November 1, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Ryan Zimmerman gets surgery
Ryan Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder a few days ago, and all seems to have gone well. His recovery is expected to take about six weeks, so he should be 100% ready for Spring Training next year. He was put on the 15-day disabled list in April, and just wasn't doing well at the plate until he had a cortisone shot in early July, and three more in the months after that. See MLB.com. (That article also mentioned that reserve player Chad Tracy had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee; he had his share of big clutch hits this year.)
Because of various injuries this year, the Nationals didn't have their core sluggers all in the lineup until late in the season. But if Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, and (option pending) Adam LaRoche can all stay healthy next year, the Nationals should be considered favorites to win the NL Eastern Division title for a second year in a row.
Aggregate wins & losses
This may come as a surprise, after the rude shock of October 12 (NLDS Game 5), but I was kind of hoping the Cardinals would beat the Giants in the NLCS. Why? Because, given that the Tigers won the ALCS, that would have meant that the Washington Nationals (who won more regular season games than anyone else) would have ended the year with the most number of aggregate wins [...], i.e., combining the regular season and postseason win-loss records. ( 98 + 2 = 100 ) Is that an official statistic? Probably not, but it would have been a nice consolation prize at least. As you can see, the Nationals came in second in terms of aggregate wins, behind the San Francisco Giants. The Nationals can nevertheless claim the highest aggregate winning percentage: .599, with the Cincinnati Reds in second place, and the Giants in third.
2012 MLB postseason teams
||Regular season Wins
||Regular season Losses
| San Francisco Giants
| Washington Nationals
| Cincinnati Reds
| New York Yankees
| Oakland Athletics
| Baltimore Orioles
| Detroit Tigers
| Atlanta Braves
| St. Louis Cardinals
| Texas Rangers
No November baseball!
UPDATE: According to our weekly TV schedule, there is supposed to be a baseball game tonight -- if necessary. It's just as well that it's all over and done with for the year; baseball in November is just plain weird. (Indeed, we've already got snow along the top of the Blue Ridge.) If the Tigers had somehow regrouped after losing the first three and taken the World Series all the way to Game 7, it would have been the first time in history that such a comeback had been staged. The Yankees came back with four straight wins after losing the first two games both against the Braves in the 1996 World Series and against the Dodgers in 1978, and the Dodgers did likewise against the Yankees in 1981. There were also four World Series in which a team lost Game 1 and then came back with four straight wins: 1915 (Red Sox over the Phillies), 1942 (Cardinals over the Yankees), 1969 (Mets over the Orioles), and 1983 (Orioles over the Phillies).
November 3, 2012 [LINK / comment]
2012 Golden Glove Awards
The 2012 Golden Glove Awards were announced this week, and Adam LaRoche was the second Washington Nationals player in team history (since 2005) to earn that honor. (Ryan Zimmerman did so in 2009.) LaRoche led "all National League first basemen in fielding percentage (.995), games started (149) and innings (1,323 1/3)." No doubt about it. See MLB.com. The other Golden Glove nominee for the Nats, shortstop Ian Desmond, was edged out by Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies. (I predicted on Sept. 12 that Desmond was "almost guaranteed a Silver Slugger award for that position, if not a Golden Glove.") No National League team had more than one Golden Glove recipient this year.
On the American League side, in contrast, three Baltimore Orioles players won a Golden Glove: Matt Wieters (catcher), J.J. Hardy (shortstop), and Adam Jones (center field). That is indeed an astonishing testament to the depth of their team, which will probably be a pennant contender next year. Someone wrote a letter to the Washington Post complaining about the newspaper's failure to report the accomplishment. The Yankees had two Golden Glovers: Mark Teixeira (first base) and Robinson Cano (second base).
LaRoche is a free agent
Adam LaRoche passed on the mutual option under his contract with the Nationals, thus declaring himself to be free agent. The Nationals made him a "qualifying offer" of $13.3 million, and I hope it's an offer he doesn't refuse. (Notably, they did not make such an offer to starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, another free agent.) LaRoche led the Nationals in home runs (33) and RBIs (100) this year, but lagged behind in batting average (.271). The Washington Nationals page now shows batting records for the usual position players and pitching records for the starting rotation and closers for the 2012 season. I plan to include such records for each year from 2005 to 2011 some time in the near future.
PETCO Park update
The PETCO Park diagram has been updated with the new (as of 2013) outfield fences with reduced dimensions, especially in right field. Construction work has already begun, so I figured why not? The diagram shows an interesting aspect of the grandstand roof that is similar to Progressive Field: The forward portion of it consists of bare structural beams, apparently designed to accommodate an extension of temporary awnings for more shade.
Franchises page update
The MLB Franchises page has been updated. It has revised U.S.A. maps, various updated information, and shows that the Houston Astros are moving to the American League next year. It also indicates that 2012 was the Washington Nationals' first postseason, with seven years lapsed since the relocation (2005).
November 3, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Another "shellacking" for Obama?
In the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections two years ago, President Obama admitted he had been "shellacked." I don't think the results this time will be quite that decisive, but almost anything is possible. With the demographic shifts and changes in telephone technology, which calls into question traditional survey sampling methods, the poll numbers are especially vulnerable to measurement error this election cycle. I'm cautiously optimistic that Romney will at least make a good showing in most of the swing states, and I don't totally discount the predictions by some Republicans that a subterranean anti-Obama "tsunami" is about to emerge, but I'm preparing for the worst-case scenario just in case.
One sign of hope for Romney is that the Des Moines Register has endorsed him for president, the first Republican that paper has endorsed in over a generation. Iowa is one of the swing states that may be decisive in deciding who will win the election. That editorial endorsement elicited a barrage of angry letters from readers and others. There is something about the extreme bitter attitudes among many Democrats ("Romney's a liar!") that makes me suspect that they realize that things aren't going their way...
I was a bit surprised to learn that former South Dakota Senator Larry Pressler (a Republican) has endorsed Barack Obama for reelection. He's relatively moderate, so it wasn't a total shock. Same thing goes for Colin Powell, a man I strongly respect but happen to disagree with as far as Obama. I was practically dumbfounded to learn that Pressler made a visit here in Staunton on Friday; see newsleader.com. Like George McGovern, Pressler is an old friend of my father and it would have been nice to chat. The Democrats have a very prominent headquarters in a rented storefront on Beverley Street downtown, and they seem determined to keep Staunton moving in a "blue" direction, as it has been for the past several years.
