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July 8, 2024 [LINK / comment]

High heat hinders Herz, Nats fall

My first baseball game this year was quite an ordeal to endure, and it wasn't any easier for the players on the field. Temperatures soared into the mid-90s once again, no doubt raising beverage sales at the concession stands in Nationals Park. (I tried a tasty and refreshing "Dr. Juicy IPA," made by the Silver Branch Brewing Co. of Silver Spring, Maryland.) I was joined by my wife Jacqueline, for the first time in several years! She thought I should have chosen seats in the shade, and indeed I should have known better that there is more sun on the first base side in the afternoon. In the latter innings, we "retreated" to the upper gallery level, where the small roof at Nationals Park shielded us from the sun.

Nationals Park from 1B side

It was a beautiful day in the ballpark ... if you like sun, at least!

D.J. Herz, who was called up from the minors and joined the Nats' rotation on June 4 after Trevor Williams went on the injured list, got outs from the first five batters he faced. Then he walked Brendan Donovan and induced Nolan Gorman to hit a high pop up to short left field. It looked like an easy out, but James Wood took his time getting there, and the ball dropped right in front of him for a "double." It may have been that he couldn't see the ball because of the sun, and in fact he wasn't wearing sunglasses. As you can see from this composite photo, almost all his team mates were. In any case, the result was a run scored, and then the next batter, Dylan Carlson, singled to bring in a second run.

Nationals lineup 07 July 2024

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: James Wood* (LF), Jesse Winker* (DH), C.J. Abrams (SS), Trey Lipscomb* (3B), Lane Thomas (RF), Juan Yepez* (1B), Luis Garcia (2B), D.J. Herz* (P), Jacob Young* (CF), and Riley Adams (C).

* Asterisks denote new Nationals players this year.

The Nats quickly shook out that setback as two of their first three batters doubled in the bottom of the second inning: Jesse Winker and Juan Yepez, just called up from the minors to replace Joey Meneses. Two more Nats hit singles in that inning, thus tying the game, 2-2. In the fourth inning Paul Goldschmidt hit a leadoff double and later scored on a single by Nolan Gorman. D.J. Herz was getting through some tough situations, but his pitch count rose 102 and the heat was really getting to him. (Weather often cuts both ways in sports competition; it imbues both teams with a "brittle" quality such that the slightest misfortune causes the unlucky team to crack under the strain.) After a weird play in which Alec Burleson was awarded first base on catcher's interference, following a strikeout and a walk, Davey Martinez decided that enough was enough.

DJ Herz exits mound visit

Manager Davey Martinez takes the ball from starting pitcher D.J. Herz, who exits the mound after getting one out in the [fifth] inning.

Unfortunately, the relief pitcher, Dylan Floro, was not effective at all. The first batter he faced, Wilson Contreras, hit an RBI single, as did the third batter, Nolan Arenado. After he gave up a third single, he was replaced by Robert Garcia, who finished the fifth inning and then the sixth inning without further damage. In the sixth inning the Nats loaded the bases with nobody out, but only managed to score one run. In the top of the seventh, the next Nats pitcher, Derek Law gave up a leadoff single and then a home run (to Wilson Contreras), as the Cardinals took a five-run lead. In the bottom of that inning, the Nats loaded the bases with two outs, but failed to score. Their only base runner in the last two innings was C.J. Abrams, who was hit by a pitch. Final score: Cardinals 8, Nationals 3. Attendance was only 19,782, negatively affected by the heat but boosted by a special promotion giveaway: free baseball hats to kids 12 and under. All the extra youthful enthusiasm was nice to see.

It should be noted that D.J. Herz struck out 13 batters in his third-ever MLB appearance on June 15, and 10 more on July 2. He thereby joined Stephen Strasburg, becoming the only other rookie pitchers in history (since 1901) to strike out at least ten batters in two of their first six MLB starts without giving up a walk. That is just incredible! Unfortunately his efforts yesterday were thwarted by defensive miscues and lack of clutch hitting.

In the final game of the series this afternoon, the Cardinals scored first (in the third inning) on a throwing error by C.J. Abrams, and later added solo home runs by Paul Goldschmidt and Alex Burleson, etc., etc. Final score: 6-0.

