May 23, 2005
The Nationals finally started hitting in Toronto yesterday, scoring more runs (9) than they had in the five previous games combined. So, they pulled back into third place and maintained their record of not yet being swept in any 3 or 4 game series. José Guillen is back in the lineup, but José Vidro's ankle may not heal for another six weeks. Now the Nationals head to Cincinnati, where general manager Jim Bowden used to work. The Nats acquired Marlon Byrd from Philadelphia in exchange for the disgruntled Endy Chavez last week, and the results thus far are encouraging. Byrd got off to a good start in his first game with the Nats, hitting three RBIs. He started in left field but is now subbing for centerfielder Brad Wilkerson, who has a strained tendon in his arm.
Among the other series between cross-town or regional rivals, there were only two sweeps, by the Rangers against the visiting Astros, and by the Marlins aganst the visiting Devil Rays. The Mets embarrassed Randy Johnson at his nationally-televised debut as a Yankee on Saturday, and the Yanks barely averted being shut out by scoring a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Attendance was near capacity in the games at New York (Shea), Boston, L.A., and Chicago (Wrigley), and over 40,000 paid to see the games in Arlington and Seattle. No doubt about it, interleague play is a big success.
While we're on the subject of interleague games, let me offer another suggestion. Ever since the Brewers were moved to the National League in 1998, apparently to facilitate the intended contraction that would have eliminated the Minnesota Twins and the Montreal Expos, there has been an imbalance that creates awkward scheduling problems. I was dubious about having the Brewers change leagues, but apparently Milwaukee fans approve of it, and it does create a natural regional interleague rivalry with the Twins. One option to restore the balance between the leagues would be to move the Pirates to the American League, creating a cross-state interleague rivalry with the Phillies, but that would leave the National League without any teams in that part of the country. Also, the Pirates have a long historical bond with the National League, and traditionalists would scream bloody murder. Another option, which I favor, would be to move the Diamondbacks to the American League. With less than a decade of franchise history, that would be much less disruptive, and it would create a good interleague rivalry with the Padres. The Astros would move to the NL West division, so that all six major league divisions would again have five teams. The other non-obvious interleague rivalries would be Mariners-Rockies, Tigers-Braves, Phillies-Red Sox, and Blue Jays-Pirates. Finally, because I lean strongly toward the traditionalist side, I think the number of interleague games should be cut back, with only two three-game series other than the two series with the cross-town/regional rival.
The diagrams on the Bank One Ballpark, Dodger Stadium, and PETCO Park pages have been tweaked, and those on the Rogers Centre page have been rotated, to conform to the new standard with home plate at a common coordinate, for better comparison. Those diagrams were already upgraded in terms of appearance, with warning tracks and an orientation compass, and were thus easy to redo. A major upgrade of the Shea Stadium page is "on deck."
From T. J. Zmina comes another link to a satellite photo, in this case two photos, of Turner Field and the old stadium that used to stand next door, at terraserver.microsoft.com. Also, there is a fine new panoramic photo on the Fenway Park page, taken by Leon Spath on a recent trip to Boston. Thanks, Leon!