On the other hand, the nation's first black governor, Douglas Wilder, has decided not to endorse the nation's first black president; see timesdispatch.com. Wilder is known as a fiercely independent man with a chip or two on his shoulder, so it's not as strange as one might think.
Anti-Obama signs next to a corn field near Riverheads High School, on Wednesday afternoon. The fine print says "Paid for by the Tri-Cities Tea Party - 912."
Can Allen catch up to Kaine?
Nearly all polls indicate that Tim Kaine has a lead of at least a few points over George Allen. According to Friday's Richmond Times Dispatch, "The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News survey released Wednesday shows Kaine leading Allen 50 percent to 46 percent." In the end, it will come down to whether Mitt Romney can win Virginia, and pull George Allen across the finish line on his partisan "coat tails." Allen has hit Kaine hard on the issue of using coal as an energy source (which Obama and most Democrats oppose) and on the issue of military spending, since thousands of jobs in Virginia, especially the area around Norfolk, depend on Navy and Defense Department contracts. Compared to his failed run for reelection six years ago, Allen has run a more sophisticate, mostly positive campaign that at least puts him within range of Kaine, who has higher favorability ratings, i.e., friendlier press coverage.
Allen made a campaign stop in Staunton on Friday, but regrettably I wasn't able to get there.
Are Kaine's TV ads misleading?
One of Kaine's more effective campaign tools has been a TV ad that has run on many stations across Virginia, sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It features a mature, well-spoken man who says "I count on Social Security and and I don't want Washington politicians like George Allen privatizing it." Frankly, I was never fond of proposals to privatize Social Security, which the Bush administration tried to push early in 2005. Well, it turns out that the person in that ad is not just some average Joe who really needs those Social Security checks, he's actually a highly paid trial lawyer who has long been active in Democratic politics: Edwin Williams. See washingtonexaminer.com; from Mike Thomas, who works on the Allen campaign.
Tim Kaine being deceptive? He's such a swell guy, so how can that be?? Well it happened before, seven years ago in fact. My blog post from November 2005 shows an image of the offending campign mailer that I received, showing a big GOP elephant icon and falsely implying that it came from a conservative activist group. If you squint at the fine print, it says "This mailing was authorized and paid for by Kaine for Governor." It's about as bogus as you can get in campaign hijinks without going to jail.
November 4, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Is Obama a Gramscian?
By now it is fairly well established that Barack Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen, not a Kenyan or an Indonesian. Aside from Donald Trump or Glenn Beck, not many mainstream political figures would question that. But might the President be a closet Gramscian? During the Tea Party Convention in February 2010, I rolled my eyes when World Net Daily's Joseph Farah kept talking about Obama's lack of a birth certificate as he introduced Sarah Palin to the National Tea Party Convention. Birthers, again... But then he brought up Italian political philosopher Antonio Gramsci, and my eyes lit up.
Most Americans probably don't care whether Obama ever came under Gramscian influences, but it's more than an idle intellectual question. Gramsci was an Italian socialist philosopher who was imprisoned by the Mussolini fascist regime in the 1920s. His main contribution to left-wing political activism was the strategy of undermining the cultural hegemony of the bourgeoisie, gradually weakening the cultural foundations of social order, as opposed to taking direct physical action against police authorities, etc. In graduate school at U.Va., I kept coming across references to Gramsci, and finally did some reading of his Prison Notebooks, which summarizes much of his thought. He positively despised Lockean liberal values, and the whole idea of constitutionally limited powers:
... the entire liberal ideology, with its strengths and weaknesses, can be encapsulated in the principle of the separation of power... (p. 245-246)
Individualism is merely brutish apoliticism, lacking the party spirit that is the fundamental component of State spirit. (p. 147)
On the other hand, his value judgment is solidly aligned with leftist-statist philosophy: A state is ethical, he believed, to the extent it functions to raise the masses to a cultural level. The State as 'nightwatchman' or gendarme is the opposite of "ethical," in his view. Gramsci regarded Prohibition as an attempt by U.S. industries to discipline the work force, "Fordizing" labor to prolong profits even in high-wage industries. That was a theme I came across quite often during my graduate studies.
One can find some echoes of Gramsci in some of Obama's rhetoric, and certainly in his lack of regard for constitutional restraints on power. In March 2009, Herbert London wrote about this connection at humanevents.com: "Obama's Ideological Father." Obama himself is playing it very cool, promoting the idea that he is first and foremost a pragmatist, and of course there's a lot of truth in that. But what else could a leader who is committed to "transforming" our nation do in a country with such a strong conservative element? Some of Obama's closest current and former advisers, such as Van Johnson (the erstwhile czar) and Valerie Jarrett, likewise evince an affinity for that sort of cryptic radical politics.
White House analysts know that Valerie Jarrett plays a key role in policy making, but there are signs she exercises a virtual veto power on a wide variety of areas. If so, that is a strange way to run the Executive Branch. Read "Obama's Strange Dependence on Valerie Jarrett," by Karin McQuillan at americanthinker.com. It was published in August. Jarrett is a fascinating person who, like Obama, spent her formative years in a Muslim country, Iran. Her father was a leading physician and geneticist, and she has strong social connections with the African-American elites in Chicago, which is where she met the Obamas. More recently, Jarrett was quoted issuing a thinly-veiled threat/boast: "After We Win This Election, It's Our Turn. Payback Time." See theulstermanreport.com. Hopefully, we'll never find out how determined the Obama White House was to transform America.
November 5, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Election Day 2012: America prepares to vote
Nearly everyone is relieved that the marathon ordeal of campaign 2012 (which actually began in 2010) is just about over. What they don't realize is that campaign 2014 will begin within a few days after all the results from this election are compiled and analyzed.
Most of the national polls show it's a virtual dead heat between Romney and Obama. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert ran clips of at least half a dozen TV pundits who repeated the cliche "razor tight." The challenger's momentum seemed to falter in the last week of the campaign, perhaps due to Hurricane Sandy and President Obama's efforts to deal with the disaster. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie caught flak for praising the President too effusively. The storm put the Romney campaign in an awkward position, not knowing whether to make speeches or do some kind of fund-raising relief program.
The map below is my prediction: 276 electoral votes for Obama and 262 for Romney. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Romney ends up with a bigger share of the popular vote nationwide, which I suppose would be poetic justice from the perspective of Democrats who still can't get over the 2000 election. I'm erring on the optimistic side (pro-Romney) in Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Colorado. Bear in mind that there is a wide margin for error between what the polls indicate and the actual vote count, and it is entirely possible that an undetected surge of Romney voters will carry him to victory in several key midwestern states. But based on what I have read, Romney needs to make up at least more three percentage points to win in Ohio. Without Ohio, I don't think Romney can make it.