Tomorrow the Nats begin a three-game series in New York against the Mets, who will remain in [sole possession of] third place in the NL East unless the Nats somehow sweep them, followed by a three game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Then comes the All-Star break!

All-Star picks are announced

The 2024 All-Star rosters were officially unveiled over the weekend. In the American League, four teams got two starting players each: the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Guardians, and the Houston Astros. Aaron Judge and former Washington National Juan Soto will represent the Bronx Bombers. As for the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies dominated with three All-Star starting players: Bryce Harper (1B), Trea Turner (SS), and Alec Bohm (3B). The first two are former Nationals, of course. The Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres also two All-Star starters each. The Midsummer Classic will take place eight days hence in Globe Life Field, in beautiful Arlington, Texas.

C.J. Abrams is an All-Star!

Washington Nationals shortstop C.J. Abrams was chosen for the All-Star Game for the first time, somewhat to my surprise. He excels in certain statistical categories, but he is still lacking in experience, as evidenced by his repeated base-running blunders.

Nevertheless, two obvious choices for the All-Star team were overlooked: starting pitcher Jake Irvin (whose WHIP* is 4th best in the NL) and closing pitcher Kyle Finnegan (whose 23 saves are tied for 3rd best in all of baseball). What a ripoff! Mark Zuckerman explains the anomaly at masnsports.com. Selections are based in part on popularity (votes by fans), partly on the players themselves, and partly on MLB insiders. NO Nationals players were selected by either of the first two methods, and since there were only eight remaining slots to fill by MLB, and all 30 teams had to be allotted at least one All-Star player, there just wasn't much "wiggle room." IMHO, they should have picked Irvin over Abrams. Oh well.

As a public service, I have compiled the records for the Nationals's regular starters this year, as well as their closer, ranked according to ERA. It includes Trevor Williams, who has been on the injured list for over a month, as well as the guy who replaced him, D.J. Herz, mainly because of his recent spectacular strikeout performances. Notably absent is Josiah Gray, who has been out since the early part of the season.

* WHIP = Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched.

Washington Nationals pitchers, 1st half of 2024
Pitcher name Wins Losses ERA Strikeouts WHIP Innings Pitched
Kyle Finnegan 2 4 2.17 39 0.96 37.1
Trevor Williams 5 0 2.22 47 1.08 56.2
Jake Irvin 7 6 2.80 94 1.00 106.0
Mitchell Parker 5 5 3.44 74 1.09 91.2
Mackenzie Gore 6 7 3.83 112 1.44 94.0
D.J. Herz 1 3 5.17 41 1.40 31.1
Patrick Corbin 1 8 5.49 68 1.53 100.0

 

Indianapolis stadium stuff

In my post last Tuesday, I should have explained the significance of Bush Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Otherwise, who cares?) It was called Perry Stadium from 1931 through 1942, and then Victory Field from 1943 through most of 1967, and finally Owen J. Bush Stadium from then until 1995, after which it was replaced by a new Victory Field, which I visited in August 2017. The old Victory Field served as the home of various Negro League teams, including the Indianapolis ABCs and the Indianapolis Clowns. (See the Negro Leagues page, which is in need of updating.) Another big reason for this venue's interest to baseball fans is that it was where most of the game scenes in the movie Eight Men Out (1988), starring Tom Cusack, was filmed. People in Indianapolis are to be commended for helping to preserve a small but significant piece of baseball history. (See the Baseball movies page.)

Stadium Lofts and Flats

"Stadium Lofts and Flats," a couple miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis, converted into apartments in 2013.

Also of possible interest to stadium buffs is the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a.k.a. "The Brickyard," with a seating capacity of about 250,000.

And finally, I've been working on a new diagram of Birmingham's Rickwood Field, which should be ready in the next couple days.


July 7, 2024 [LINK / comment]

Nats celebrate on Fourth of July!

