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August 4, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Pandemic strikes Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals were forced to postpone their weekend series in Milwaukee after seven of their players and six staff members tested positive for the covid-19 virus. Among those affected are veteran catcher Yadier Molina and shorstop Paul DeJong. The Cardinals' games in Detroit this week have also been postponed, but they hope to resume play at home on Friday.

The disruptions to MLB schedule have been very stressful for the players, taxing the sport to the limit. The effects have been felt unevenly, which will inevitably raise questions about whether the curtailed 2020 season can really be considered fair or balanced. The Miami Marlins missed seven games over the past eight days, and after winning against Baltimore tonight, they now have a 3-1 record; that's only four games, whereas most teams have played 11 or 12 games already. The Philadelphia Phillies are the other team with just four games, and the Cardinals have played just five. The Nationals are one of three teams that have played eight games. To add to the weirdness, all the Nationals games thus far have been played at home, although two of them were technically "road" games; see below.

Nats win three in a row (?)

After taking the weekend off due to the coronavirus and getting an extra (unneeded) day of rest on Monday, the Nationals beat the New York Mets tonight, 5-3. Howie Kendrick and Josh Harrison (a veteran outfielder recently-signed to replace Juan Soto) both homered in the early innings, and Patrick Corbin had another solid outing to get the win, with eight strikeouts.

The Mets are without the services of Yoenis Cespedes, who decided (rather belatedly) to opt out of playing this year for health reasons. He was out of touch with his team for a few days and seems disgruntled. He missed almost two years due to injuries, and the Mets did not exactly get their money's worth from his four-year $110 million contract.

Tonight's win came after the Nationals bounced back from two lackluster defeats at the hands of the Blue Jays last week with two "road" victories against the same team played in Nationals Park. Huh??? As mentioned last week, the Blue Jays are not allowed to play games in Toronto this year, and because they were unable to get a replacement venue ready in time, they simply played the games in Washington instead. With no fans present, the psychological aspect of home field advantage is nullified. In the Wednesday game, neither team scored for the first nine innings, which triggered the new rule that each team starts with a runner on second in extra innings. I dislike such deviations from normal play, but it worked to the Nats' advantage, as they quickly had the bases loaded with nobody out. The next two batters failed to reach base, leaving it up to Adam Eaton. He smacked a high bouncing ball to the second baseman, who couldn't quite tag Andrew Stevenson who slid into second base as the first run of the game scored. Then Asdrubal Cabrera hit a bases-clearing triple, and that's how the Nats won, 4-0. Max Scherzer threw ten strikeouts over seven-plus innings but did not get credit for the win. The Nats also won on Thursday, as Michael A. Taylor had his second home run of the year. (It was also his second hit of the year; he has a .143 batting average.) Starlin Castro went 4 for 5 at the plate for the Nats, and the bullpen made up for the unavailability of Stephen Strasburg. Final score: Nats 6, Blue Jays 4.

The Nationals can be cheered by the hitting of new infielders Starlin Castro (batting .379) and Carter Kieboom (.417), and by the return of outfielder Juan Soto to the active roster. He claims that his covid-19 tests gave a false positive, and the fact that he suffered no symptoms and returned so quickly lend credence to the assertion. But it is well known that a large percentage of those infected are asymptomatic, which is one reason why the virus is so dangerous.

Soroka out for the year

The Atlanta Braves received some bad news yesterday: star pitcher Mike Soroka somehow got hurt the other night, and it turns out he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. That means he'll be out for the rest of the year. The Braves are dominating the NL East this season with an 8-4 record (technically they're in second place behind the 3-1 Marlins), and if this baseball season makes it through the end of September, the Braves will almost certainly be in the postseason.

Field of Dreams game nixed

The Chicago White Sox announced that they won't play their August 13 game at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville, Iowa as had been planned; they'll play there next year instead. It was originally supposed to be a game against the Yankees, but the covid-19 forced the schedule to be redrawn from scratch, with no games outside each team's "region." I'm not surprised by the decision, as there really wasn't a point to holding such a game without any fans. The game won't be at the actual diamond where the movie was filmed (and which remains a destination for tourists), but is a couple hundred yards to the northwest. Obviously, I'll have to redo the badly-outdated Field of Dreams page later this year or perhaps next year. Hat tip to Mark London.

Candlestick Park update!

Candlestick Park

After a busy month taking care of Globe Life Field and a few odds and ends in July, I finally got back to my planned sequence of diagram revisions, with an update of Candlestick Park, former home of the San Francisco Giants. The last major revision of those diagrams was in early 2012. (I did a minor update of those diagrams in December of that year.) How big was this revision? How big was Candlestick Park?? Well, many of the changes involved small details, so some people might not notice. I added "ribs" to the roof, as I have done previously for such stadiums as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Angel Stadium. Those structural elements help to calibrate various details, enabling me to render them more precisely. I also added the support columns in the lower deck diagram, and the rebuilt press boxes and mezzanine seating levels. I noticed that in photos taken in the latter years (1980s) those sections protrude about three feet in front of the front edge of the upper deck. Kansas City's Municipal Stadium had a similar feature. Other new details include the bullpen mounds and plates, exit ramp slope directions (in the lower-deck diagram), and variations in the profiles to account for the fact that in much of Candlestick Park, the lower deck was built directly on top of excavated dirt, with no rooms beneath it. If you look closely and click on the diagram to compare the new version to the old version, you'll probably notice a number of other small changes. Enjoy!



July 28, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Photo gallery additions: 2011

After returning from my most recent trip to Peru (!) three years ago, I created a new system for cataloguing my immense volume of online photographs, to make it easier to find old photos. Since then, I have periodically added new pages, going back year by year, and I have just done so for my 2011 photos. This was prompted by trying to locate the photo I had taken of the Robert E. Lee statue in the Virginia state capitol building, during a field trip to Richmond I led for CVCC students in February 2011. (The statue was recently removed at the behest of the Democratic leaders of the Virginia General Assembly.)

