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March 10, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Yes, another Wrigley Field update!

Wrigley Field

In yet another unexpected diversion from my planned tasks, the diagrams and text on the Wrigley Field page have been updated. For most of the diagram variations, however, the changes were only minor. It was only last October that I thought I had (almost) all the details nailed down. The big remaining uncertainty was the precise configuration of the early years, 1914-1922. (The 1914 diagram even had a caveat: "work in progress.") Well, thanks to some old charts brought to my attention by Bruce Orser, most of my lingering doubts have been erased.

For many hours, I had agonized at being unable to reconcile contradictory photographic evidence pertaining to the periods before and after the "big change" was made prior to the 1923 season. The right foul line seemed to point toward a particular building across Sheffield Avenue, but that would have cut right through the grandstand, based on my understanding. It just made no sense. At one point, I even concluded that the first base side of the grandstand (the portion which was said to have remained in place during the 1923 changes) must have been rotated a few degrees.

It turns out that when the "big change" was made, 14 rows of seats were added to the front of the grandstand, not ten as I had previously assumed. (That was based on the position of the lateral walkway, a distinctive point which seemed logical.) Those four non-existent rows would have extended about eleven feet forward, and once I revised the 1914 diagram accordingly, the discrepancy vanished. Eureka! For more on all this, see

That led to untangling the other uncertainties of the early years, and for that purpose, Ron Selter's fine book Ballparks of the Deadball Era (2008) came in very handy. The original location (or locations) of the left field fence is a little hazy, as the buildings along Waveland Avenue were in the process of being vacated and demolished. The revised 1914 diagram has two lines for the left field fences, the first pertaining to the first series at Wrigley (or Weeghman Park, as it was then known), and the second pertaining to the rest of the season, from May on. Those lines are based on Selter's descriptions, his dimension estimates, and the photographs I've seen. Further evidence might lead me to make changes in those, however. In contrast, I am fairly confident about the 1915 diagram (which is brand new); the only question is whether the deepest corner was to the left (as Selter states) or to the right (as I believe) of dead center field.

There are two other notable changes, and one tiny one. First, the upper deck on the left side extends about ten feet farther out than I previously estimated. That necessitated changing the positions of the support beams, the light towers, and some of the entry portals on that side. Second, the lower-deck seats near the left field corner angled in a bit more sharply than I previously estimated. Finally, the boundary of the park, which was the left field wall from 1928 until 1937, is about two feet farther out than before. The only reason I bothered with that was wanting to match the reported left field dimension of 364 feet during those years. Newspaper accounts of the removal of the left field bleachers in mid-1925 indicate a distance of 370 feet, but I have grave doubts about that.

Anyway, to sum up the results of all these findings, I present this overlaid diagram, showing that home plate did indeed move about 60 feet between 1922 and 1923. (In my previous diagrams, the change was more like 50 feet.) It also shows that the diamond was rotated by a couple degrees in a counter-clockwise direction, something I previously believed was impossible.

Wrigley Field 1915, 1923

Nationals are doing well, mostly

Everybody knows that spring training games count for nothing and are useless as far as predicting how well teams will do in the regular season. With that disclaimer, it may be worth noting that the Washington Nationals won six of their first seven games this year. New players Ben Revere and Stephen Drew are both hitting very well so far, but not Daniel Murphy. (It feels weird discussing so many new names connected to the Nationals.) Then the Nats lost to the Tigers on Wednesday and to the Astros on Thursday, so their record is now down to 6-3. The pitchers are performing well, overall, both starters and relievers, but the absence of Ryan Zimmerman from spring training is a major cause for concern. That plantar fascitis foot problem is apparently still bothering him. I think it's safe to say that the Nationals' fortunes this year will hinge to a large degree on how healthy the mid-career Zimmerman and the aging veteran Jayson Werth are.

Ballpark news

Here are a couple noteworthy items, first from Mike Zurawski. In Denver, they are raising the height of the outfield fence in the left field corner (from 8 feet to 13 feet) and in front of the bullpens in right-center field (from about 8 feet to 16.5 feet). One expert estimated that, as a result, "home runs at Coors Field could fall by 5-6 percent." See

Second, Alex Peneton alerted me to a diagram with provisional dimensions for SunTrust Park, which will become the home of the Braves next year. (Turner Field is being abandoned after a brief 20-year period of use in the major leagues.) From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

More news to follow soon...

March 11, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Busch Stadium III update

Busch Stadium III

Just to make sure I get all three* St. Louis stadiums done, while preparing to finish Sportsman's Park (!), I went ahead and made a few corrections and enhancement to the Busch Stadium III diagrams. The most notable change is the greater detail in the lower-deck lateral walkways, showing the barrier on the back side and the small stairs leading up to each respective section-dividing aisle. In addition, the grandstand along the first and third base lines is now a few feet closer to the diamond than before, while the sharp bend in the grandstand beyond third base is about ten feet farther away than it was before. Those two changes partly offset each other in terms of the total amount of foul territory, which I now estimate to be 25,200 square feet rather than 25,400 square feet.

* Not counting Robison Field, where the Cardinals played until 1919, and which will take me at least several more months to get to...

The baseball labor talks

One looming issue in baseball this year is the negotiation betweens owners and players. On Monday the Washington Post had an article profiling the new Major League Baseball Players Assocation chief, Tony Clark. In it, Barry Svrluga compared Clark's style to that of his predecessor Donald Fehr, who left that position after 2009 after serving for 24 years. Clark is not only the first MLBPA executive director to have been an MLB player, he was a pretty good one, being second in the draft pick order right behind Chipper Jones in 1990. He's tall (6' 7") and has a direct, matter-of-fact way of speaking that may yield more effective bargaining results. The owners also have a new front man, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who replaced Bud Selig just over a year ago. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in December, so the two sides need to reach a compromise before then to avoid another catstrophic strike.

Wrigley Field photos

I forgot to mention that I added a few more photos to the Wrigley Field page when I made the diagram updates yesterday. Here is an interesting view you don't often see:

Wrigley Field top upper deck

Top of the upper deck at Wrigley Field, after the game on July 19, 2012.

March 18, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Some pretty bird photos

I've been pretty busy during this first week after spring break, but I did get outside for a while yesterday, walking around the boat pond at Sweet Briar College. For a while, all I could see was a couple Canada Geese and some Turkey Vultures, and then I heard a splash and spotted a Pied-billed Grebe about 50 yards away. Photo op! At that range, however, the image quality was only average.

Then this morning, as I was driving through the wooded area on the way into the Sweet Briar campus, I saw a bird fly up from the ground to the side of a tree, and quickly identified it as a Red-headed Woodpecker: beautiful! They are common in rural South Dakota, but I only see them on rare occasions in Virginia.

As spring approaches, I thought it would be nice to put on display this montage of wild bird photos that I have taken over the past couple years. I shared it on Facebook a couple weeks ago.

Wild bird montage 2016

Burrowing Owl (Las Vegas NWR, NM, July 2, 2014 -- reverse image);
Red-breasted Merganser (Lake Shenandoah, February 24, 2014);
Yellow-breasted Chat (Patagonia, AZ, June 30, 2014);
Purple Gallinule (Waynesboro, May 29, 2014);
Summer Tanager (San Pedro River, AZ, June 28, 2014);
Gray Hawk (Nogales, AZ, June 28, 2014);
Virginia Rail (Bell's Lane, February 20, 2016); and
CENTER: Magnolia Warbler (Montgomery Hall Park, May 7, 2014)

Speaking of wild bird photos, I entered an annual contest sponsored by Virginia Wildlife magazine, and the above Virginia Rail photo was one of the three which I submitted.

March 19, 2016 [LINK / comment]

New page: Stadium diagrams

In the process of assessing my progress toward rendering all Major League Baseball stadiums (since the second decade of the 20th Century, that is), I have created a brand-new page: Stadium diagrams. It is unique in that it does not compare the stadiums per se, but rather my renditions of them. It shows the number of variations (major changes from year to year), lower-deck versions, upper-deck versions, football and other sports versions, and also lists particular features such as entry portals and support beams.

Arroyo's future in doubt

Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals this year, in hopes of returning to the majors, has suffered a health setback: a partially torn rotator cuff. It's not as bad as originally thought, but he will still be in rehabilitation for at least four weeks. If he doesn't improve, he may decide to retire. See

The Nats are red hot!

Granted, it doesn't matter one bit, but it's nice to point out that the Washington Nationals have the second-highest winning percentage in this majors this spring, .800 (12-3). The winningest team right now is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are 14-4. The Nats' game against the Mets today was called off because of weather. Speaking of which, we had snow here in Virginia today. Up until now, it has been a very warm March. Rookie pitcher Lucas Giolito performed very well in his first (unofficial) major league outing.

Adam LaRoche retires

Former Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche has decided to retire for personal reasons, even though he still has one year left on his contract with the Chicago White Sox. My first thought was that he must have a lot saved up if he doesn't need the $13 million in salary he would have been paid. But then we learned it was in reaction to being told by The Management that LaRoche's son was spending too much time with the team in the dugout. It's one of those awkward situations that depends on the personalities involved, and in this case, the team mates didn't seem to mind at all. White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams is taking some heat for what happened. See

LaRoche racked up 255 home runs, 882 RBIs, and an average of .260 during his 12 years in the majors. Eighty-two of those homers were when he was with the Nationals, from 2011 through 2014. I didn't always give him as much credit as he was due, and it's worth pointing out that he played a key part in both the Nationals' division championships, 2012 and 2014. Besides Chicago (AL), LaRoche also played for Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Arizona.

Adam LaRoche

Adam LaRoche made it to second base after hitting a single for the Chicago White Sox last July 21, in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at U.S. Cellular Field.

March 24, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Baseball diplomacy in Cuba

During his historic visit to Cuba this week, President Obama took the time to enjoy a game of beísbol (baseball) with Cuban President Raul Castro, in which the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Cuban national team, 4-1. After the game, the players exchanged jerseys with each other as a goodwill gesture. See, and (en español) It's ironic (and tragic) that such hard feelings exist between two neighboring countries who share a love for Our National Pastime. As for the politics of the visit, and the rather silly complaints about Obama seeing a ballgame in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels, see

New page: Estadio Latinoamericano

Estadio Latinoamericano

To mark the first visit of a U.S. president to Cuba since the 1920s, I present a diagram (and rather sketchy, preliminary page of text) for Estadio Latinoamericano. Obviously, it was a rush job, so there will no doubt be revisions in the months (or years?) to come. Who knows, I might even visit that ballpark myself some time.

If you think about it, this old stadium is a lot like all the '57 Chevies and other antique classic U.S.-made automobiles you see on the streets of Havana: not much appreciated during the ultra-modernizing years of the 1950s and 1960s, but now treasured as priceless relics. Of particular note are the inclined light towers, similar to the ones in Estadio Dennis Martinez in Nicaragua and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. Also, the huge, three-tiered bleacher section in the outfield is unique as far as I know.

The marked dimensions of Estadio Latinoamericano are:

Given that the outfield fences are perpendicular, the power alleys ought to be about 352 feet, so I assume that the markers are a bit toward the foul poles from the true power alleys. See the Outfield trigonometry page.

Nats are still red hot

The Washington Nationals trounced the New York Yankees 13-0 yesterday, a game which of course meant almost nothing. Wilson Ramos hit a home run, while Ben Revere, Anthony Rendon, and Matt den Dekker all had multi-hit games, and Steven Strasburg struck out nine batters over five innings. Not bad at all! Today the Nats beat the St. Louis Cardinals, , 8-2, raising their record in the pre-season to 15-4. The Arizona Diamondbacks still have the highest win-loss record: 19-4.

March 25, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Opening Day! Baseball in Japan

Opening Day is still ten days away in the U.S. of A., but in the Land of the Rising Sun the 2016 season for professional baseball has officially begun. The Nipponese version of the Yankees, the Yomiuri Giants, won their opener (at home in the Tokyo Dome) by a score of 3-1, over the Yakult Swallows. See Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB).

Ichiro's swan song

On the subject of Japanese baseball, this is expected to be Ichiro Suzuki's final year in the majors. With 2,935 career hits in the majors (not counting about 1,300 hits during his nine years with the Orix in Japan), the Miami Marlins outfielder is well within reach of crossing the landmark 3,000 threshold this year. It should happen some time in midsummer.

Tokyo Dome

Tokyo Dome update

To mark the occasion of Japan's Opening Day, I updated the Tokyo Dome page with a dynamic diagram for the first time. Much like the Rogers Centre diagrams, which I updated last year, it shows the support pillars and roof, helping make sense of the unique symmetrical and asymmetrical features of the architectural design. Two of the best photographic sources I used were Zack Hample (famed baseball snagger) and Craig Lotter. Enjoy!