After two absolutely horrendous extra-inning losses to the New York Mets to open this week's four-game series in Washington, the Nationals bounced back in handy fashion. On Wednesday Luis Garcia hit two home runs, helping the Nats to beat the Mets, 7-5. And on July 4, with the game starting shortly after 11:00 in the morning (to make room for all the other festivities later that day in Washington), Jake Irvin pitched eight full innings while only allowing one hit, a phenomenal performance. In the bottom of th eighth Jesse Winker came in to pinch-hit, and knocked a solo homer over the wall in right-center field. That was all the Nats needed to win, and thus split the four-game series with the Mets.

I was in Washington on the last Fourth of July, but missed the game on account of other activities. (The Nationals lost that day's game to the Cincinnati Reds, 8-4, so I didn't miss much.)

On Friday night, the St. Louis Cardinals came to town. The Nats had a 5-0 lead after three innings, but the visitors began to close the gap. Kyle Finnegan came in to close the game in the top of the ninth inning, but Wilson Contreras tied the game 5-5 on a solo home run. The Nats kept blowing scoring opportunities, and it was just embarrassing. The Cards ended up winning 7-6 after 11 innings. In Saturday's game the Nationals again piled up runs in the early innings, but Mackenzie Gore was replaced in the fourth inning after walking three batters in a row. The real highlight of that game was rookie James Wood's first career MLB home run; he had five RBIs in that game, which the Nats won easily, 14-6.

Game 3 of the four-game series with the Cards starts at 1:35 this afternoon, with the Nats' amazing rookie starting pitcher D.J. Herz on the mound, and I'll be there!

Welcome to Washington, James Wood!

The arrival of the young slugger James Wood has been anticipated ever since he was part of the big trade with the San Diego Padres for Juan Soto and Josh Bell nearly two years ago. (Nothing against Juan Soto, who's an All-Star again, this time with the New York Yankees, but in retrospect that trade has proven to be highly advantageous for the Nationals.) Wood (note the singular) is quite tall (6' 7", I think) and happens to be a "home town boy," growing up in suburban Maryland. In his first at bat with the Nationals (on Monday, against the Mets) he hit a single, and on Wednesday's game he hit the go-ahead RBI. No doubt he will be a huge boost for the Nats, even if they don't end up as postseason contenders this year. I read on Facebook that the pitcher who gave up Wood's first MLB home run yesterday (Lance Lynn) was the very same pitcher who gave up the game-winning home run to Jayson Werth in Game 4 of the 2012 NLCS. What a coincidence!

Other roster changes

The Nationals' starting pitching (and their closing pitcher Kyle Finnegan) have been simply splendid this season, with the obvious exception of Patrick Corbin. (He pitches well enough about half the time.) But the Nats' repeated failure to get hits when they need them has had serious consequences: Victor Robles was designated for assignment several weeks ago. He was one of the few remaining Nationals from the 2019 World Series championship team, so that was sad. Too many base-running errors and mental mistakes. This week Nick Senzel has been designated for assignment, however, and the Nats might have to pay over $900,000 remaining on his contract without getting anything in return. That's a bummer. Also, first baseman Joey Gallo has been on the injured list for a few weeks, and it's uncertain if and when he will return to the starting lineup. He has really not panned out at all for the Nationals.

I was stunned to learn that one of my favorite New Nationals, first baseman / designated hitter Joey Meneses, has been sent back down to the minors in hopes that he can work himself out of prolonged batting slump. He has been doing just fine defensively, and he still gets clutch hits with some regularity, but his batting average (about .230) has lagged behind last year's mark.

As I gradually get caught up with web page maintenance, the Washington Nationals page is now updated with the team's position players and pitching rotation, new contracts for the 2024 season, win-loss records for the first three months of the baseball season, and the "memorable moments" (thus far) of 2024.

RFK Stadium demolition looms

Elsewhere in Our Nation's Capital, the days of RFK Stadium are fast drawing to a close. The National Park Service announced in early May that the final procedural steps authorizing the demolition of the Nationals' former home have been completed. I assume that means the physical demolition could take place any time this summer. It will be a gradual process, not a sudden implosion, but because of the unique way that the upper deck is suspended (by cables), there will be a very sudden collapse at some point.


July 2, 2024 [LINK / comment]

2024 season is half over!