Robert E. Lee statue

Robert E. Lee statue, in the Virginia state capitol building, Richmond (Feb. 22)

Jacqueline and I went on many nature outings during the year, wanting to get the most value from the Shenandoah National Park annual pass that we had purchased. The Nikon D40 digital SLR camera I was using at the time didn't have a telescopic zoom lens, so I didn't get many good bird photos until I bought my Canon PowerShot camera in January 2013. I did get some good nature shots, however, including this Black Bear, which was only about 25 feet away at the time (we were inside our car):

Black Bear

Black Bear, along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (June 8)

The day after seeing a Washington Nationals baseball game with my friend Dave Givens on the Fourth of July (they beat the Cubs 5-4), I took the time to visit the Washington National Cathedral.

National Cathedral ext south

National Cathedral exterior, south side (Washington, July 5)

In early August I drove out to the Midwest, to visit my family in South Dakota and Kansas. Along the way, I stopped to take some photos in downtown Indianapolis, which I had never visited before. Of course, we went bird watching and sightseeing in various locations in South Dakota. I also saw baseball games in Sioux Falls, Kansas City, and toured Busch Stadium (III), home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Indiana State Capitol

Indiana State Capitol (Aug. 5)

Sioux Falls Stadium

Sioux Falls Stadium, home of the Canaries (Aug. 13)

Kansas City skyline, fog

Kansas City skyline, fog (Aug. 17)

Back in Virginia, I took Jacqueline to Natural Bridge for the first time in several years. We enjoyed learning about history at the Indian village nearby, and visited a butterfly "zoo."

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge, in Rockbridge County (Aug. 20)

In September, Jacqueline and I went to a Washington Nationals baseball game (they lost to the Marlins, 3-0), and on the way, we visited Arlington National Cemetery, where I saw John F. Kennedy's grave for the first time.

John F Kennedy grave

John F. Kennedy grave, Arlington National Cemetery (Sept. 16)

In October Jacqueline and I saw one of my favorite rock groups, Kansas. I had seen them once before, at the Capital Centre east of Washington, DC in the early 1980s. This time we were fortunate to get seats in the second row, and after the show, we got autographs from the band members. As recounted in my October 10, 2011 blog post, "Kansas totally rocks!"

Kansas at JMU

Kansas in concert at James Madison University (Oct. 7)



July 27, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Baseball 2020: the first weekend

For the first time in several decades (I think the headline said 66 years, but I couldn't find it), no major league baseball team has won their first three games of the season. On Saturday, nearly every team that had lost of Friday won, including the Nationals, who had lost on Thursday.

Among the surprises from the first weekend series, the Marlins prevailed over the Phillies, the Orioles bested the Red Sox, and the Giants pulled even with the Dodgers after losing the first two games. Two big-name pitchers were placed on the Injured List: Corey Kluber, now with the Texas Rangers, and Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros.

In Washington, Stephen Strasburg was supposed to pitch, but had a pinched nerve in his right hand, and Erick Fedde took his place. He exited the game with a 3-2 lead after four innings, so Tanner Rainey got credit for the win even though he only pitched one inning. Victor Robles had a huge day, with a two-run double in the second inning, and a two-run homer in the 4th inning. Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael A. Taylor also hit home runs later in the game, as the Nats won it easily, 9-2.

On Sunday, the Nats had a 2-0 lead going into the seventh inning, as Patrick Corbin was having a superb day with eight strikeouts and only two hits allowed. But Davey Martinez immediately yanked him after Gleyber Torres hit a solo home run even though Corbin had only thrown 75 pitches. Why such a short leash? The reliever, Will Harris, soon gave up a home run to Luke Voit, and the game was tied. An inning later Torres hit a bases-loaded RBI single to give the Yankees the lead, and the visitors held on to win, 3-2. It wasn't Sean Doolittle's best day on the mound, as the Nationals' bullpen crumpled in their first big test of the year. But the Nats could have done better offensively, wasting run-scoring opportunities in the final two innings.

Tonight the Nationals begin a four-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, but the visitors will bat last as the "home team" in the latter two games, since Canada refused to allow American players across their border, forcing the Blue Jays to scramble to find an alternate venue. As mentioned last week, they will play most or all of the rest of their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York this year. Time is needed to upgrade the lights and facilities there, so the first "home-away-from-home" game is set for August 11.

Marlins, Phillies postpone games

After several of their players tested positive for covid-19, the Miami Marlins were forced to postpone their game at home against the Baltimore Orioles today, pending further tests. Because those players were in Citizens Bank Park over the weekend, tonight's Philadelphia Phillies - New York Yankees game has been postponed as well. With a razor tight schedule, the possibility of playing at a later date cannot be guaranteed. MLB officials are having to constantly reassess the situation, and if more teams find themselves in such a situation, the 2020 baseball season may once again be put in jeopardy.

Postseason format: wi-i-ide open!

Last Thursday MLB announced the the format of the 2020 postseason, and as expected, it's a thinly-veiled attempt to make up for some of the revenue loss from canceling the first 102 games of the regular season. It begins with a first round series from September 29 through October 2, including the six division leaders, the second-place teams in each division, and four additional wild card teams. In other words, a majority of MLB teams (16 out of 30) will qualify for the postseason. It took me a while to figure out exactly how the matchups will be structured, but I think I've got it now. The higher-seeded team will host all three games of the first-round series, which means that four teams in each league will be guaranteed at least one postseason game at home, the same as has been the case since the postseason first included three division winners plus a wild card team in 1995. Division winners don't get a "bye," and it's entirely possible that a heavily-favored team could get eliminated by losing two of the first three games. That would suck. I sure hope MLB isn't plotting to continue such an expanded playoff format in the years to come. I despise the way other pro sports (especially the NBA and NHL) allow so many teams into their playoffs, causing their seasons to stretch well into the summer. (Both those leagues are about to begin their 2020 playoff seasons under tightly-restricted "bubble" arrangements.) Anyone who needs help understanding what's ahead (hopefully) for October baseball this year can see brackets for 2020 on the Postseason scores page. (I usually wait until the playoffs are about to begin before updating that page, but I figured that doing so early would serve a useful purpose this year.)



