January 24, 2016
After a flurry of rumors last week about the Washington Nationals trying to get free agent Yoenis Cespedes, he signed a three-year contract with the Mets for $75 million, with an opt-out clause after the 2016 season. Cespedes was without a doubt the key factor behind the Mets' big surge during the last two and a half months of the 2015 season, overtaking the Nationals in the NL East and making it all the way to the World Series. See MLB.com.
Obviously, the Cespedes deal will help the Mets in the 2016 NL East race. They still have that awesome trio of pitchers this year (Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard), and it will likely be a tough struggle for the divisional title once again.
From my perspective, that announcement was a bit of a relief, as a contract between the Nats and Cespedes would have put veteran Jayson Werth's job in left field in jeopardy. At present, it's Bryce Harper in right field, Ben Revere in center field, with Michael Taylor as the backup outfielder. Who would be the odd man out? On Facebook I remarked that acquiring Cespedes could have had the same disastrous, morale-depressing effect on the clubhouse that acquiring Jonathan Papelbon did last year. Werth has two more years on his contract, which has a no-trade clause, and he will be paid a cool $42 million. He's got plenty of slugging ability left, and as long as he stays healthy (unlike last year), he can be expected to lead the Nats toward another postseason appearance.
For some time, I've been aware that the AT&T Park diagrams were lacking [the last diagram update was in 2012], so I spent some time today making some corrections. As usual, what was supposed to be a minor "tweak" ended up taking more time than planned. There is new detail in the upper deck entry portals, such as the stairs between the upper and lower portions of the upper deck, and correcting the lower deck entry portals. I also added gray lines which represent the "creases" in the grandstand, and corrected the dugouts (smaller than before) and the light towers along the first and third base sides (longer than before). I also noticed that the big entry tunnel which used to be near the home dugout on the third base side was removed several years ago, perhaps to make room for more seats. (The tunnel on the right side is still there.) Later on I may add a second-deck diagram.
Let me thank Glenn Simpkins once again for the photos of AT&T Park he shared, which proved very useful in getting the upper deck entry portals and stairs just right. (I combined them into an "extreme" panorama, shown on that page.)
By the way, it appears that the "San Francisco Bowl" (or various name variations thereof) has not been played at AT&T Park since 2013, now that Levi's Stadium (home of the 49ers) is available for use. That will be the site of Super Bowl L (I know, it has officially been designated "Super Bowl 50"), in which the Denver Broncos will take on the Carolina Panthers. It's experienced Peyton Manning against the youthful Cam Newton. Should be a lot of fun.
Also by the way, notwithstanding the massive blizzard we just had here in the east, baseball spring training begins next month, and Opening Day (April 4) is just ten weeks away!
Mike Zurawski wrote to express great satisfaction in the way the Rams relocation back to Los Angeles was handled. He noted that St. Louis has had mediocre football attendance for many years, and the city was just not able to afford building a replacement stadium. Mike also explained some of the cut-throat negotiations behind the scenes, putting the Chargers ahead of the Raiders as far as partnering with the Rams to build a new stadium in Inglewood. Mike says the Raiders'-Chargers' stadium plan in Carson, California was fatally flawed. This New York Times article explains why St. Louis is probably better off without a football team.
A guy representing a group of musicians in San Francisco asked to use my Candlestick Park diagram as part of the art work for a music CD which they intend to publish this year, commemorating the Beatles' last concert in 1966. Cool!
A baseball fan and relics collector named Ken Finnigan is trying to acquire a authenticated brick from Griffith Stadium. He has checked the usual online sources, but thought someone who follows this Web site might know.
Finally, here's a heart-warming story involving baseball fans of the opposing teams in the Windy City of Chicago. A young White Sox fans named Drew Duszynski (age 5) was in urgent need of a kidney transplant, because of a life-threatening congenital disease. A Cubs fan named Chris White (age 35) happened to be a perfect match, so they went ahead with the transplant operation in December. Both are now doing fine, and the urban community as a whole is a little bit stronger than before. Read all about it at redeyechicago.com.