Yes, sports fans, time really catches up on us sometimes. After a thoroughly exhausting (but rewarding) spring semester of teaching, I am gradually getting caught up with sundry tasks that I had to set aside -- such as this web site! But in the mean time, as you will see below, I also took another one of my big travel adventures, lasting most of the month of June. My apologies for the hiatus of over four months since my last blog post on February 29.

For most teams, Opening Day this year was on Thursday, March 28. For the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres, however, it was on March 20, when Major League Baseball came to the Republic of Korea (South) for the very first time. The two teams split one game apiece, with just under 16,000 in attendance for both games at Gocheok Sky Dome. The games were sellouts, and were very successful from a promotional point of view. In due course, I'll have to do a diagram of that venue.

Nationals rebuild makes progress

The good news is that my favorite team, the Washington Nationals, are doing reasonably well for the most part. They won exactly one game in each of their first three series this year: at Cincinnati, and then at home vs. the Pirates and the Phillies. Since then they have had several ups and downs. Getting swept at home by the L.A. Dodgers (April 23-25) and then losing five games in a row from May 14-19 were discouraging, but on a brighter note they did sweep the Miami Marlins in a four-game road series (April 26-29)!

Lane Thomas spent several weeks on the Injured List, but his return in the series against the Braves in Atlanta (May 27-29)gave the Nationals a big boost of energy. They have won two of three games in the series so far, and will try to win the series this evening. Among the pitchers, Trevor Williams, Mitchell Parker, Jake Irvin, and McKenzie Gore have all done splendidly for the most part, and the latter two just became the first pair of Nationals pitchers to get at least ten strikeouts in consecutive games since September 2019! With a win-loss record consistently approaching .500, holding the third wild card spot in the standings (for whatever that's worth this time of year) the Nats are showing great promise. Until late June at least, a postseason berth seemed like a real possibility!

Things started going wrong for the Nationals in the first game of their series in San Diego, on June 24. It was tied 3-3 after nine innings, and in the top of the tenth the Nats scored 3 runs, thanks to an RBI double by Keibert Ruiz and then a two-run homer by Nick Senzel, one of the new Nationals this year. But in the bottom of the inning, relief pitcher Hunter Harvey gave up two walks and three hits, as the Padres won the game, 7-6. Ouch! The Padres went on to sweep the Nats in three games. Then the Nats flew 2,500+ miles straight east to St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Tampa Bay Rays beat them two games out of three.

On Monday (yesterday) the Nats began a home stand by hosting the New York Mets. McKenzie Gore had another fine outing, pitching 5 2/3 innings, and was in line for the win when he was replaced by Derek Law, who gave up a two-run double as the Mets took the lead. An RBI single by Joey Meneses tied it back up in the eighth inning, but in the top of the tenth Hunter Harvey completely imploded on the mound, giving up six (6) runs! In spite of the hopeless odds, the Nats came storming back in the bottom of the tenth, but fell short. Final score: 9-7. Tonight a similar scenario unfolded: The Nats were ahead 2-1 until the Mets scored a run in the top of the eighth inning against Hunter Harvey. (Why was he pitching???) Then in the top of the tenth the Mets scored five runs off relief pitcher Robert Garcia, thus winning the game, 7-2. frown The Nats' starting pitching has been much better than expected, and closing pitcher Kyle Finnegan is mostly superb, but the Nats' batting is very inconsistent, and -- in spite of their high number of stolen bases -- their base-running is often terrible.

2024 stadium renovations

I will have to update the Progressive Field diagrams to take into account the massive renovations that took place over the 2023-2024 winter season. Thousands of seats from the upper deck along the third base side have been removed and replaced by various party areas, much like what they did in the right field upper deck a few years ago. (Coors Field has undergone similar "shrinkage.")

Also, the two-year renovations at the Toronto Blue Jays’ home at Rogers Centre have been completed. Last year they redid the seating areas in the outfield, and this year they completely rebuilt the lower level. That will be a top-priority diagramming task for me.

In addition, the Washington Nationals have replaced their old (2008) scoreboard at Nationals Park with a new one, and at least one other team did likewise during the off-season. Those changes did not involve any structural elements, however, so my diagrams will not be affected.