July 24, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Globe Life Field tweak

Globe Life Field

As so often happens early in the rendering process, I noticed a few small discrepancies between my diagrams for Globe Life Field and photographs, so I made the necessary corrections which can now be found on the Globe Life Field page. What changed? Glad you asked! There is now more overhang between the first and second decks in left field, and the rear rows of both of them are now vertically aligned. I realized that there are a few rows of seats behind the visitors bullpen in left center field, and the far extremities of that bullpen and the adjoining seating sections are angled, i.e. not perpendicular to the outfield fence. There is a small gap (about six feet) between the fence and the seats to the left of the bullpen in left field, and a tiny gap (about two feet) in the right side of right field. Finally, the upper level of seats in left field is about five feet higher than I estimated before. How did I deduce this? Photos clearly indicate that the concourse in back of those seats is on the same level as the upper concourse in the main grandstand, and the upper concourse in right field. No doubt there will be further corrections in the weeks and months to come, but I'm going to prioritize finishing the remaining stadium diagrams on my "to-do" list first.

As with my Dodger Stadium diagram update yesterday, I made those changes just in time for the grand opening of Globe Life Field this evening. The Texas Rangers will host the Colorado Rockies, and in fact they met the same team in an exhibition game at home earlier this month. I should give credit to Daniel Murphy, who hit a long home run to right field, and as I was watching the video of that blast, I noticed a few details (such as the tiny gap behind the right field fence) that helped me with the diagrams. So hats off to one of my favorite former Washington Nationals stars:

Thanks, Daniel!

Blue Jays must migrate* south!

After the Canadian government declared that American baseball teams would not be allowed across the border to play games in Toronto, the Blue Jays organization spent several days frantically searching for an alternative site for home games. PNC Park in Pittsburgh? Nope. Their spring training field in Dunedin, Florida? Nope. Thankfully, they chose a much better site, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, which is only about 50 miles southeast of Toronto as the crow flies. (Did you know that crows are related to blue jays?) Anyway, that means I've got another MLB stadium diagram to do! Arghhh!! I stopped at that ballpark while en route to Toronto in 2015, when it was called "Coca Cola Field."

* Actually, Blue Jays are not a migratory species, but it seemed like a fitting theme for this news item.

Coca-Cola Field 2016

Coca-Cola Field, now called "Sahlen Field," in July 2016. It will serve as the home of the Toronto Blue Jays for much or all of this baseball season.

Coping with covid-19

Yesterday's bleak news that Juan Soto has the coronavirus reminds us how hazardous sports or indeed any kind of work is these days. I heard that Braves slugger Freddie Freeman had an encouraging message to the fans that was shown at the beginning of the Dodgers-Giants game last night. I imagine that if there had been a live crowd at the Nats-Yankees game last night, Dr. Anthony Fauci would have received a huge standing ovation. As bleak as these times are, with many folks hanging on by their fingernails in keeping up with expenses, we really need something to be glad about. Baseball could play an enormous role in restoring this country's morale and perhaps even smoothing over the rough edges in the bitter political divisions among us. I don't begrudge those players who have "opted out" of the 2020 season, but those who do play deserve enormous credit to this nation. Speaking of which, Nats veteran Ryan Zimmerman said he is very eager to play in the 2021 season, which is good news for us long-time fans of his.

MLB supports BLM

Until I noticed the black letters "BLM" on the back of the pitchers mound in Nationals Park while watching the game last night, I didn't realize that "MLB" turned backwards makes "BLM," as in Black Lives Matter. All the players took a knee during the pre-game ceremonies, expressing support for the social justice movement. I'm sure it made Colin Kaepernick smile. Since so many baseball players are African-American, it's an appropriate gesture, and in light of the fact that baseball has been losing younger black fans over the past 20 or 30 years, it's probably long overdue. (I happen to think that one can support the ideals of racial equality without endorsing every part of the Black Lives Matter agenda.) Years ago, Major League Baseball went to great lengths to recognize the historical role of Jackie Robinson (#42!) in helping to integrate Our National Pastime, but more needs to be done to restore the place that baseball once had in urban communities across the country. The Washington Nationals have done a fine job with their baseball academy for young players in D.C., and I hope that other teams do similar things -- especially those in cities with a high proportion of African-American residents.

Credit, mail bag, etc.

Since I gave "credit" to Daniel Murphy above, I should also thank (on a more sincere note) Terry Wallace, Mike Zurawski, and my sister Connie for each bringing to my attention that my baseball diagram work was mentioned on the fivethirtyeight.com blog last week. (I noted that in passing on July 18.) Mike also sent me a link about the L.A. Angels plans for a massive commercial development around Angels Stadium (ballparkdigest.com) [possibly including a brand-new stadium], as well as a statement from the Oakland A's that they remain committed to the Howard Terminal site in downtown Oakland (sportico.com), notwithstanding uncertainties due to the coronavirus. I have been horribly negligent about keeping up with ballpark news that Mike has sent me over the last several months. But I'll do better!

In addition, Larry Freitas recently sent me a photo of Candlestick Park when the "Oakland" Raiders were playing there in either late 1960 or sometime in the fall of 1961. That is one of my high-priority projects. Finally, Patrick Quarry wrote to say how much he enjoys my website, which "is one of the reasons I became a civil engineer." Wow!

[Oops! I almost forgot, Bruce Orser wrote to ask if Giancarlo Stanton's home run into the Red Porch at Nationals Park last night really went 459 feet, as Statcast indicated. Bruce estimates it went 426 feet before landing on a table, and given that it was about 22-25 feet high at the time, it probably would have traveled another 20-30 feet or so. We both think Statcast probably overestimated just a tad.]

Thanks very much to all who took the time to write me. That's just a small sampling of the e-mail I've been meaning to answer, and there'll be more such acknowledgments soon. Thanks as always for your patience.



July 23, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Opening Day (Night) 2020 -- at last!