My forecast of the 2012 presidential election; roll your mouse over the image to see the Washington Post's latest assessment of the race in the 50 states.
Britain's The Economist magazine expressed in very apt terms the thinking of independent moderates: "America could do better than Barack Obama. Sadly, Mitt Romney doesn't fit the bill." The editorial went on to bemoan: "Indeed, the extremism of his party is Mr Romney's greatest handicap." They conclude that it is better to stick with the devil you know than take a chance on the devil you don't know.
From my personal point of view, I am dismayed that so many Americans accept at face value Obama's bland assurances that things are getting better. I don't think he has much of an idea what is needed to fix this economy, and anyone in the White House who does have such an idea apparently isn't being listened to. If the President is in fact reelected, it won't be the end of freedom as we know it, contrary to what some right-wingers claim. I think it will mean, however, a resumption toward a long-term erosion of our culture of freedom and individual responsibility. We are already so far along that "road to perdition" that many people have already lost any sense of what freedom is really about.
Economic policy: Dubya II?
I think Romney's biggest mistake was his failure to clearly differentiate himself from the last Republican President, George W. Bush. The question came up in the second debate, and he let the opportunity pass by. I would like to think that he has learned from the Bush Jr. administration that basing economic policy on no-tax pledges (Grover Norquist) and rosy forecasts of growth (supply-siders) is a recipe for failure. But voters could be forgiven for being skeptical, however. Here is a comment on a Facebook post by Bruce Bartlett along those lines:
One thing is for sure: If Romney loses, all those people who backed Bush's candidacy in 2000 and later hounded out of the party anyone they considered to be "disloyal" will be very busy rewriting recent Republican Party history. The fact that Romney has failed to clearly distinguish his agenda from that of Dubya is a discouraging sign that most people in the GOP have not really absorbed the lessons of the 2001-2008 period.
What about the 2016 election? Bruce Bartlett asked what qualities a sane, relatively moderate Republican candidate would need in order to win the GOP primaries, and I suggested:
Back to Bruce's original query, I think a viable 2016 GOP candidate needs to establish credentials as a serious policy-focused LEADER. To do that, he or she would need to minimize the usual closed-door suck-up sessions with wealthy donors and maximize public discussions in relatively neutral venues. Perhaps even on university campuses!
Foreign policy: "No, we can't?"
Four years ago, Barack Obama was a complete novice with regard to foreign policy, and it was a big joke when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without having done anything to deserve it. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and the incumbent chief executive gets the benefit of the doubt. ("General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead.") In the third presidential debate, Mitt Romney tried to adopt a tough stance, appealing to Jewish voters and others who strongly support Israel. It wasn't entirely convincing, and Romney's close ties to the Neoconservatives who were prominent in the Bush II administration (see above) raise further doubts in my mind.
This in turn raises a broader issue. A few months ago, Bruce Bartlett called attention on Facebook to the declining number of Republican leaders with foreign policy solid credentials. For example, long-time Indiana Senator Dick Lugar was ousted in the GOP primary election last spring, which means one less pragmatic, national-security-conscious senator.* foreignpolicy.com My response to that article:
The article makes a very good point, lamenting the passage of realist-pragmatists such as Sen. Lugar, but I see no indication that Romney is of the simplistic "by jingo!" mindset. Foreign policy is obviously a lower priority this year, in part (ironically) because Obama continued most elements of the Bush foreign policy, as new presidents usually do. Foreign policy is inherently too complex for most people to understand, and therefore not suitable for debate in polarized democracies, so it's just as well that Romney doesn't make a big deal about it.
* I should note that the winner of that primary, Richard Mourdock, is facing an uphill battle, and it's quite possible the Republicans will lose that Senate seat. If so, prospects for getting a GOP majority in the Senate, so as to repeal Obamacare, will drop to almost zero. Mourdock was a Tea Party-endorsed candidate and recently created a stir by saying that if a woman gets pregnant as the result of rape, it must be God's will. See cbsnews.com. I think the lessons from Indiana ought to be obvious to everyone. Same goes for Missouri, where Todd Akin's incomprehensible gaffe about rape not causing pregnancy squandered what should have been an easy chance to unseat incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Fast & Furious scandal
Relative to some of Obama's other scandals, such as the Benghazi terrorist attack, or the wasted millions of dollars on the Solyndra "green energy" company, Operation Fast and Furious hasn't seemed to catch on in the American news media. It did get the notice of Spanish-language journalists, however, and Univision reporter Jorge Ramos really put the heat on President Obama back in September, asking whether Attorney General Eric Holder should be fired. Obama tried to dodge the question by falsely claiming that Fast and Furious had started under the Bush Administration. In reality, Fast and Furious was initiated in September 2009 and was carried out starting in October 2009, well into President Obama's first term. (How does he get away with that stuff?) You can read extended transcripts of the Univision interview at townhall.com.
Sebelius vs. the Hatch Act
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law when she appeared at an event to promote President Obama's re-election Charlotte, N.C., on February 25, 2012. She was acting in her official capacity as a Cabinet official when making the keynote speech in support of rights for lesbians, gays, etc. Some of her remarks were quite political, and she urged the audience, "it's hugely important to make sure that we re-elect the president and elect a Democratic governor here in North Carolina." Under the Hatch Act of 1939, which was passed to thwart FDR's attempt to use civil servants to promote his governing agenda, Federal employees and officials cannot take an active role in political campaigns, or else we would end up with a hyper-politicized government like they have in Venezuela. See the washingtonexaminer.com.
Excess presidential power
Finally, here is my response to Cindy Corell's upbeat call on Facebook on people of both parties to leave behind their partisanship after the election, here is my general observation about the reasons why presidential campaigns are getting fiercer and more vicious every election cycle:
The guy in the White House, regardless of party, has way too much power, which is one reason why modern presidential elections are turning into apocalyptic battles between "good" and "evil." I fully appreciate your sentiments, but whoever wins will face bitter distrust and opposition from the losing party. If we abided more faithfully by the Constitution, it wouldn't be that way.
November 7, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Decision 2012: Obama wins by a clear margin
It was supposed to be a down-to-the-wire cliffhanger, but in the end, "Decision 2012" left little doubt about who had won. About 11:15 EST, the TV networks announced that Ohio was projected to go for Obama, giving the President a majority of the 538 total electoral votes. There remained some doubt for a while, but shortly after midnight, Mitt Romney made a brief and very gracious concession speech. That was an appropriate first step toward healing this deeply divided nation, but it's going to take a lot more reciprocal action by both sides in the weeks and months to come.
Pending recounts in Florida* (of course), President Barack Obama won 332 electoral votes, to 206 for Mitt Romney. At last count (late Wednesday evening) Obama had won 60,653,724 popular votes (50.4%), and Mitt Romney had won 57,813,403 popular votes (48.0%).
So what went wrong? Romney had the momentum on his side after the first debate one month ago, and I was happy to be present at a big rally here in the Shenandoah Valley. But the next two debates were either tied or won by Obama, and Romney seemed to lose his mojo. Hurricane Sandy last week gave the President a perfect opportunity to look presidential, and that may have tipped a few thousand voters in his direction. But none of those factors can really explain the major shift toward Obama in the last few days. Romney could not bridge the gap of distrust, and therefore could not "close the deal" with voters. On a personal level, he is sometimes rather stiff, but he is also sincere. Inquiring into the Broader Reasons for Romney's loss will be a task for another day. For now, suffice it to say that problems in his party rank high among the challenges he had to overcome.
One of the biggest shocks from yesterday was Obama's sizeable margin of victory in the Old Dominion: 50.8% to 47.8%, or a difference of nearly 100,000 votes. Virginia was supposed to be either a dead heat or leaning toward Romney. One Facebook friend (who shall remain nameless) said that it was a big failure by Governor Bob McDonnell to get out the vote in his state. Perhaps so; McDonnell was not very visible during the campaign, other than a couple big appearances with Romney.
* Obama has a lead of about 47,000 votes in Florida, or 0.6%. Not much chance the outcome will change.
Results of the 2012 presidential election, with states that had large victory margins colored in dark shades; roll your mouse over the image to compare it to my forecast.
Erring on the optimistic side in my own election forecast, I put five Obama states in the Romney column: Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida. They accounted for 61 electoral votes. Perhaps more significantly, they also pushed Obama over the 25-state threshhold, so that he has a majority of states, as well as a majority of people on his side.
As for who made the best predictions, Slate had a Pundit Scorecard, which made most of the conservatives or Republicans look pretty bad. Even George Will missed it by over 100 electoral votes. Among the most accurate prognosticators were Nate Silver (who was at the center of a controversy last week) and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. Here in Virginia, blogger Shaun Kenney predicted Romney 270, Obama 268.
I demand a recount!
In my election forecast on Monday, I made mistake in the spreadsheet. I predicted "276 electoral votes for Obama and 262 for Romney," but based on the states that I picked, it would actually have been 271 electoral votes for Obama and 267 for Romney. So I edited the forecast map to reflect the correction.
In an normal business or government organization, a failure of this great magnitude would cause heads to roll at the upper level. In the Grand Old Party of today, however, the head honchos are comfortably ensconced and unlikely to budge an inch without a ferocious protest from within the ranks. Since I am no longer within the ranks, however, my opinion on the Republican Party doesn't necessarily count for much. The problems, and the origins thereof, are obvious enough to anyone on the outside who pays even a little bit of attention. There will be plenty of time for recriminations later on...
Some Facebook posts
My initial reaction to the news from Ohio:
Decision 2012 is over and done with. The President will now have "more flexibility" in his second term. Why am I not comforted by that thought?
In response to the article "The Right Will Draw the Wrong Conclusions from an Obama Victory" at rightwingnuthouse.com, I wrote:
I have made several of those points in my own blog recently. Good quote: "the takeover of the Republican party by the hard right has meant that the very concept of conservatism has been corrupted beyond recognition." Sensible voters can tell there is something rotten behind the stale partisan rhetoric on the right. (And on the left.) As the author says, anyone who concludes that what the GOP needs in 2016 is a "true conservative" candidate is utterly deluded about what has gone wrong in the party.
You never know how people will react to political humor, or attempts thereat. For example, today I wrote on Facebook, linking to the fictitious "George W. Obama" character:
Eight more years of budget-busting entitlements, soaring debt, and war! We get what we deserve.
Someone thought I sounded bitter, even though I was pinning equal blame for the trouble on the Republican side. (Hence, eight more years, rather than four more years -- the point being that, in several ways, Obama isn't much different from his predecessor.) Touchy feelings! On the other hand, I have come across all sorts of nasty, vicious Facebook posts from folks on the left who are gloating over Obama's win, and not at all shy about expressing it. It is not the finest moment for upholding standards of civil discouse, I'm afraid.
Finally, from late this afternoon:
I punished myself by listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for a while this afternoon. Sometimes I get a kick out of Rush's acid wit, but today was just excruciating.
Final fact check of 2012
In the closing days of Campaign 2012, factcheck.org put out "Whoppers of 2012, Final Edition." Some of them are pretty bad, on both sides, but now that the campaign is over, everyone will probably forget. Hat tip to Connie.
Another Web site is kaput
Just for the record, the Augusta County Republicans Web site, which I used to run, has finally vanished from cyberspace. At the request of local Republican elected officials, I created a campaign Web site for them in September 2007, during a period of intra-party tumult. It went into inactive "hibernation" in the summer of 2008, and I transferred control of it to the Augusta County Republican Committee in September 2010. I was led to believe that the Web site would be rebuilt "under new management," so to speak, but it was nothing more than a blank page ("New Web site host") for the next two years. And thus ends another (minor) chapter in the never-ending "SWAC Saga."
November 12, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Bryce Harper: Rookie of the Year!
Bryce Harper was named the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He beat Arizona Diamondbacks rookie pitcher Wade Miley by seven points, 112-105. Harper had a .270 batting average, with 22 home runs, and 59 RBIs. He led all NL rookies in several categories, including OPS (.817), game-winning RBI (12) and extra-base hits (57). At 19 years of age, he was the youngest position player ever named to the All-Star Game. See MLB.com. But beyond all those numbers, you have to consider the huge impact he had on raising the excitement level of the Nationals players and fans. There is little question that he played a major role in helping the Nationals to win their first division title. He was the veritable epitome of "Natitude"!