2024 College World Series

I was pleased that the University of Virginia Cavalier baseball team made it to the College World Series this year, but unfortunately they did not make it past the first round. I was watching on TV on June 16, when they were eliminated by the Florida State Seminoles. I was only one state away (in South Dakota) that weekend, and thought about perhaps driving down to see the game on the spur of the moment, but the ticket situation was uncertain and it seemed like too big of a risk. Congratulations to Tennessee Volunteers, who edged the Texas A&M Aggies 6-5 in the deciding game on June 24.

One thing I learned while watching that game is that what used to be called "TD Ameritrade Park" (which I visited ten years ago) is now called "Charles Schwab Field." I'll have to update that page soon. It was nine years ago that UVa pulled off an amazing triumph in the 2015 College World Series.

Baseball (?) Road Trip, 2024!

As some of you may recall, last year I took the train(s) out to the Pacific Coast and back, attending MLB games in three stadiums that I had never seen before, taking a tour of another one, inspecting the exterior of a fifth MLB stadium that is currently in use, seeing two former MLB stadiums, and visiting the site where a temporary MLB stadium once stood, and passing two current stadiums while riding on the train. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I made another big trip out west about month ago, but this year, baseball was not really my top priority. Getting together with family members and old friends was at the top of my list. The following montage summarizes the baseball stadiums -- present and past -- that I saw. I was expecting to see the bleachers for the MLB ballpark next door to the ball field where the movie was filmed, but to my utter shock, all I could see was the light towers, dugouts, and a few utility buildings. That entire grandstand is temporary, and has to be moved in and installed every time they plan an MLB game there!

Stadiums_June2024

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Coors Field, in Denver, Colorado; GoMart Ballpark, in Charleston, West Virginia; the former Bush Stadium (converted into apartments about ten years ago), in Indianapolis, Indiana; and the Field of Dreams, near Dyersville, Iowa.

Much like last year, however, I did see a number of prominent and not-so-prominent football stadiums, such as Empower Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos. I was hoping to see the marker for home plate where Mile High Stadium once stood, but that parking lot was closed off.

Football stadiums June 2024

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ohio Stadium (Ohio State Univ.) in Columbus; Nebraska's Big Rodeo Stadium in Burwell; University of Colorado Stadium in Boulder; Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, SD; War Memorial Stadium (Univ. of Wyoming) in Laramie; and Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, CO (home of the Broncos).

Random thoughts

Aside from the games in London mentioned above, there was also an historic first-ever MLB game at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama last week. Coincidentally, this game was played just a few days after Hall of Famer Willie Mays (who once played at Rickwood Field) passed away. Later this summer there will be a baseball game for the second time in rural Iowa, at the Field of Dreams. I'm generally in favor of such special-occasion MLB games, but I think they are getting a little carried away with it. One or two a year ought to be plenty, I think. In any case, it means I've got more diagram work to do!

There has been much important baseball news this spring, but until I have more time, let me just wish retiring umpire Angel Hernandez: adios, amigo!

I'll have something to say about Willie Mays and other legendary baseball greats who have passed away in the last few months.





From October through December, a table of all Postseason game scores is shown here.


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Baseball books:


See Sources for a brief description of the above books. Also see more specialized books on the Ebbets Field, Wrigley Field, and Yankee Stadium pages.





Coming Attractions

General diagrams
to be updated:

General diagrams
yet to be created:

City map/diagrams
yet to be created:
"Site today" diagrams
yet to be created:

(Includes major revisions, minor revisions, pages with additional diagrams, and future stadiums that are under construction. This is only a rough guide; the sequence is subject to change.)


Stadium construction

Soon after the 2017 opening of the new home of the Atlanta Braves (SunTrust Park), construction began on the future home of the Texas Rangers, a very brief lapse. The last significant lapse occurred from March 2012 (when Marlins Park was completed), September 2014 (when construction on SunTrust Park began). Before that, there was at least one major league baseball stadium under construction continually from September 1986 until March 2012. Both the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays hope to get public funding for a new stadium, but near-term prospects are bleak.

NEW! Stadium construction page, with a chronology of the past 30 years.


Research department: