December 29, 2012 [LINK / comment]

No deal yet with LaRoche

The negotiations with Adam LaRoche are still dragging on, with the only sticking point being the length of a new contract. The fact that neither the Boston Red Sox nor the Texas Rangers (two likely alternative teams) have offered him more than a two-year contract might suggest that the Nationals' front office has more bargaining leverage. As Matt Snyder writes at, "The Nationals should let Adam LaRoche walk." I tend to agree, but that's partly because I'm a bigger fan of Michael Morse, who would likely get squeezed aside if LaRoche returns to first base in Washington. That article notes that the Red Sox are negotiating a three-year deal with Mike Napoli, but have yet to finalize the terms.

College bowl games

Today there were two games played in major league baseball stadiums: the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, at New Yankee Stadium, and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park. In the former game, played in the middle of a snow storm in The Bronx, Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14. I noticed they didn't have the temporary bleachers along the sidelines (in what would be the left and right field corners) as they did in past years. And in the latter game, played in San Francisco, Arizona State beat Navy, 62-28. Ouch!

Also, a there was another bowl game today that used to be played in a baseball stadium: the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which had been known as the Insight Bowl.* From 2001 to 2005 it was played in Phoenix's Bank One Ballpark, which is now called Chase Field. Then the event relocated to Sun Devil Stadium in nearby Tempe, Arizona. The same organization that manages the Fiesta Bowl runs this bowl, hence the event Web site under the domain name of the other event: (My blog post from December 2008 discussed this and other college bowl games played in baseball stadiums.)

* It's almost as if they are trying to make all those miscellaneous also-ran bowl games seem even more ridiculous by giving them goofy names.

And earlier this week, the Military Bowl was held in RFK Stadium in Our Nation's Capital. San Jose State beat Bowling Green, 29-20. For all the scores, see ESPN.

Chase Field update

All those bowl games got me thinking about revising the Chase Field Chase Field diagrams, even though it's no longer used for football. It was a fairly easy job, and very little changed other than including the entry portals and handicapped balconies in the upper deck. Note that the Web link which was formerly on that page is dead, and probably has been for years.

Many other diagram revisions are in the works, some coming sooner than you might expect... And believe me, some of them were not easy at all!

Hideki Matsui retires

Bulky slugger Hideki Matsui, who joined the great migration of Japanese baseball superstars to the United States a decade ago, has announced that he is retiring. After playing with the Yankees from 2003 to 2009, he played for the Angels, Athletics, and Rays. He had 175 home runs and a batting average of .282 in his U.S. career. Including the 332 home runs he hit in Japan, his aggregate career home run total would be 507. See For most of his years with the Yankees, he never really met the expectations, but he went out with a bang in November 2009, batting in six runs in World Series Game Six to tie a World Series record, helping the Yankees win another world championship. For that achievement he was named the 2009 World Series MVP.

I was fortunate to take a photo of Matsui hitting an RBI single in a game at Nationals Park last June.

The mail bag

Marc Gilbert proved to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the outfield configuration at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin/Landshark/Sunlife Stadium was essentially the same when the Marlins first played there in 1993 as when they left it at the end of 2011. I was previously under the impression that the center field fence originally cut straight across, with no irregularities, and that there were more temporary baseball-only seats along both the first and third base side than in later years. But, Marc writes, "the '434' notch was there on opening day, 1993. I remember it distinctly. The game was televised here in L.A. and I was a stadium junkie even then and thought how cool it was." You can see for yourself the first pitch, thrown by Charlie Hough. I wonder how many people in that crowd could have guessed that the Marlins would win the World Series just four years later?

So, I'm going to relabel the early version of that diagram "1990" rather than "1993," even though I'm not certain when the photo in the book Diamonds by Michael Gershman was taken. It could have been as early as 1988, which was the first time an exhibition baseball game was played there.

I should mention, if I haven't before, that I too was intrigued by the novel way Joe Robbie Stadium was modified for baseball use, and that -- along with the advent of Camden Yards and other "retro" ballparks in the 1990s-- was part of what stirred my long-dormant interest in baseball stadium design.