War Memorial Stadium update
Well, that took some doing! After laboriously scrutinizing all the photos I could find for weeks on end, I finally came up with a suitably accurate set of revised diagrams for War Memorial Stadium. It was once the home of the Buffalo Bisons as well as the fictitious NL "New York Knights" from the movie The Natural (1983), starring Robert Redford. As usual, you can compare the new and old (in this case, 2012) diagram versions by clicking on the image, and then moving your mouse away. (Not suitable for mobile devices.) In general, the updated version is larger than the old version, especially along the north side of the huge roofed grandstand. All the usual details, such as home and visitor dugouts, slope of access ramps, and even the entry portals, which were not included in my diagrams until the latter part of 2011.
Note that most of those diagrams are larger than the standard size: 600 x 600 pixels rather than 500 x 480 pixels. In coming months, more and more diagrams will be revised to conform to the new standard, which allows for nearly all stadiums to fit without being truncated. It also allows more space for stadium profiles, which are very crowded on some pages.
Seeing the site of War Memorial Stadium in person was a very interesting experience. Unlike the sites of Griffith Stadium, Shibe Park, and Ebbets Field, where big buildings now occupy the space, there is a nice ball field and football field for public use, making it easier to imagine what it was like when the old stadium was still standing. That is why I took extra care to render the "site today" diagram.
For the record, I updated the Diagram update log for the first time this year. It only includes stadiums in which MLB games have been played (such as Sahlen Field in Buffalo, but not War Memorial Stadium), whereas the Stadium lists page includes various miscellaneous stadiums -- minor league, foreign, etc.
Nats struggle to stay afloat
The Washington Nationals surprised many people by winning their first two games in San Diego (6-3 on Thursday and 3-1 on Friday), and they took early 1-0 leads in both the Saturday and Sunday games. In both cases, however, home runs by former Nationals players put the Padres ahead in the latter innings, and the Nats lost both games 2-1. On Saturday, Juan Soto tied the game with a solo homer in the fifth inning, and two innings later Josh Bell also hit a solo homer. Bell had been doing poorly since donning the Padres uniform early this month, but his bat finally woke up. On Sunday he hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, and that was all the Padres needed. Patrick Corbin had been pitching his best game of the year, but for some reason manager Davey Martinez decided to leave him in just a little bit too long. (It's not the first time.) So, the Nats settled for a 2-2 series split, which is not bad, all things considered.
With today's loss, however, the Nats are now 38 games behind the Mets in the NL East standings. That ties for the lowest relative standing since the Nationals were "reborn" in 2005; on September 27, 2009 they were 38 games behind the Phillies, and then won their last seven games of the season, ending up 34 games behind. [This year,] in contrast, there is very little hope that the Nats could keep up the pace with the Mets, which means it is almost certain that they will end the season well over 40 games behind the Mets (or the Braves; see below). [In order to research games-behind historical data,] I recently went through my spreadsheets with all the daily game scores going back to 2005 [with some gaps in data filled from baseball-reference.com], and put them together to derive monthly data that is summarized in a new table on the Washington Nationals page.
One of the Nationals' bright new stars is a 30-year old guy from northwestern Mexico named Joey Meneses. He signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals in January, and was called up from Rochester on August 2. [He quickly became the first player in franchise history to hit four home runs in his first seven MLB games (see MLB.com), and] in his first 17 games in the major leagues so far, he has hit five home runs and has a .318 batting average. What a shame that his talent wasn't recognized by some MLB scout years before! He and former Padre Luke Voit will apparent share defensive duties at first base; Meneses has also played several games in the outfield. The Nats are also getting solid performance out of catcher Keibert Ruiz, who has been getting banged up by foul tips, etc. The Washington Post had an article about his physical travails [on Friday], and the announcers in this afternoon's game against the Padres also mentioned him being shaken up.
Dodgers soar, while Yankees slouch
The L.A. Dodgers continue to win at a truly historic pace, with a .700 (79-44) win-loss record. The St. Louis Cardinals have won their last seven games, widening their lead over the Brewers in the NL Central Division, but it is hard to see how they could catch up to the New York Mets, who have an inside track to the #2 seed in the playoffs on the NL side. The Atlanta Braves narrowed the gap in the NL East race recently, but the Mets will be very hard to overcome. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees have been slipping badly this month, falling behind the Houston Astros in the race for the #1 seed on the AL side. It's a wide-open race for the three AL wild cards slots, and the Rays, Blue Jays, and Mariners are currently tied, with three other teams close behind.