August 4, 2020
The St. Louis Cardinals were forced to postpone their weekend series in Milwaukee after seven of their players and six staff members tested positive for the covid-19 virus. Among those affected are veteran catcher Yadier Molina and shorstop Paul DeJong. The Cardinals' games in Detroit this week have also been postponed, but they hope to resume play at home on Friday.
The disruptions to MLB schedule have been very stressful for the players, taxing the sport to the limit. The effects have been felt unevenly, which will inevitably raise questions about whether the curtailed 2020 season can really be considered fair or balanced. The Miami Marlins missed seven games over the past eight days, and after winning against Baltimore tonight, they now have a 3-1 record; that's only four games, whereas most teams have played 11 or 12 games already. The Philadelphia Phillies are the other team with just four games, and the Cardinals have played just five. The Nationals are one of three teams that have played eight games. To add to the weirdness, all the Nationals games thus far have been played at home, although two of them were technically "road" games; see below.
After taking the weekend off due to the coronavirus and getting an extra (unneeded) day of rest on Monday, the Nationals beat the New York Mets tonight, 5-3. Howie Kendrick and Josh Harrison (a veteran outfielder recently-signed to replace Juan Soto) both homered in the early innings, and Patrick Corbin had another solid outing to get the win, with eight strikeouts.
The Mets are without the services of Yoenis Cespedes, who decided (rather belatedly) to opt out of playing this year for health reasons. He was out of touch with his team for a few days and seems disgruntled. He missed almost two years due to injuries, and the Mets did not exactly get their money's worth from his four-year $110 million contract.
Tonight's win came after the Nationals bounced back from two lackluster defeats at the hands of the Blue Jays last week with two "road" victories against the same team played in Nationals Park. Huh??? As mentioned last week, the Blue Jays are not allowed to play games in Toronto this year, and because they were unable to get a replacement venue ready in time, they simply played the games in Washington instead. With no fans present, the psychological aspect of home field advantage is nullified. In the Wednesday game, neither team scored for the first nine innings, which triggered the new rule that each team starts with a runner on second in extra innings. I dislike such deviations from normal play, but it worked to the Nats' advantage, as they quickly had the bases loaded with nobody out. The next two batters failed to reach base, leaving it up to Adam Eaton. He smacked a high bouncing ball to the second baseman, who couldn't quite tag Andrew Stevenson who slid into second base as the first run of the game scored. Then Asdrubal Cabrera hit a bases-clearing triple, and that's how the Nats won, 4-0. Max Scherzer threw ten strikeouts over seven-plus innings but did not get credit for the win. The Nats also won on Thursday, as Michael A. Taylor had his second home run of the year. (It was also his second hit of the year; he has a .143 batting average.) Starlin Castro went 4 for 5 at the plate for the Nats, and the bullpen made up for the unavailability of Stephen Strasburg. Final score: Nats 6, Blue Jays 4.
The Nationals can be cheered by the hitting of new infielders Starlin Castro (batting .379) and Carter Kieboom (.417), and by the return of outfielder Juan Soto to the active roster. He claims that his covid-19 tests gave a false positive, and the fact that he suffered no symptoms and returned so quickly lend credence to the assertion. But it is well known that a large percentage of those infected are asymptomatic, which is one reason why the virus is so dangerous.
The Atlanta Braves received some bad news yesterday: star pitcher Mike Soroka somehow got hurt the other night, and it turns out he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. That means he'll be out for the rest of the year. The Braves are dominating the NL East this season with an 8-4 record (technically they're in second place behind the 3-1 Marlins), and if this baseball season makes it through the end of September, the Braves will almost certainly be in the postseason.
The Chicago White Sox announced that they won't play their August 13 game at the Field of Dreams near Dyersville, Iowa as had been planned; they'll play there next year instead. It was originally supposed to be a game against the Yankees, but the covid-19 forced the schedule to be redrawn from scratch, with no games outside each team's "region." I'm not surprised by the decision, as there really wasn't a point to holding such a game without any fans. The game won't be at the actual diamond where the movie was filmed (and which remains a destination for tourists), but is a couple hundred yards to the northwest. Obviously, I'll have to redo the badly-outdated Field of Dreams page later this year or perhaps next year. Hat tip to Mark London.
After a busy month taking care of Globe Life Field and a few odds and ends in July, I finally got back to my planned sequence of diagram revisions, with an update of Candlestick Park, former home of the San Francisco Giants. The last major revision of those diagrams was in early 2012. (I did a minor update of those diagrams in December of that year.) How big was this revision? How big was Candlestick Park?? Well, many of the changes involved small details, so some people might not notice. I added "ribs" to the roof, as I have done previously for such stadiums as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Angel Stadium. Those structural elements help to calibrate various details, enabling me to render them more precisely. I also added the support columns in the lower deck diagram, and the rebuilt press boxes and mezzanine seating levels. I noticed that in photos taken in the latter years (1980s) those sections protrude about three feet in front of the front edge of the upper deck. Kansas City's Municipal Stadium had a similar feature. Other new details include the bullpen mounds and plates, exit ramp slope directions (in the lower-deck diagram), and variations in the profiles to account for the fact that in much of Candlestick Park, the lower deck was built directly on top of excavated dirt, with no rooms beneath it. If you look closely and click on the diagram to compare the new version to the old version, you'll probably notice a number of other small changes. Enjoy!