July 23, 2016
Just when you think the Washington Nationals have gotten themselves into a winning groove, they fall back into a slump again. But at least when they do win, they win big! In their only win since last weekend, on Wednesday, they charged out of the starting gate with a colossal first-inning home run by Bryce Harper. (See below.) After that, Ben Revere, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon all had homers for the Nationals, while Gio Gonzalez kept his cool on the mound for once, going six innings. Final score: Nats 8, Dodgers 1.
But the Dodgers bounced back on Thursday, as Stephen Strasburg suffered his very first loss of the year. [He is now 13-1.] It was all thanks to the home runs hit by Justin Turner, in the first and third innings. Strasburg pitched well, getting ten strikeouts, but just two errant pitches was all it took for the visiting team to prevail, 6-3. And thus the Nationals lost the series to the Dodgers, two games to one.
The Nats lost to the Padres in the first of a three-game series yesterday, their fourth loss in the last five games. Hopefully Max Scherzer will do better tonight; I'll deal with that later...
Speaking of slumps, Bryce Harper has had a rough two months now. However, he does occasionally show his latent super powers with a tape-measure home run, such as the one on Wednesday, estimated to have traveled 451 feet without the obstructing grandstand. If you look at page 18 of Robert Adair's book The Physics of Baseball, you'll see that [estimate] is consistent with the longest of the five alternative ball trajectories. MASN's F.P. Santangelo said the ball would have reached the Navy Yard if the upper deck weren't in the way. Well, not quite, but it probably would have left the ballpark and landed on First Street, S.E. I estimate that the ball landed 395 feet horizontally from home plate, and 86 feet vertically. You can see for yourself on the Stadiums superimposed page, by selecting the first line ("distances") from the upper scrolling menu ("Reference stadium") and then selecting Nationals Park, or indeed any stadium, from the lower scrolling menu ("Comparison stadium").
[UPDATE: hittrackeronline.com estimates that ball would have gone 449 feet; hat tip to Bruce Orser. From looking at the freeze-frame video, I could see that the ball landed in the 13th row of Section 236, in the third deck "Terrace" level in right field. (There are 21 rows total, so that was nearly two-thirds the way up.) I noticed that of the four people in the group, one was wearing a Boston Red Sox cap, and one was wearing an L.A. Dodgers cap. They were later given Nationals caps, perhaps in exchange for that ball. The Washington Post reported that it "landed in the lap of Rev. Dr. Susan Moore of D.C.'s All Souls Church..." The seat where it landed will probably be marked with red paint, as other tape-measure homers in Nationals Park have been.]
I just made some revisions to the Cleveland Stadium diagrams, and as usual the difficulty of the task turned out to exceed my expectations. Since the last such update on Sept. 8, 2012, I made some important discoveries, and not surprisingly, Bruce Orser deserves almost all the credit for research. Most significantly, he sent me an article from 1931 which provides rich detail on the exact overall dimensions of the stadium (800 feet long, and 725 feet wide), as well as number of rows in each deck, both in front of and behind the support beams. It also states very clearly something I suspected before: the roof actually extended several feet beyond the front edge of the upper deck! Another significant change was the center-field bleachers, which are bigger than before. Of course, I included those architectural details, along with the entry portals, etc. Finally, I realized that center field was oriented toward the northeast, not straight east as I previously thought. For some reason I had thought that the Lake Erie shore (to which the stadium was parallel) runs more or less east to west.
One of the photographic resources I consulted was phanfare.com. It shows the support beams and entry portals of Cleveland Stadium more clearly than any other places I have seen.
As followers of this Web site know, one of the detail enhancements every time I make a diagram update is the the bullpen, showing the pitching rubbers and plates and relief pitcher "dugouts," if any. In this case, that task was made much easier by the photos contained in the book Strike Three: My Years in the 'Pen, by Dr. Thomas Tomsick. He discusses, among many other things, the effect of moving the bullpen from beyond the center field fence to the spaces near the foul poles. In my diagrams of Cleveland Stadium, the bullpen pitching mounds are rendered in dark brown to distinguish them from the warning tracks.
Speaking of which, many thanks to Dr. Tomsick for once again sponsoring the Cleveland Stadium page; that is where he used to serve as the bullpen catcher for the Indians. He wrote a wonderful book about his experiences in Cleveland and other American League cities during the mid-1960s. The Indians had a superior pitching rotation in 1966, consisting of Luis Tiant, Sam McDowell, Sonny Siebert, Steve Hargan, and Gary Bell. They were in first place until June, but then steadily fell back, finishing the season in fifth place (out of ten), with an 81-81 record.
Speaking of Cleveland, Donald Trump was there this week, speaking at a political gathering in Quicken Loans Arena. I bet he would have loved Cleveland Stadium. Why? Because it was HYU-U-UGE! During their convention, the Republicans rented out next-door Progressive Field as a display venue for all sorts of political vendors. FUN FACT: Even thought Progressive Field is named after a company, not an ideology, the company's long-time president Peter Lewis indeed was a progressive, or as the Washington Post called him, a "liberal mega-donor." He passed away three years ago.