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January 2, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Are you ready for some hockey?
The annual National Hockey League Winter Classic is half way into the third period right now, with the New York Rangers leading the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2. You know what that means:
Yes, baseball fans, I had to update the Citizens Bank Park page with a hockey version diagram. As you can see, they built a temporary bleacher section in what would be deep center field. They should have built such bleachers a lot closer to the ice, I think. The Flyers' usual home ice is Wells Fargo Center, formerly known as Wachovia Center. At least that's what my 2012 World Almanac says. Back in June 2009 I learned better than to express opinions or facts about hockey, so that's all I'll say for now.
I also learned from long-time fan Matt Ereth that an outdoor college hockey match between Ohio State and Michigan will be held at Progressive Field in Cleveland on January 15. I suppose I'll have to do that one as well.
At some point I plan to do a historical chronology of pro sports franchises, comparing which cities had how many pro teams from the four major sports on a decade by decade basis. Stay tuned...
January 7, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Cubs "give" Zambrano to Marlins
The Chicago Cubs were so completely fed up with the rude and violent antics of Carlos Zambrano that they were willing to absorb $16 million of the $18.5 million remaining on his contract, trading him to the Miami Marlins. In return, the Cubs get pitcher Chris Volstad, who had a 5-13 record last year, but was a first-round draft pick in 2005 and apparently still holds some promise for improvement. The new manager of the "Fish," Ozzie Guillen, strongly pushed for that trade. The Marlins' president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said he was aware of Zambrano's "questionable" behavior, rationalizing that "A lot of it comes from competitive fire." See MLB.com. Zambrano has a 125-81 career record with a 3.61 ERA, so there is a big potential up side, but the Marlins better hope he settles down. I can imagine the Cubs are saying,
"Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium update
Even with a relatively plain and ordinary structure like Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, I sometimes come across new information that leads to significant improvements in my diagrams. I finally figured out what accounted for the 2,000-seat capacity gain in 1974: six additional rows of seats were installed around the infield, except for behind home plate, thus creating a "notch" there for the first time. Prior to 1974, the front edge of the grandstand formed a circle, albeit with varying radii. The other changes are mostly in the details, such as the exact placement of the lights or the dugouts (which were rebuilt closer to the diamond in ). Apparently, fans ascended to the upper level via stairwells that led to the front edge of the second deck. That was the same manner of upper-deck access that was used at Oakland Coliseum, built just a couple years later.
One thing I learned is that Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was one of only two stadiums whose team went to the World Series in four of the six final years it was in operation: Ebbets Field was the other one. Not a bad way to finish! The stadium in Atlanta is distinguished by the fact that no World Series games were played there for the first 25 years it served as the Braves' home. But at least that wasn't as frustrating as when they played in Braves Field, in Boston!
Since this is college bowl season (more on that topic soon), I should mention that Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was the home of the Peach Bowl from 1971 until 1991. Since then that annual event has been played at the Georgia Dome. The Peach Bowl was more or less "bought" by the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain, and is now known simply as the "Chick-Fil-A Bowl."
Welcome back, Bob!
The Washington Nationals extended the contract of their TV play-by-play announcer on MASN, Bob Carpenter. He practically exudes professionalism and enthusiasm, and I look forward to watching him narrate as the Nats begin play this spring. (Only three months away...) It's Carpenter's seventh year with the Nationals, and it's hard to believe it's been that long. Joining him in the booth high atop the Shirley Povich Press Box will be F.P. Santangelo, in his second year. See MLB.com.
Apparently, the Nationals are still negotiating with Prince Fielder. Maybe the lack of interested teams has brought the asking price down a bit. He's probably worth $25 million over three years. I wonder what Nats GM Mike Rizzo thinks?
January 9, 2012 [LINK / comment]
Superdome (name and diagram) update
All across America this evening, fans will be watching the BCS Championship Game being played in beautiful downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. The Louisiana State University Tigers (who play in another "Tiger Stadium" -- located in Baton Rouge, not Detroit) face the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. Being in close proximity to the Big Easy, both teams will have home field advantage, in effect.
And so, I took the opportunity to finish long-overdue revisions to the Superdome diagrams. I added a new lower-deck version, showing more clearly how the reconfiguration from football to baseball was done. As of last year, such a change is no longer possible, because they have totally rebuilt the lower deck (which no longer retracts), along with a much bigger main concourse, etc. While I was at it, I also added a hypothetical suggested alternative baseball configuration, in which home plate would be on the southwest side of the field, rather than in the south corner, as before.
And by the way, what was once called the Louisiana Superdome is now called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Presumably that's where some of the money for the renovation came from. The name change formally took place back in October, actually.
I was reminded of the Superdome name change during the Sugar Bowl last Tuesday night, as Michigan Wolverines edged the Virginia Tech Hokies 33-30 in overtime. A few days before that, the U.Va. Cavaliers were trounced by Auburn in the "Chick-Fil-A Bowl," and Clemson was crushed by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech also lost, and the only Atlantic Coast Conference team to win a bowl game this year was Florida State. Not a good year for ACC football.