It was a rather surreal scene in Our Nation's Capital this evening, as the Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees in the first Major League Baseball game of the year before an unpacked (that is, empty) house. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the Center for Allergies and Infectious Diseases threw out the first pitch in what can only be described as pitiful style. For only the second time in history, the two starting pitchers on Opening "Day" had also faced each other in the previous year's World Series: Max Scherzer against Gerrit Cole, who pitched for the Houston Astros last year. As so often happens, Scherzer gave up a home run early in the game; this time Giancarlo Stanton smashed a ball way up into the Red Porch section, and the ball went an estimated 460 feet. In the bottom of the first, the Nats' Adam Eaton narrowed the gap with a solo home run to right field, but that was the Nationals' only hit in the rain-shortened game. Scherzer struck out 11 batters, showing he's the same fierce competitor he was last year. Final score: Yankees 4, Nats 1 after five innings of play. Attendance: zero. frown

Talk about a dispiriting note on which to begin the baseball season! About an hour before the first pitch, it was announced that the Nationals' young slugger Juan Soto had tested positive for covid-19. He shows no symptoms, however, and it is entirely possible that he will recover in time to play next month or September. Soto was replaced in the lineup by the young Andrew Stevenson. If the Nats can't get a top performer to fill that vacancy, they've got a tough road ahead of them. To qualify for active duty, MLB players must get two negative test results within a certain period of time.

Across the continent, the L.A. Dodgers are hosting the San Francisco Giants at this very moment. And that is what prompted me to do another series of diagram updates:

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium update

During the off-season, Dodger Stadium underwent yet another big renovation, this time involving the bleachers. The stairs in front of the bleachers were removed, and a table seating area was put into the gap between the fence and the bleachers. (After watching video replays of home runs by Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick when the Nationals played in Los Angeles during last year's NLDS, I could see that the gap is about ten feet wide, rather than seven or so feet wide as I had estimated before.) In the center of both the right- and left-side bleachers there are new open areas for mingling, and in back of the bleachers is a broad new plaza that provides access to the seats. It is similar to what the Royals did with Kaufmann Stadium in 2009. The last major renovation at Dodger Stadium took place in 2014, and I did a diagram update that December.

And so, I updated the Dodger Stadium page with a new diagram, along with a number of small tweaks. As usual, you can compare the new version to the preceding version by clicking on the image on that page.

Dodger Stadium was prominently featured in Naked Gun (1988), starring Leslie Nielson.

More web page updates

Since the Five Thirty Eight blog called attention to my Stadium profiles page, I figured I'd better bring it up to date with the Texas Rangers' new Globe Life Field, which formally opens for business tomorrow.



July 22, 2020 [LINK / comment]

The 2010s: a decade of baseball in review

Since fate has robbed baseball fans of almost four months of expected enjoyment this year, it is perhaps fitting, on the eve of Opening Day 2020, to take a look backward. Soon we will be all caught up in the frenetic division races in this severely abbreviated season, and the recent past will fade from our eyes. And so, based on a compilation of records for the past ten years, I offer this review of the baseball during the decade that just finished, 2010-2019.

One can measure success in baseball (or almost any sport) by the winning record during the regular season, and then by how well the teams due in the postseason championship series. Usually teams that do well by one measure do well by the other measure as well, but the table below shows that there are many exceptions. The San Francisco Giants won three World Series during the decade (2010, 2012, and 2014), but their regular season record was barely above .500 overall. The New York Yankees (and until 2019, the Washington Nationals) were a lot like the Atlanta Braves of the early 2000s, routinely winning their division or at least a wild card spot, but not making it to the World Series. In contrast, the Kansas City Royals were well below .500 for the decade as a whole, and yet they won the American League pennant both times they qualified for the postseason: 2014 and 2015. Perhaps the most consistently good team was the Boston Red Sox, who won two World Series, and ranked #5 in regular season wins from 2010 to 2019.

Indeed, it may come as a surprise to some people that the Washington Nationals rank fourth among all major league teams in terms of total regular season game wins (879) during the 2010s. It would probably come as an even bigger surprise that, excluding the first two years (2010 and 2011), the Nationals won more regular season games (730) than any other major league team! From that perspective, the Nats' World Series victory in 2019 was long overdue. The Yankees came in second with 729 games over those eight years, 2012-2019. See the Washington Nationals page for more details, year by year.

Team Regular season game wins
(810 = 50%)
Postseason appearances World Series wins World Series losses
New York Yankees 921 7 0 0
Los Angeles Dodgers 919 6 0 2
St. Louis Cardinals 899 6 1 1
Washington Nationals 879 5 1 0
Boston Red Sox 872 4 2 0
Tampa Bay Rays 860 4 0 0
Cleveland Indians 855 4 0 1
Texas Rangers 843 5 0 2
Atlanta Braves 843 5 0 0
Oakland Athletics 839 5 0 0
Milwaukee Brewers 824 3 0 0
Los Angeles Angels 822 1 0 0
San Francisco Giants 821 4 3 0
Chicago Cubs 817 4 1 0
Toronto Blue Jays 794 2 0 0
New York Mets 793 2 0 1
Arizona Diamondbacks 793 2 0 0
Pittsburgh Pirates 792 3 0 0
Houston Astros 789 4 1 1
Philadelphia Phillies 787 2 0 0
Detroit Tigers 782 4 0 1
Cincinnati Reds 775 3 0 0
Minnesota Twins 765 3 0 0
Kansas City Royals 758 2 1 1
Seattle Mariners 758 0 0 0
Baltimore Orioles 755 3 0 0
Colorado Rockies 752 2 0 0
Chicago White Sox 743 0 0 0
San Diego Padres 739 0 0 0
Miami (Florida) Marlins 707 0 0 0

SOURCE: Regular season wins (first column) from baseball-reference.com; other three columns are from the Postseason scores page on this website.