Harper was called up to the majors in late April, an emergency situation in which two Nats outfielder-sluggers -- Jayson Werth and Michael Morse -- were both on the disabled list. At the time, many thought it was a bit premature for a teenager, but he quickly dispelled doubts. After a torrid first two months in the batters box, galvanizing the injury-plagued Nationals (see May 4), he slumped in mid-season. But then in late August he got hot again, providing the decisive offensive firepower that kept the Nats ahead of the Braves in that ferocious division race. He was poor hitting poorly in the National League Divisional Series, but snapped out of it in dramatic fashion in Game 5, hitting a triple and a home run. In the end, however, those big hits proved not to be enough.
Congratulations on a GREAT rookie year, Bryce!
Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann, and their team mates celebrating the Nats' big comeback extra-inning victory against the Miami Marlins on September 8.
2012 Silver Slugger awards
Three Washington Nationals players were recognized for their batting prowess with the "Silver Slugger" Award: shortstop Ian Desmond (.292 batting average, 25 homers, 73 RBIs), first baseman Adam LaRoche (.270, 33 home runs, 100 RBIs), and pitcher Stephen Strasburg (.277 batting average, one home run and 7 RBIs). The Nationals were the only team to win three such awards. "LaRoche is one of only four big leaguers -- Robinson Cano, Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen -- to win both a Silver Slugger, presented by Louisville Slugger, and a Gold Glove this postseason." See MLB.com. In a related news item, LaRoche turned down the Nationals' qualifying offer of $13.3 million, thus becoming a free agent, but there is still a very good chance he will reach a deal and return to Washington next year. If not, Michael Morse can move back to first base again.
Batting averages and ERAs going all the way back to 2005 can now be seen on the Washington Nationals page. It was a rather painful exercise, going back through the MLB.com historical records and reminding myself just how mediocre the Nationals were for their first few years in D.C. For example, in 2006 Jose Guillen batted .216, and in 2008 Austin Kearns batted .217. They were both supposed to be pretty good. A few more tweaks and enhancements lie ahead on that page.
Davey Johnson's last year?
As expected, negotiations between the Nationals front office and Davey Johnson bore fruit, and he will manage the team for one more year and then retire. As of 2014, he will become a team consultant, which is what he was before he replaced Jim Riggleman in mid-2011. Johnson will celebrate his 70th birthday in January, so it's understandable that he might not want to remain a major league manager for much longer. He and Billy Martin are the only managers to take four different teams to the postseason. In his statement, Johnson said "As everyone knows, we have some unfinished business to tend to in '13. I have a feeling this upcoming season will be filled with many memorable moments." See MLB.com.
So, what would have happened if the Nationals had gone all the way last month? Would Johnson have "pulled a LaRussa," as he is rumored to have said?
R.I.P. Eddie Yost
Former Washington Senators third baseman Eddie Yost passed away last month at the age of 86. He became famous for leading the American League in walks six times during his 18-year career. ("Good eye!") He joined the Senators in 1944, served in the U.S. Navy in 1945, and played 13 years in Washington altogether. He later played for the Tigers, and on Opening Day 1961, he was the first-ever batter for the Los Angeles Angels expansion club. He retired with a .254 lifetime batting average. I remember seeing Yost's name on the "Ring of Stars" at RFK Stadium, but was not otherwise aware of his career accomplishments. See MLB.com.
The mail bag
Now that the World Series and that election last week are over, I can start to get caught up with correspondence and other tasks again. Among the many items brought to my attention by Mike Zurawski, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has been busy negotiating the issue of the San Francisco Giants territorial rights, to see whether the Oakland Athletics will be able to relocate to San Jose, where build a new ballpark is being planned. See ESPN. Talk, talk, talk. Of course, we Washington-region baseball fans heard the "be patient" refrain many, many times before real action on relocation was finally taken.
Mark Binder wrote to tell me that some of the shady financial hijinks behind the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington were repeated at nearby Cowboys Stadium, which replaced Texas Stadium in Dallas two years ago. That was news to me, but hardly a surprise that pro football would be just as susceptible to "stadium socialism" (or crony capitalism) as major league baseball.
Both Mark London and Terry Wallace asked me last month if I had heard about the upcoming changes at PETCO Park, which indeed I had. (Hence the diagram update.) Terry referred me to a cbssports.com story that has a great photo. I'm still not sure, however, whether they are going to add more seats in right field, where the outfield fence is being brought in by 10-15 feet.
Finally, I got a nice note from Glenn Simpkins asking if Hurricane Sandy caused any major damage in our area of Virginia. Thankfully, not. His message did remind me, however, that he had asked me several months ago about doing a soccer version of AT&T Park, since there was a soccer double-header there in March, which I mentioned in June. Since the Giants are the World Champions, I figured their stadium deserved priority attention. Done!
Several more e-mail messages to get to, however...
November 12, 2012 [LINK / comment]
U.S. Congress to remain divided (and stalemated?)
Public opinion polls consistently show that the American people have a very low opinion of Congress as an institution, and are disgusted with partisan gridlock. Nevertheless, they returned to office a very high proportion of incumbent legislators, as is usually the case. Massive cognitive dissonance? That could be part of it, but a bigger reason is the artificial constraints on voter choice imposed by our semi-institutionalized two-party system.
And so, it appears very likely that very little will be accomplished in Washington after the new Congress convenes. There is a good chance that the current lame duck Congress will come up with some kind of compromise to prevent the "fiscal cliff" doomsday scenario from coming about on January 1. But after the new members are sworn in, all bets are off. Another two-year round of partisan warfare is very likely -- fiddling while Rome burns.
The Senate: Democrats gain two
At least two of the Republican defeats in Senate races can be traced to the Tea Party effect. Indiana's Richard Mourdock, who defeated incumbent Senator Dick Lugar last spring (quite tragic, I thought), lost to Democrat John Donnelly, by a margin of about five points. In Missouri, meanwhile, Todd Akin lost his bid to unseat Claire McCaskill. In both cases, the GOP candidates were undone by foolish comments about rape and pregnancy that symbolized the Republicans' regression into 19th-Century thinking about such sensitive matters of social policy. In 2010 it was Sharron Angle (who lost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) and Christine O'Donnell, in Delaware. I'd venture to say that without the Tea Party, the Republicans just might have a majority in the Senate. Here are the newly-elected senators in the 113th Congress:
|New Republican senators
||New Democratic senators
|Ted Cruz (TX)
||H Heitkamp (ND)
|Jeff Flake (AZ)
||Tammy Baldwin (WI)
|Deb Fischer (NE)
||M Heinrich (DE)
denotes change of party control.)
|Tim Kaine (VA)
|J Donnelly (IN)
|Elizabeth Warren (MA)
|C Murphy (CT)
|| Mazie Hirono (HI)
||Angus King (ME)
House of Representatives: status quo
In the House of Representatives, the Republicans will have at least 233 seats and the Democrats will have at least 195. Seven seats have yet to be decided for sure. Among the close races of special note, Minnesota's Michelle Bachmann barely held on to her seat, California's Mary Bono Mack (widow of Sonny Bono) lost by a few points, and Florida's Tea Party favorite Allen West lost by about one point. He is accusing the Democrats of committing voter fraud. See politico.com.
