April 4, 2003 [LINK]
Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn has a Web site featuring a vigorous debate on the Cubs' decision to put up a "wind screen" to block the view of freeloading spectators from neighboring rooftops. While that move reminds one of the "spite wall" built in right field at Philadelphia's Shibe Park in 1935, which soured fan support for the Athletics, I think it's justified. As Mr. Zorn says, it would be fine to tolerate small-scale informal "piracy," but the permanent rooftop bleachers and blatant commercialization are a rip-off that undermines the Cubs franchise.
According to six architects canvassed by The Cincinnati Enquirer, Great American Ball Park "is fragmented. It has too many elements and lacks a consistent overall design." Because of client interference with the design process, they said, there are many "hokey" aspects that add up to aesthetic disharmony. For example, several of them complained that the weird gap between the upper decks behind the left side dugout (similar to Comerica Field in Detroit) fails to serve its intended purpose of adding visibility. GABP does indeed seem to have too many contrived "quirks," rather like The Ballpark in Arlington.
The Boston Red Sox have added a new seating section atop the "Green Monster" at Fenway Park. It's only three rows, so it won't significantly alter the overall ambience. Plus, it's a good sign that the new owners of the Red Sox are committed to renovating this wonderful, funky old ballpark.
Yankee star Derek Jeter suffered a dislocated shoulder while sliding head first into third base on Monday. Hopefully he'll only be out for a few weeks. Since yesterday, six other teams have caught up to the Yankees' perfect record of 3-0, including the Montreal Expos, which some wishful Washington and Virginia fans are starting to consider their home team. Vladimiro Guerrero becomes a free agent next year, however, so it will be hard for the franchise to hold onto him. Attendance in Baltimore yesterday was only 18,740, the lowest ever at Camden Yards, substantiating Thomas Boswell's argument (see below) that the Orioles' owners are trying to draw pity in a scheme to keep baseball out of Washington.