Setting aside all those numbers, which World Series of the past decade was most dramatic and/or memorable? I'm biased, of course, but I think most people would agree that the 2019 Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros contest would rank high in that regard. All seven games were won by the visiting team, and in three of the Nationals' four victories they came from behind. In part for historical reasons, most people would say that the Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians series of 2016 was the biggest. The Cubs had to win the last three games, two of them on the road, and the final one in extra innings on a freak rain delay that probably tipped the balance in their favor. It's a shame that one of those two long-suffering teams had to lose, just as it was a shame that the Houston Astros' 2017 victory will be forever tainted by that cheating scandal. Perhaps the biggest World Series disappointment was in 2011 when the Texas Rangers came within a hair's breadth of winning it all in Game 6 (in St. Louis), only to lose to the Cardinals in extra innings, and then losing Game 7 the next day. This was a year after the Rangers lost to the San Francisco Giants; back-to-back World Series losses are hard to take for teams that had never made it that far before.

As mentioned above, even though the Yankees had the winningest regular season record and reached the postseason more often than any other team from 2010 to 2019, they failed to win the American League pennant even once. Quite bizarrely, this was the first decade in almost a century that the Yankees failed to reach the World Series at all!

Decade Yankees'
World Series wins
Yankees'
World Series losses
1900s 0 0
1910s 0 0
1920s 3 3
1930s 5 0
1940s 4 1
1950s 6 2
1960s 2 3
1970s 2 1
1980s 0 1
1990s 3 0
2000s 2 2
2010s 0 0

SOURCE: The Annual baseball chronology page on this website.

Ballpark changes in the 2010s

After a veritable explosion of new ballpark construction in the 1990s (10) and 2000s (12), it is no surprise that only three new MLB stadiums were built during the 2010s: Target Field (2010), Marlins Park (2012), and Truist Park, originally called SunTrust Park (2017). We already have one new stadium this decade (Globe Life Field), and one would think that both the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays will get new stadiums by the year 2029. Maybe the L.A. Angels will get a new one as well.

Target Field Marlins Park SunTrust / Truist Park

In addition, the following ballparks underwent significant renovations or modifications during the 2010s: Dodger Stadium and Coors Field* (2014); Progressive Field* (2015); Wrigley Field (2015 and 2018); and Tropicana Field* (2019). These are listed on the Stadium chronology (annual) page. Those marked with asterisks (*) underwent major reducations in seating capacity, but only at Coors Field and Progressive Field did this entail upgrades in the facilities -- fancy social gathering places, etc. At Tropicana Field they just closed the upper deck in 2019, much like the upper deck of Oakland Coliseum was closed from 2006 through 2016.

Six MLB stadiums had their names change over the course of the decade, not counting the quick reversion of "O.co Coliseum" (2011 only) to its old name (Oakland Coliseum) in 2012. In 2010 Dolphin Stadium / Landshark Stadium became Sun Life Stadium; it was later renamed "Hard Rock Stadium" in 2016, but that was after the Marlins had departed. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington became Globe Life Park in 2014, U.S. Cellular Field became Guaranteed Rate Field in 2017, and Safeco Field and AT&T Park became (respectively) T-Mobile Park and Oracle Park in 2019. (SunTrust Park became Truist Park in January of this year, but that's not part of the last decade.)

Finally, three MLB stadiums were demolished during the past decade: Yankee Stadium (2010), Metrodome (2014), and Candlestick Park (2015). We are currently in the longest period (five years and counting) without any MLB stadiums being demolished since the late 1980s/early 1990s. The most likely next stadium to be demolished is RFK Stadium, perhaps as soon as next year.

T-Mobile Park tiny tweak

T-Mobile Park

I recently saw an overhead aerial photo of a baseball diamond and empty seats in the Washington Post, and I assumed it was Nationals Park. But then I noticed some big differences and realized it had to be somewhere else. Eventually I deduced that it was T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field) in Seattle, but the curvature of the backstop did not conform to my Safeco Field diagrams, which were last updated in 2015. So, I did some photographic sleuthing, and soon determined that the distance behind home plate is about 52 feet, rather than the 56 feet that I had previously estimated. Is that a big deal? Yes!!! And so, I updated the diagrams on the Safeco Field / T-Mobile Park page, also rendering the dugouts a bit thinner than before and adding an entry portal; there were no other changes of note. (You can compare to the previous version by clicking on the diagram on that page, and for the time being you can can see the change in the backstop configuration by rolling over the thumbnail image above.) My estimate of foul territory at T-Mobile Park was reduced from 24,300 square feet to 23,900 square feet, a decrease of 400.



July 18, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Summer practice games begin!

Earlier this evening, in MLB stadiums from coast to coast, the first practice games of this summer "retraining" camp got underway! Most teams are merely playing intrasquad games, however. In Washington, Max Scherzer quickly got banged up by the Philadelphia Phillies, who scored seven runs in the first two innings, including a three-run homer to the right side of center field by former Nat Bryce Harper. With no fans present due to the coronavirus, however, it was a rather surreal spectacle. Final score: 7-2.

Over the last couple weeks, some uncertainties in the rosters have been resolved, such as the good news that Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick have both been released from precautionary isolation and are available to play. Accordingly, I've updated that information on the Washington Nationals page.

Oakland's new ballpark: What now?

Just when the Oakland Athletics' long search for a way to get a new stadium built seemed near the finish line, this nasty plague has put everything on hold. In late May, ballparkdigest.com reported that the A's top communication executive, Catherine Aker, said "The timeline may be adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic." In light of expected financial constraints for the foreseeable future, there is a growing possibility that the A's will simply build a new stadium adjacent to their current home, Oakland Coliseum. That makes a lot of sense to me. The proposal to build a new stadium on the waterfront near downtown Oakland was never very convincing. By the way, there was a preliminary agreement in May of 2019 to rename the Athletics' aging home "RingCentral Coliseum," but a bribery scandal soon put ice water on that idea, and it was formally canceled last January. As far as I know, the name change never became official. Yet another sordid chapter in a long series of misbegotten naming rights fiascos -- not unlike the Texas Rangers' former home, Globe Life Park, or whatever you want to call it.

And so, since it has been a while since this topic came up, I thought it would be appropriate to present a chronology of the Athletics' prolonged efforts to build a new ballpark -- a litany of 14 years of business schemes that went sour. You can see a nice summary of the alternative site plans at oaklandfans.com.