The Congress page has been updated, subject to revision as virtually-tied elections are resolved. I had thought that most of the top party leaders in both Houses would probably stay the same, but I just read that Nancy Pelosi may consider stepping down as the Democrats' leader.
Bizarre election results?
There is NO truth to the Facebook rumor that all 900,135 registered voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio voted for Barack Obama. As I wrote, "I assume that's a joke. Obama received about 421,000 votes in Cuyahoga County." See boe.cuyahogacounty.us.
On the other hand, it does appear to be the case that every single voter in 59 localities in Philadelphia voted for Obama. See philly.com. I assume this will trigger an investigation, or maybe not. It's almost the same thing that happened four years ago with McCain versus Obama. Might such extreme results have something to do with the Black Panthers who were reportedly intimidating voters?
Polling accuracy update
According to the 538 Blog at the New York Times, the most accurate national poll was TIPP, on behalf of Investors' Business Daily. The blogger found that the Rasmussen polls were biased toward Republicans, "overestimating Mr. Romney's performance by about four percentage points, on average." Likewise, the Gallup showed that Romney was ahead by about six percentage points until the final days of the campaign. A black eye for Rasmussen and Gallup. Hat tip to David McGee.
Larry Sabato called Virginia and Florida for Romney, but says he is "glad we got 48 or the 50 states." He was taken by surprise just like many other observers. That marks a slight drop from his forecasting accuracy two years ago. See centerforpolitics.org.
November 19, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Déjà vu: another Marlins "fire sale"
Once again, the Miami Marlins have unloaded several big-money star players in an attempt to scrimp on payroll expenses. Unlike the two previous times when they did it (1997 and 2003), however, they did not just win the World Series. Far from it, in fact. In one of the biggest trades in baseball history, the Toronto Blue Jays are getting shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hand pitcher Josh Johnson, left-hand pitcher Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio. In return, the Marlins get some young prospects, including infielder Yunel Escobar. Altogether, twelve players were involved in the trade. It's a salary dump worth $165 million altogether, but the Marlins will presumably have to "eat" a portion of the contracts they signed with Reyes, et al.
Bud Selig went through the motions of "reviewing" the transaction, which to no one's surprise was made official today. See MLB.com. Given that the Red Sox and Yankees are going through some painful adjustments as their veteran stars retire or leave, the road is open for the Blue Jays to surge to the top in the AL East. Toronto fans are pretty happy, as you can read from Callum Hughson at Mop Up Duty. Meanwhile, Miami fans have reacted with great anger, as they have every right to do. See the Washington Post.
Last December former Met Jose Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million contract with the Marlins, who also acquired much sought-after free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle. But hopes that these acquisitions would make the Marlins competitive proved illusory, as they again finished in last place in the National League Eastern Division.
This deal is a vivid illustration of the inflationary impact of publically-funded stadiums on team payrolls. It maximizes the return on investment to owners, who can make proportionally higher profits by filling seats with happy (and thirsty) fans -- as long as their team keeps winning, of course. That is where the pernicious role of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria comes in. Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell expressed the matter in direct, very strong terms:
You cannot understand the devastation of the Marlins, the fleecing of hundreds of millions of dollars from Miami taxpayers for a new park and the crippling of a franchise for many years to come until you grasp the pattern of business depravity of the man behind it.
On Tuesday, the Marlins didn't just trade away most of the best and most expensive players left on their roster: Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and others, dumping more than $160 million in salary to Toronto.
Loria and his executives turned their seven-month-old, $600-million, 80-percent-publicly-funded park into a toxic dump where no sane player will choose to play as long as present management has its hands on the throats of the team.
As Bosworth writes, Jeffrey Loria's past record should have led people to expect such craven double-dealing. The only way he came up with the money to buy the Marlins in the first place was because he had driven the Expos into the ground, almost worthless in terms of economic value, and the other Major League franchises figured it was better to pay him off than to unleash a scandal. "Too sleazy to fail"? The "weird game of musical chairs" took place in February 2002, when I was just getting started on this Web site. (That link is to a "post facto" blog post.) That three-way transaction was how former Marlins owner John Henry gained ownership of the Boston Red Sox -- at a very fortuitous moment.
Cabrera, Posey win MVP Awards
Miguel Cabrera was named American League Most Valuable Player last week, and Buster Posey won the award for the National League. It's the second year in a row that a Tigers player has won the MVP Award. Last year it was Justin Verlander, who also won the Cy Young Award.
Having won the Triple Crown, there wasn't much doubt that Cabrera would get the MVP nod, but many baseball analysts argue that Mike Trout would have been a better pick. Trout had a higher "Wins Above Replacement" (WAR) rating, taking into account his fielding and baserunning performances. An article by Zack Meisel at MLB.com takes a look at MVP controversies of years past, applying modern Sabermetric techniques to see who was really "most valuable." Personally, I don't worry about such things too much. "Valuable" is an inherently subject adjective, meaning different things to different people. In any case, Cabrera and Posey both deserve hearty congratulations for winning those awards.
Dickey, [Price] win Cy Young Awards
As widely expected, Mets knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey was chosen for the NL Cy Young Award, with 27 out of 32 first-place votes. He had superior statistics in all categories but wins. Last year's winner, Clayton Kershaw [of the Dodgers], was the runner up, and [the Nationals'] Gio Gonzalez, who had the best win-loss record in the majors (20-8), came in third. See MLB.com. On the American League side, the Cy Young Award went to David Price, of the Tampa Bay Rays. Congratulations to Dickey and Price.
Davey Johnson: Manager of the Year!
The Nationals' Davey Johnson was named Manager of the Year by the Sportswriters He got 23 out of 32 first-place votes, far more than Dusty Baker (Reds) or Bruce Bochy (Giants). In 1997 Johnson was named American League Manager of the Year Award for his success in leading the Baltimore Orioles into the postseason. There is no question that he has rare leadership talent, and richly deserves getting recognized for leading the Nats into their first postseason campaign. Johnson earned the trust and respect of his players by taking the time to understand them as individuals, beyond being good at baseball strategy per se. He says he looks forward to taking care of "unfinished business" in the 2013 season. See MLB.com. Natitude!