The last diagram update for the Tokyo Dome was in March 2009 -- not as old and moldy as some of my diagrams, but close. Soon after the last MLB games played there ( Spring 2012), I wrote "I'll have to update that diagram sometime soon..." Sooner or later, that is!

And speaking of updates, the Japanese Leagues page is in dire need of one... In the mean time, you can check out Yakyujo - Ballparks in Japan, and

March 26, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Trump triumphs, Republican Party implodes

As expected, Donald Trump won most of the primary and caucus elections on Super Tuesday (March 1), and he followed that up by winning four out of five states two weeks later, on March 15. John Kasich won his home state of Ohio, surviving his big life-or-death test, whereas Rubio failed his test in his home state of Florida. At this point, Trump enjoys a big lead in delegates over Ted Cruz (see below), and it all boils down to three remaining big states: New York (April 19), Pennsylvania (April 26), and California (June 7). Trump will probably wrap up the race and secure the nomination by June, over a month before the Republican convention in Cleveland.

Or maybe not. The opposition to Trump is so strong that some "establishment" Republicans such as Lindsey Graham have resorted to endorsing Cruz as the lesser of two evils in trying to stop Trump. To me that shows a lack of integrity. As George Will wrote in Washington Post, such opportunism will hurt those politicians' reputations. I disagree with the "pragmatists." Cruz can't get a majority of delegates via primaries and caucuses, so the only way he can win is on a second (or later) ballot, which is the same position Kasich is in. These are truly desperate times we live in, and desperate measures are needed. The Grand Old Party is cracking wide open before our eyes, and frankly a lot of Trump and Cruz supporters actually want it that way.

Rubio drops out, field narrows to 3

Back in January, few people could have imagined that Marco Rubio and Chris Christie would drop out of the race before John Kasich, but as I wrote after the New Hampshire primary, Kasich was (and remains) the only remaining viable Republican candidate who can win in November. That puts me in an odd position, because I really didn't expect Kasich to have much of a shot at the nomination, and now he's the only sane candidate left. Along those lines, Independent Journal lists "4 Reasons #NeverTrump Conservatives Should Stop Telling John Kasich to Drop Out of the 2016 Race"

As the campaign has progressed, my view of Trump has only worsened. Anyone who threatens or even implies violence if he doesn't get his way is a menace to civilized democratic politics. Granted, as Charles Krauthammer (no fan of Trump) wrote in his March 17 Washington Post column, the protesters disrupting Trump rallies earlier this month are just as much to blame for the fascist style of political agitation. But Trump is simply beyond the pale, and I am now considering whether I might vote for Cruz in the November if he gets nominated. Indeed, when I took one of those Facebook polls a few months ago, I was appalled to see that my supposed candidate (based on the issues) was Ted Cruz. I don't agree with Kasich about every issue, most notably his support of a compromise measure in Ohio under which Medicaid was expanded as part of Obamacare. I read somebody disparaging Kasich for favoring "amnesty" for illegal aliens recently, and that is just stupid. Kasich has made it clear that the path to full citizenship should be contingent upon the immigrant waiting in line behind others who have already applied for legal status, and upon full payment of back taxes. For most illegal immigrants, that is just not feasible, and in my mind that means they should leave.

Anyway, you can read about John Kasich's position on the major issues at


Do I expect Kasich to win? No, of course not. He's probably got about a ten percent chance at best, but at least there is a shred of hope to cling to. For me, one of the biggest ironies that the "anti-establishment" crowd rallies around a sitting U.S. senator whose political ambitions are transparent, and a billionaire who is the very epitome of crony capitalism, while the other candidate -- Kasich -- has not served in Washington for well over a decade.

Sanders bounces back

On the Democratic side, after getting thrashed by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders bounced back tonight, winning Alaska and Washington (state) by HUGE (!) margins: 73%-27% and 82%-18%, respectively. There's very little chance that he'll get the nomination, but the more pressure he (and perhaps the Justice Department) put on her, the better the chances for the Republicans this fall.

As a possible sign of better luck to come, a wild bird landed on the podium where Sanders was speaking in Portland Oregon today, briefly interrupting his speech. After it flew away, he said it was the dove of peace, or something like that. See

Delegate race scoreboard

At Sweet Briar College, I posted a big spreadsheet on the wall, showing the delegates won by each candidate in each state that has had a primary election or caucus thus far. I'll post that on this Web site in the next couple days. In the mean time, here are the current totals:

Democratic candidates # of delegates Republican candidates # of delegates
H. Clinton 1,703 D. Trump 739
B. Sanders 985 T. Cruz 465
Uncommitted 160 M. Rubio 166
Martin O'Malley 0 J. Kasich 143
- - Uncommitted, others 24
Needed for Nomination 2,383 Needed for Nomination 1,237


Romney rallies the "Establishment"

Mitt Romney made a speech right after Trump's Super Tuesday triumph, calling Trump "A con man, a fake," among other things. This was at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, where Mormons predominate. See As I wrote about this on Facebook, "Trump is a complete fraud, and the scary thing is that many of his supporters don't even care."

For the record, Romney (who is widely considered a "RINO" by the grassroots activists who support Trump and Cruz) was my initial second favorite GOP candidate four years ago, when the 2012 primary season was getting started. I expressed a favorable view of Chris Christie, but he had already decided not to run.

Virginia primary election results

For the record, here are the results from the Virginia primary election on March 1. Of particular note is the close margin (under three percent) between the winner (Trump) and the second-place candidate (Rubio). In one sense, it is true that if just half of Kasich voters had sided with Rubio instead, he would have beaten Donald Trump, and that might have changed the whole complexion of the race. We'll never know for sure...

2557 precincts of 2557 (100.00%) reporting
Donald Trump356,56834.8%17
Marco Rubio327,62232.0%16
Ted Cruz171,05516.7%8
John Kasich97,4399.5%5
Ben Carson60,1785.9%3
Jeb Bush3,6300.4%0
Rand Paul2,9280.3%0
Mike Huckabee1,4700.1%0
Chris Christie (Withdrawn)1,1030.1%0
Carly Fiorina (Withdrawn)9150.1%0
Jim Gilmore6450.1%0
Rick Santorum (Withdrawn)5040.1%0
Lindsey Graham (Withdrawn)4440.0%0

SOURCE: (State Board of Elections)

If it weren't for Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham being on the ballot, Jim Gilmore would have finished dead last in his own home state. Ouch!

Here in Staunton, Marco Rubio beat Donald Trump, with 1,025 votes compared to 998 votes.

March 26, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Field trip to Chimney Hollow

This morning I "led" an Augusta Bird Club field trip to one of my favorite places, Chimney Hollow. Other than the fact that I showed up a half hour late, by which time everybody else had already left (!), it was a great success. I heard a Pine Warbler as soon as stepped out of my car, and eventually saw many of them. Likewise for Blue-headed Vireos, and Red-breasted Nuthatches. I also had a great views of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and some Brown Creepers. All of those birds are pictured in the montage below. Also notable: a Cooper's Hawk chasing a Pileated Woodpecker! (Until I saw that I was wondering why it had been making such a racket.) I heard some Wild Turkeys gobbling, but didn't see any. I didn't see the hoped-for Northern Waterthrush, Winter Wren, or Hermit Thrush, but I think I heard the latter. Otherwise, most of the usual woodland birds. (The full list submitted to eBirds is shown below.) Being alone, I decided to hike much farther than usual, and in fact I saw most of the birds along a "saddle" ridge from whence the Chimney Hollow stream begins. I ended up climbing a few hundred feet altogether, up to where there are nice views of the mountains to the west. Next time I will make sure my alarm clock is properly set.

Birds Montage 26 Mar 2016

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Pine Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Creeper (rotated to fit), and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Frankly, I was stunned that I was able to get such a nice closeup shot of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. (The red throat indicates that it's a male.) Larger-sized images of the above birds can be seen on the Wild Birds yearly page, along with photos of a Pied-billed Grebe which I took at Sweet Briar College on Monday, the Bald Eagle nest in Swoope which I took on March 11, and a few others.

eBird report (LINK):

Location: Chimney Hollow Trail, Augusta County, Virginia, US ( Map )
Date and Effort: Sat Mar 26, 2016 8:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
Party Size: 1
Duration: 4 hour(s), 30 minute(s)
Distance: 3.0 mile(s)
Observers: Andrew Clem
Comments: N/A
Species: 20 species total

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