November 9, 2006 : Athletics and Cisco reached a tentative stadium deal in Fremont.

January 17, 2007 : Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff pitched ballpark plan to Fremont City Council; fans from Oakland protest.

November 17, 2007 : Athletics submit plans for $1.8 billion "ballpark village" in Fremont.

April 24, 2008 : Co-owner Keith Wolff says new ballpark in Fremont may not open until 2012, or later.

December 9, 2008 : Lew Wolff now plans for a different site in Fremont, giving up on the "ballpark village" at Cisco Field."

January 15, 2009 : Athletics suggest alternate site in San Jose if Fremont proposal fails.

February 12, 2009 : Growing opposition to ballpark in Fremont, but there are big obstacles in San Jose too.

March 13, 2009 : Oakland mayor hopes A's stay in Oakland, but is vague about stadium funding.

November 28, 2009 : Ballpark support in Oakland dwindles, while San Jose prepares to decide on public funding.

February 5, 2010 : Rising hopes in Fremont for a stadium to be built on the site of the soon-to-be-closed Nummi automobile plant.

May 25, 2010 : San Jose Planning Commission's environmental impact statement raises the chances for a ballpark there.

December 7, 2011 : Decision time frame for ballpark in San Jose is being accelerated.

November 12, 2012 : MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is negotiating S.F Giants territorial rights in San Jose, as prelude to relocating the Athletics there.

July 29, 2013 : San Jose city council files federal lawsuit against Major League Baseball over territorial rights claimed by S.F. Giants.

August 29, 2016 (October 2015): U.S. Supreme Court rejected claim that MLB used monopoly powers to block relocation of A's to San Jose, killing that option.

December 1, 2018 : Athletics announce plans for new ballpark to be built adjacent to Howard Terminal Park near downtown Oakland.

March 20, 2019 : Oakland's future ballpark's tapered terraced park will have a rounded shape, rather than rectangular.

Cashman Field update

Cashman Field

Remember when the Athletics were forced to postpone their home opener in 1996? Oakland Coliseum was still under reconstruction, anticipating the return of the Raiders after a 13-year stay in Los Angeles, so the Athletics were forced to play somewhere else for their first six home games. They chose a minor league ballpark in Las Vegas, Cashman Field. With that in mind, I updated said diagram with corrections in the grandstand depth and adding details such as lights, bullpens, and the lateral walkway. (Why such a trivial stadium? It was easy to do, and I was burned out after doing Globe Life Field.) To compare to the previous version (2006!), just click on the diagram image on that page. I also added an "exposed" version and a soccer version to account for the fact that it was converted to a soccer stadium last year after the Las Vegas 51s moved outside the city, changing their name to the "Aviators." Unfortunately, no minor league games are being played this year due to the coronavirus.

And where are the Raiders supposed to play this fall? That's right, the very same city that they forced their erstwhile baseball "house mates" to play in 24 years ago: Las Vegas! We'll find out soon enough whether the Las Vegas Raiders' new Allegiant Stadium (see raiders.com) and the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, just west Los Angeles (home of the L.A. Rams and Chargers; see therams.com) will in fact host games this fall, and if so, whether fans will be allowed to attend. (What a weird series of coincidences...) And to finish this discussion of football, let us note the end of Globe Life Park's (not Field!) brief service as a football stadium after the Texas Rangers left it. The brick behemoth in Arlington was reconfigured to accommodate the XFL Dallas Renegades earlier this year, but alas the XFL went bankrupt -- once again, due to the coronavirus. (Are you tired of that cliché yet?) I updated the Football use page with that information, plus the names "Allegiant Stadium" and the "SoFi Stadium."

Nice plug!

Speaking of Globe Life Field (not Park!), an article at fivethirtyeight.com (which is mostly about political polls) about the Rangers' new home cited my little website as a source of information (the Stadium profiles page in particular), and I appreciated that.



July 16, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Spring and summer excursions

Well, it has been nearly a year (August 6, 2019) since my last blog post about travel, so let's get started. In reviewing the scenic photos I have taken over the past year, I am surprised at the evident lack of travel: there are no entries at all for the last four months of 2019, and only one photo for the first two months of this year. No doubt this reflected being busy with a new teaching job.

Ironically, it was when the covid-10 pandemic broke out in mid-March that I started to get around with more frequency. The pandemic forced me to abandon a hoped-for trip out west to visit my siblings this summer, so Jacqueline and I have been limited to a few day trips. On March 20 we drove up to the Harrisonburg area, the main purpose of which was to locate and photograph the Federal court house to show in my political science classes. (I had previously taken photos of such court houses in Charlottesville, Richmond, and Lynchburg.) To my surprise, I learned that the Federal court house in Harrisonburg also serves as the U.S. Post Office building. On our way up there, we stopped at the Cove Creek Arboretum in Bridgewater, hoping to see birds. No luck in that regard, but we did see a large mammal near the creek that I later determined was a Muskrat!

United States Post Office and Court House in Harrisonburg, on March 20.

On April 19 we went hiking and bird watching in the Ramseys Draft area, but the main highlight of the day was on our way home when Jacqueline spotted a Black Bear along the hillside. Good eye! So I did a U-turn, and got in position for a quick photograph of the bear, which was foraging on some of the few green plants that were available in the early spring.

Black Bear

Black Bear, obviously hungry, near Ramseys Draft on April 19.

During the latter part of May, after school was over, I got very busy with birding in the great outdoors. During one such trip in the mountains of northwestern Augusta County on May 17, Penny Warren led us to a place where she had seen some Yellow Lady Slippers, and that made for a nice photo opportunity.

Yellow Lady Slipper

Yellow Lady Slipper, west of Elkhorn Lake on May 17.