So at least the Nationals won two of the big annual awards, [Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year], something to be proud of.
Great American Ballpark upate
The Great American Ballpark diagrams have been revised, with a few minor corrections and greatly enhanced accuracy in the rendering of the profiles and entry portals in the upper deck. There is now a full-[view] version that shows the adjacent office buildings and entry plaza. I realized that, much like PETCO Park and Progressive Field, "the forward portion of the grandstand roof consists of bare structural beams," except that it's smaller than at those other two stadiums, so it [wouldn't] make much difference as far as shade. Also, unlike them, there are three lateral rows of such beams, about two feet apart.
While thinking about the sad way the Reds' postseason quest came to an end (three straight losses at home), it occurred to me that "GABP" is one of the relatively few (nine) "neoclassical" ballparks yet to have hosted a World Series game. The others are (in chronological order) Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Miller Park, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Target Field, and Marlins Park. All but eight neoclassical ballparks have hosted the All Star Game, including GABP, Yankee Stadium II, Citizens Bank Park and the last five stadiums on that list, and one of those nine will be the ASG host next year: Citi Field. I'll have to create a new Web page to tabulate such "major events" and other milestones for each stadium.
The mail bag
Here's a couple of recent news items from Mike Zurawski, in case anybody missed hearing about them. First, in early October, Major League Baseball reached a series of agreements with ESPN, Fox Sports and TBS to renew the current TV broadcast arrangement for another eight years, i.e., 2014-2021. Apparently, TBS will be broadcasting fewer divisional series but will broadcast Sunday afternoon games with new co-exist rights during the second half of the regular season. There will be increased streaming of games so that fans can watch on their iPads and other mobile devices. MLB will receive about $1.5 billion per year in exclusive rights fees. One looming question: Will Fox bring back announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver after their contracts expire next year? See ballparkdigest.com.
Also, the Texas Rangers will play two exhibition games at San Antonio's Alamodome next spring. The seats aren't movable in that football/basketball stadium, so they will have to put up a high temporary fence in either right or left field, depending on how the diamond is laid out. See ballparkdigest.com. That article mentions that Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria visited San Antonio a few years ago, as a bargaining tactic to put pressure on South Florida governments to pay for the Marlins' new ballpark. A totally absurd bluff.
More news and correspondence yet to come...
November 22, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Seven Nationals to tie the knot
In the Style section of the Washington Post on Monday, there was news that Nationals players are getting married during the offseason. Nothing like a successful year career-wise to get guys thinking about making long-term plans and settling down with that Special Someone. Michael "The Beast" Morse officially got hitched with Miss Jessica Etably on Saturday, and Ryan "Face of the Franchise" Zimmerman will do likewise with Miss Heather Downen in January. Here is the complete list of the upcoming nuptial celebrations, with approximate wedding dates:
- Michael Morse (November 17)
- Ross Detwiler (December)
- Corey Brown (December)
- Jordan Zimmermann (December)
- Ryan Zimmerman (January)
- Henry Jackson (January)
- Craig Stammen (February?)
Congratulations to all the happy couples!
Natitude: on the field AND in romance!
RFK Stadium update
The RFK Stadium diagrams have been revised, with entry portals displayed [mostly underneath*] for the first time. There are also minor corrections in the profiles, and the lights positioned are more accurately along the roof. What prompted me to do that was the realization that there are several more rows of seats in the far end of the lower deck in the right field corner than my previous lower-deck diagram indicated. (A fan brought that to my attention a year or two ago, but I wasn't sure what he meant.) Evidently, fans in the rear corner can't (or couldn't) even see the right field fence. I also realized that the lower deck behind home plate has four more rows than I previously estimated (about ten feet), reaching back almost as far as the upper deck. The overhang is just preposterous, dramatizing how the weight of the upper deck in that particular part of the stadium is suspended almost entirely by cables.
* That page now has two (2) lower-deck version diagrams (showing the football-to-baseball conversion much more clearly than before), as well as an all-new upper-deck version diagram. It's the second such stadium page with such a feature; the other one is Cleveland Stadium. That's a hint of what is in store for the New Year, after I finish up diagram revisions and move on to enhancing them. All stadiums with particularly large roofs (such as Milwaukee County Stadium or any of the Early 20th century "Classical" baseball stadiums) will eventually have separate upper-deck version diagrams, as well as separate lower-deck version diagrams.
It's over for D.C. United
Part of what prompted my interest in RFK Stadium was the soccer playoff match held there on Sunday afternoon. D.C. United fell to the Houston Dynamo in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference playoffs on Sunday, the second time this season that a Washington team has lost in a postseason playoff sports contest. D.C. United has won four MLS championships (1996, 1997, 1999, and 2004), but has not done as well in recent years. Houston will face the Los Angeles [Galaxy*] in the MLS Cup match on December 1. See mlssoccer.com. Attendance at the match was 20,015, technically a "sell out," given that the upper deck at RFK has been closed to spectators for the past few seasons. Will D.C. United get a new stadium any time soon?
[* David "Bend It Like" Beckham recently announced he will leave the L.A. Galaxy and U.S. soccer after the championship game on December 1, but made it clear he is not retiring completely. He has had a big impact on broadening the popularity of soccer over the past few years. See mlssoccer.com.]
American football news
A few miles east in the Maryland suburbs, meanwhile, the Washington Redskins finally won a game, beating the Philadelphia Eagles 31-6. I was shocked to see how little of the upper deck remains at FedEx Field, which used to hold 91,000 fans. Attendance was 79,000. The original design of the stadium was rather dull, basically an enlarged version of Giants Stadium (demolished last year), so I didn't object when they removed the upper portion of the upper decks on the end zone sides last year. It was a lot like the similar removal of excess seats from U.S. Cellular Field in 2004, the only such case of baseball stadium "shrinkage." But this year the Redskins removed even more seating sections (see July 17), and what is left looks just weird, IMHO. Later today, the "Washington" (Landover) Redskins will face the "Dallas" (Arlington) Cowboys, in Texas.
The decision by the University of Maryland to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and join the Big Ten reflected a desperate financial situation of that institution's varsity sports programs. The Terrapins have already had to shut down several of their athletic teams, but the anticipated TV revenues apparently far outweigh the ACC "exit fee" and the sharply increased costs of transporting the teams hundreds of miles to various college towns across the Midwest. (What energy shortage?) It defies all normal logic, and is just plain wrong. In part it's a reflection of the overall crisis of higher education funding in the United States, but it's also another sign that college sports is rapidly abandoning any pretense of being an amateur endeavor. [The surreptitious process by which the decision was reached raises disturbing questions, reminiscent of what happened at U.Va. in June.] See the Washington Post "Social Reader"; hat tip to Matthew Poteat. As I wrote on Facebook, "
The increased commercialization of college sports is steadily destroying the entire conference system, raising further doubts about the whole idea of a "national champion," which I think is ridiculous anyway. I like football, but as time passes, I care less and less about college sports.
And while we're on the topic of college football, I should mention that the Notre Dame "Fighting Irish" have ascended to #1 ranking in the NCAA, after previously-undefeated Kansas State and Oregon lost their respective games on Saturday. Was it just a coincidence that I paid a visit to Notre Dame Stadium for the first time last August?
The mail bag
Here's some more ballpark news, courtesy of Mike Zurawski. As part of their renovations of Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners are installing a new [scoreboard that] will be the biggest video display in Major League Baseball. It will be 56.7 feet high and 201.5 feet wide, wider than the roof-suspended video display in Cowboys Stadium. See seattletimes.com. And the Milwaukee Brewers are going to install a 25-foot rock-climbing wall shaped like a Mountain Dew can beyond right-center field, [...] and the Home Plate Lounge will be spiffed up with a "concierge counter," new carpeting, etc. See MLB.com and ballparkdigest.com.
Also, Mark London sent me links to news stories about the Rangers' exhibition games [against the Padres] at the Alamodome in San Antonio next spring: ksat.com woai.com. It will be 340 feet to left field, 370 feet to left center, 395 feet to center field, with the deepest point slightly to the right of that, 305 feet to right center, and just 280 feet to right field. Diagram? Maybe eventually, but first I need to do that Disney ballpark in Orlando where the Rays played a few real games a couple years ago.
Finally, Jonathan Veilleux was watching a video of Harmon Killebrew's gigantic* home run in Metropolitan Stadium on June 3, 1967, and asked me how high the upper deck in left field was. I told him that my diagrams indicate that it was 50-55 feet to the front edge of the upper deck, but "after further review," that's about 10 feet too high, I think. That realization prompted me to get started on redoing the Metropolitan Stadium diagrams, which are two years old. (Stay tuned!) It was about 410 horizontally to the upper deck straight down the left field foul line, and if the ball landed into the sixth row of the left field upper deck, I'd say it landed about 435 feet from home plate, about 50 feet above the ground.
* Bill Jenkinson, author of Baseball's Ultimate Power, estimates that ball would have gone 522 feet, the longest homer ever hit at Metropolitan Stadium.
I'll get to more news and correspondence this weekend. In the mean time,
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
November 25, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Stadium comparison page updates
Following up on my recent work on comparing various aspects of stadiums, I have made major updates to two stadium comparison reference pages, as well as minor changes to another. First, the Stadium statistics page now includes data on total years of MLB lifetime and years in "hiatus / limbo," as well as backstop distances and upper-deck and lower-deck overhang. I think those latter pieces of information will be especially useful to ballpark aficionados, and I know of no other systematic attempt to measure the amount of overhang. I also call that variable "shade," but not in the real sense of taking into account the angle of the sun, but simply how much open sky is directly above. (As noted at the bottom of that page, I treat the lower decks of domed stadiums as if they were open, for purposes of measuring overhang.) To make room for all that new data, four data columns which formerly appeared on that page have been moved elsewhere. (See below.)*
Note that several stadiums have non-integral lifetimes, such as Comiskey Park, which lasted 80.5 years. Why? Because the first game in it was July 1, 1910. I realized that my blog post of July 4, 2011 was incomplete, since the list of stadiums that opened in midseason did not include Comiskey Park. (See my updated Blog errata page, which includes among other things my infamous hockey bloopers of 2009 and 2010. ) And speaking of midseason openings, Forbes Field was unique in that it was both inaugurated and retired in the middle of the year: June 30, 1909 and June 28, 1970.
* Those four data columns (year built, beginning and ending year of MLB lifetime, and year of demolition) now appear on the all-new Stadium milestones page. That page also shows the years pertaining to other key historical events in each of the current and past Major League Baseball stadiums, such as major renovations and expansions, as well as All Star Games and World Series games. It also includes championship games from the National Football League, World Cup soccer, and the Olympics.
In essence, the old Stadium statistics page has been split into two parts, one of which ("statistics") focuses on quantitative variables, while the other ("milestones") focuses on chronology.
Finally, the Stadium rankings page has been updated as well, including Marlins Park for the first time. (There may still be a few inconsistencies between that page and the respective stadium pages, so further checking will be required.) It shows in greater detail all my past visits to each stadium, including ballgames, inside tours, closeup external inspections, and mere "drive-by" visits. The two columns of stadium ratings by other people which used to appear on that page have been deleted.
These Web site enhancements have been a long time coming, but they are a sign of bigger and better things to come over the next few months, both in terms of accuracy in graphical and statistical information, and in terms of the Web site's usability. (Get ready for greater functional integration with Facebook and other social media tools!) Thanks to my intrepid reliable sources, especially Bruce Orser and Mike Zurawski, I have been piecing together information that will help to bring the remaining diagrams up to date. Near the top of that list is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. There have been some changes in recent years that had escaped my notice.
The mail bag (belated)
In response to a suggestion made by Kevin Johnson nearly two years ago (!), the distance measurement options on the Stadiums superimposed page are now at the top of the scrolling menus, as well as at the bottom, which is where they were when I mentioned that feature last July. That's a quick 'n easy way to estimate home run distances, verify posted distance markers, etc. So, I added that to the "FAQs" on the Baseball introduction page.
And Christopher Garcia was wondering (back in September) what Candlestick Park would have looked like in a football configuration if the stadium had not been enclosed as it was in 1972. He sent me a modified version of my Candlestick Park diagrams, as well as an alternate reality version of Anaheim Stadium done in the same way. In both cases, with movable single decks in right field, the baseball atmosphere would have been kept largely intact. Obviously, it wouldn't have been big enough for pro football in the long run, but it might have worked for a decade or so. Who knows how things might have ended up?
I'll try hard to get to other long-overdue e-mail inquiries in the next few days.