Bowl championship madness
Speaking of bowls, in case I haven't made this clear enough before, I have very little interest in the controversy over the Bowl Championship System. In a sport with so many potentially contending teams (over a hundred), and only about a dozen games played per year, there is simply no way that any playoff system can yield a clear-cut Number One team. Nevertheless, every year I hear more people whining about the alleged arbitrary or unfair manner in which teams are chosen to participate in the Big Four Bowls: Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta. (The Cotton Bowl used to be in the Big Four.) If you're really curious about the rationale behind the current BCS system, see bcsfootball.org. But it won't change my mind:
There is no such thing as a "national champion" college football team.
[UPDATE: Alabama thoroughly dominated the line of scrimmage throughout the evening, and won rather handily, 21-0. Oddly, however, they didn't score any touchdowns until the last few minutes, and then they missed the extra point, or else it would have been 22-0. Meanwhile, Louisiana State barely got the ball to midfield, and didn't make a single third-down conversion until the fourth quarter. In this case, there's not much room for disputing who's the "top dog," so congratulations to the Crimson Tide.]
College bowls in baseball parks
I am in the midst of updating all of the baseball stadiums pages in which college bowls were played; The links can be found on the Football use page. The truly significant bowls (basically, those which were in existence prior to the 1990s) are listed at the top of the text portion of each respective page, along with the All-Star Games (if any) and other major sporting events. The following table is ranked in rough order of importance:
||Baseball stadium name
||Sun Life (Dolphin) Stadium
|| 1996 - present
||Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
||Jack Murphy (QualComm) Stadium
|| 1978 - present*
||Eagle Bank Bowl
|| 2008 - present
|| 2001 - 2005
|Seattle Bowl (defunct)
|| 2001 only
|Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
|| 2002 - present
|Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
||St. Petersburg Bowl
|| 2008 - present
As of this year, of course, the stadium at the top of that list (Sun Life / Dolphin Stadium) no longer serves as a baseball stadium.
Bowl naming confusion
It makes my head spin trying to keep up with all the name changes for various bowl games, sponsors, etc., and I don't plan to make much effort to keep up with those changes. The table above barely scratches the surface. Some of these changes stretch the limits of credulity, such as the last two listed above. The now-defunct Seattle Bowl, which was played at Safeco Field in 2001 and had been the Oahu Bowl before that, was the subject of a legal dispute that was resolved last September; see ESPN. Also note that some of those stadiums host more than one bowl game. For example, QualComm Stadium also hosts the Poinsettia Bowl.
One aspect of the confusion is that some of the bowls have left the stadiums that were originally named for those events. I hope this clears up some of the confusion:
The (AT&T) Cotton Bowl Classic was played at Cotton Bowl Stadium from 1937 until 2009, after which it moved to Cowboys Stadium in suburban Arlington, Texas, the new home of the "Dallas" Cowboys. Ironically, in 2008 a major renovation to Cotton Bowl Stadium was completed, raising its seating capacity to 92,158. It is now double-decked all the way around the oval. Apparently, some big shots in Dallas were mad that the Cowboys were abandoning their city and were frantically trying to keep the Cotton Bowl there, but from what I can tell, this expansion was a complete waste of money. Now the only bowl played there is the TicketCity Bowl. See cottonbowlstadium.com and ticketcitybowl.com.
The (Discover, formerly FedEx) Orange Bowl was played in the Orange Bowl from 1935 until 1995, after which it moved to Sun Life Stadium. For the next 15 years, the Orange Bowl lingered semi-vacant in a state of "limbo." The new home of the Miami Marlins is being built on that same plot of land.
As for the (Allstate, formerly Nokia) Sugar Bowl, there never was a "Sugar Bowl Stadium" -- From 1935 until 1974, the Sugar Bowl was held in Tulane Stadium, which was demolished in 1980.
The only major bowl game that retains its historical name untainted by commercial sponsorship, is the Rose Bowl, which is played in the (eponymous) Rose Bowl. Good for them!
[UPDATE: The (Tostitos) Fiesta Bowl got underway in 1971, and was played in Sun Devil Stadium until 2006, when the University of Phoenix Stadium became the new home of the Arizona Cardinals. That stadium is notable in being the only university in America that has a football stadium but no football team. For more on the history of some of these bowls, see my blog post from Dec. 22, 2008. As I wrote then of the Bowl Championship System, "I think it's all a farce, and should be junked."]
Culture & Travel
Science & Technology
Baseball Archives 2002
Baseball Archives 2003
Baseball Archives 2004
* Prior to late 2004, there was no formal blogging system, just occasional ad hoc text updates. The three archive pages linked above are a compilation of those updates, which are in the process of being incorporated into the formal blog archive system on a piecemeal "post facto" basis.
Stadium updates (2012)
Peter Angelos (rants)
Postseason scores since 2002
Postseason scores (2012), below.