On both June 1 and 8, Jacqueline and I drove up to the Shenandoah National Park. The first time was just leisure viewing, but the second time was a strenuous hike to the top of Hightop Mountain, which provided great views with beautiful blue skies. The restrictions on business and personal activities due to the coronavirus has resulted in a sharp drop in motor vehicle emissions, giving us some of the best outdoor views in many years. Typically, the Shenandoah Valley is blanketed by a faint haze even on "clear" days, thanks largely to all the traffic Interstate 81.

View from near the summit of Hightop Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, on June 8. In the distance you can see the southern terminus of Massanutten "Mountain," which is actually a very long ridge.

On June 24 we drove up to the Washington area to visit with family members, and I persuaded them to visit downtown D.C., where there had been major protests involved with the "Black Lives Matter" movement. It was a very nice day, and I got lots of good photos of iconic buildings in Our Nation's Capital, some of which I will use for classes this fall. As I described in a blog post on July 1, we spent a while observing the protesters on "Black Lives Matter Plaza," as the portion of 16th Street NW just north of the White House and Lafayette Square has been renamed. Fortunately, there was no violence that day, and we felt safe.

The Botanical Gardens, and the U.S. Capitol beyond, in Washington on June 24.

Three days later, on June 27, I went on a solo birding expedition to the top of Reddish Knob, at the northern tip of Augusta County. Rather than the usual route via Briery Branch Road, however, I took a long indirect approach via eastern Highland County and going into Pendleton County, West Virginia. For the first time I visited the tiny town of Sugar Grove, and also took a look at the nearby Sugar Grove Navy communications center, which closed several years ago. It served as a crucial nexus during the Cold War, and it is eerie to see all those buildings and houses for military personnel devoid of any human presence.

The checkpoint at the Sugar Grove communication facility (between the town and the Navy base a couple miles to the north), on June 27.

Finally, Jacqueline and I drove to Richmond on July 9. Once again, I was curious about the "Black Lives Matter" protests, and wanted to see the one remaining monument on Monument Avenue: General Robert E. Lee. But first I wanted to visit some of the battlefields in the Richmond area for the first time. There was a military campaign in the spring of 1862, leading up to the "Seven Days Battle," culminating in the Battle of Cold Harbor northeast of Richmond. Two years later, following the Battles of Wilderness and Spotsylvania, the Union Army approached Richmond for a second time, and basically laid siege to the Confederate capital city (and nearby Petersburg) for ten months: June 1864 to April 1865. I thought Jacqueline would enjoy touring some of the historic plantation houses along the James River southeast of Richmond, but the three closest ones were all closed, so we gave up. We spent the afternoon in the Petersburg area, about 20 miles south of Richmond, eating at Captain Tom's seafood restaurant in Colonial Heights, looking at armored vehicles on display at Fort Lee (which will probably be renamed eventually), and touring the Petersburg battlefield. Then late in the day we spent an hour or so in Richmond itself, seeing the now-vacant monument pedestals that have been defaced by graffiti. The Lee equestrian statue is the "ground zero" of the protest movement, and no police were seen in that vicinity. I will post photos of all that in a separate blog about politics.

Gaines Mill battlefield, on July 9. The above photos, along with many others, can be seen on my Chronological (2020) photo gallery page.



July 16, 2020 [LINK / comment]

Hail to the (name to be announced later)?

As had been anticipated for the past few weeks, the Washington Redskins formally announced on Monday that they will no longer be called the Redskins. The news came ten days after the team began a formal review of the name issue on July 3. See the rather terse official announcement at redskins.com. The most likely replacement names are the "Warriors" or the "Red-tails" (referring to the World War II Tuskegee airmen), but "Pigskins" (referring to the vaunted offensive linemen of the 1980s known as the "Hogs") is another distant possibility. I suppose the team song "Hail to the Redskins" will be banned in the future, but it may depend on the new name.

It is important to note that majority franchise owner Dan Synder vowed several years ago that he would "NEVER" change the Redskins' name. His change of heart was quite obviously the result of financial pressure from corporations that do business with the Redskins, most notably Federal Express, which threatened to terminate the naming rights contract of what used to be called Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. (See below.) Unfortunately, these circumstances will taint any future efforts by the Washington NFL franchise to promote social justice causes. Of course, this will become much more significant if the National Football League season actually does take place this fall. Many high school and college teams are canceling much or all of their 2020 schedules, so NFL games this year are by no means certain. They only have six weeks to change uniforms, stadium logos, stationery, etc. Unlike baseball, the very nature of football involves constant, close physical contact with opponents, and the risk of a single player infecting two entire teams in the course of a single game may be too much to take.

FedEx Field, Redskins logo

Closeup of the southeast entrance to FedEx Field, in Landover, Maryland, with the Washington Redskins logo. (Sept. 28, 2014) To see the whole photo, click here.

To me it's obvious that the name "Redskins" was never intended as an insult, but it was not exactly a polite reference to the Native American population either. Most sport team names invoke tough or fearsome qualities, sometimes roguish in nature. The way I figure it, 14 of the 32 current NFL team names refer to human beings based on occupation, size, geographical region, history, ethnicity, etc. (including 2 that refer to Indians), another 14 are derived from animals (including 4 birds), and the remaining four are hard to classify: Bills, Browns, Jets, and Chargers. As for Major League Baseball, 19 of the 30 current team names seem to refer to human beings (if you include the Angels), 8 are derived from animals (including 3 birds), 2 refer to hosiery colors (Red Sox, White Sox), and the Rockies refer to a mountain range.

History of team name changes

All that got me to wondering how often pro sports team names have changed in the past, and the table below is what I came up with. To summarize the findings, twelve of the 31 name changes resulted from having moved to a new city, reflecting a desire to "start fresh" with a new identity. (Note that 6 of the 13 MLB franchise relocations since 1901 did not result in the name being changed; see the MLB franchises page. If you count the Athletics being called the "A's" during their early years in Oakland, that would be just 5 of the 13.) Five the the name changes are unknown to me. Two of the baseball team names (Highlanders and Astros) were based on the stadium they were playing in, and four of the football team names (Bears, Pirates, Redskins, and Jets) were related to the "host" MLB team with which they shared the facilities. Finally, team names reverted to old names seven times, most often after just a few years with a new name that didn't catch on. The two ambiguous cases are the Washington Senators/Nationals (1905-1955), when most people just stuck to the old name on an informal basis, and the Oakland Athletics/A's (1968-1986), the latter of which is merely an abbreviation of the former.

Other teams being targeted include the Cleveland Indians (who have already committed to changing their name), the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs, and believe it or not, the Texas Rangers! (Before the Civil War, the Rangers were responsible in part for rounding up escaped slaves.) As far as I can tell, the only other team name that was ever considered offensive was the Cincinnati Reds; during the Red Scare of the 1950s, being called a "red" was equivalent to being called a traitor. (Say, maybe the Redskins could simply be called the "Reds," without using any Native American symbols!) Any future name reversion appears highly unlikely with the Redskins, however.

Name changes of pro football and baseball teams

Year League City (or state) Old name New name Reason for change
1902 AL St. Louis Brewers* Browns Moved from Milwaukee.
1903 AL New York Orioles* Highlanders Moved from Baltimore to Hilltop Park.
1909 NL Boston Beaneaters Braves ???
1903 AL Cleveland Blues Naps # To honor star player Napoleon Lajoie.
1905 AL Washington Senators Nationals @ # Seeking fresh start after poor seasons.
1913 AL New York Highlanders Yankees Moved down to Polo Grounds.
1915 AL Cleveland Naps Indians # In memory of Louis Sockalexis.
1922 NFL Chicago Staleys Bears Moved from Decatur, IL to Wrigley Field.
1927 NL Brooklyn Superbas Robins ???
1932 NL Brooklyn Robins Dodgers Fans had to dodge trolleys.
1933 NFL Boston Braves Redskins Moved from Braves Field to Fenway Park.
1934 NFL Detroit Spartans Lions Moved from Porstmouth, Ohio.
1941 NFL Pittsburgh Pirates Steelers To identify with steel workers.
1936 NL Boston Braves Bees ???
1941 NL Boston Bees Braves Reverted to old name.
1943 NL Philadelphia Phillies Blue Jays* ???
1944 NL Cincinnati Reds Red Legs ???
1945 NL Philadelphia Blue Jays Phillies Reverted to old name.
1946 NL Cincinnati Red Legs Reds Reverted to old name.
1954 NL Cincinnati Reds Redlegs Reverted to earlier name; Red Scare?
1954 AL Baltimore Browns Orioles Moved from St. Louis.
1956 AL Washington Nationals @ # Senators Officially reverted to the original name.
1961 NL Cincinnati Redlegs Reds Reverted to original name.
1961 AL (Minnesota) Senators* Twins Moved from Washington to Twin Cities.
1963 AFL New York Titans* Jets Soon to share stadium with MLB Mets.
1963 AFL Kansas City Texans* Chiefs Moved from Dallas.
1965 NL Houston Colt 45s Astros New stadium: the Astrodome.
1968 AL Oakland Athletics A's Moved from Kansas City.
1970 AL Milwaukee Pilots Brewers Moved from Seattle.
1972 AL (Texas) Senators Rangers Moved from Washington.
1987 AL Oakland A's Athletics Reverted to old name.
1996 NFL Baltimore Browns* Ravens Moved from Cleveland.
1999 NFL (Tennessee) Oilers Titans Moved from Houston two years earlier.
2005 NL Washington Expos Nationals Moved from Montreal.
2020 NFL Washington Redskins TBA Anti-racist public sentiment.

SOURCES: ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac, 1999, etc.
# : from sportsteamhistory.com
* (asterisk): This team name was later used by a different MLB or NFL franchise.
@ "Nationals" only appeared on Washington uniforms in 1905 and 1906, and "Senators" remained a widely-used name; the name was officially reverted in 1956.
NOTE: This table excludes the temporary mergers of some NFL teams during World War II.




 

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What's this about?

This blog features commentary and musings on a diverse but well-defined set of topics, from a critical-minded conservative point of view, featuring a veritable library of original graphics and statistical information. It is distinguished in many ways from the rest of the "blogosphere." My blog entries cover a rigidly defined set of topics, with varying degrees of intensity according to how much is going on in each area, and how much time I have. Being somewhat of a "do-it-yourselfer," I chose a "home-made" approach rather than conforming to the common blogging systems such as Blogger or WordPress. The blog entries and archives are arranged in a sort of "proprietary" scheme that I have gradually developed over time. Finally, being an old-fashioned, soft-spoken kind of guy, I avoid attention-grabbing sensationalism and strident rhetoric, and strive instead to maintain a reasonable, dignified, respectful tone.

"It's not just a blog, it's an adventure!"



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My blog practices

My general practice is to make no more than one blog post per day on any one category. For this reason, some blog posts may address more than one specific issue, as indicated by separate headings. If something important happens during the day after I make a blog post, I may add an updated paragraph or section to it, using the word "UPDATE" and sometimes a horizontal rule to distinguish the new material from the original material. For each successive day, blog posts are listed on the central blog page (which brings together all topics) from top to bottom in the following (reverse alphabetical) order, which may differ from the order in which the posts were originally made:

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* part of "Macintosh & Miscellanous" until Feb. 2007

The date of each blog post refers to when the bulk of it was written, in the Eastern Time Zone. For each blog post, the time and date of the original posting (or the last update or comment thereupon) is displayed on the individual archival blog post page that appears (just before the comments section) when you click the [LINK / comments] link next to the date. Non-trivial corrections and clarifications to original blog entries are indicated by the use of [brackets] and/or strikethroughs, as appropriate so as to accurately convey both the factual truth and my original representation of it. Nobody's perfect, but I strive for continual improvement. That is also why some of the nature photos that appear on the archive pages may differ from the (inferior) ones that were originally posted.

The current "home made" blog organization system that I created, featuring real permalinks, was instituted on November 1, 2004. Prior to that date, blog posts were handled inconsistently, and for that reason the pre-2005 archives pages are something of a mess. Furthermore, my blogging prior to June 1, 2004 was often sporadic in terms of frequency.



 

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