November 22, 2014 [LINK / comment]
Citi Field shrinks again
For the second time in its brief six-year lifetime, Citi Field's dimensions are being reduced. The distance to the right-center fence will be 380 feet rather than 390 feet, in hopes that it will be easier for David Wright to hit home runs out there. It was originally 415 feet to the deep corner out there. I'm glad the fence is being straightened out, since the bend that was put there in 2012 was arbitrary and served no purpose. But frequent changes such as this seem tacky and almost desperate. It reminds me of how many times the Boston Braves changed the fences (and/or diamond position) at Braves Field. See ESPN and the New York Post. Hat tips to Mike Zurawski, Terry Wallace, and Glenn Simpkins.
And so, I made some provisional modifications to the Citi Field diagram, along with the previous (2012) and original (2009) diagrams, but since I'm yet not sure where the bullpens are going to be, I put "WORK IN PROGRESS" and question marks in the (purely conjectural) bullpens. So, this doesn't count as an official "update."
And speaking of stadium shrinkage, I mentioned that many seats in the right field upper deck at Progressive Field are being removed to make room for fancy watering holes, etc. They did the same thing at Coors Field last year, but I failed to make note of it. In both cases, I have begun making the necessary diagram revisions.
And of course, the "daddy of them all" when it comes to (baseball) stadium shrinkage is U.S. Cellular Field. In that case, the revised diagrams are nearly completed.
One could argue that FedEx Field has shrunk more than any other in terms of seating capacity, but with the Redskins doing so poorly lately, I'd rather not go there.
There is more news about stadiums yet to come...
A clock for baseball?
To save time in a sport that seems to drag on longer and longer each year, the Arizona Fall League is using a clock in baseball. In today's Washington Post, James Wagner wrote that the average length of nine-inning games in 2014 was 3 hours 2 minutes, compared to 2 hours 33 minutes in 1981. Indeed, something has to be done to attract more potential fans.
I agree with Nationals prospect Spencer Kieboom (!), who said "I don't like the idea of a clock in baseball..." I would restrict conferences on the mound, etc. (as they are doing in Arizona), but I would penalize pitchers throwing the ball to first base too often, charging them with a ball on every second throw. I would also charge batters a strike if they step out of the batter's box more than once in an at-bat.
Stanton gets $325 M deal
The rumors were true! The Miami Marlins owners (mainly Jeffrey Loria) are so desperate to prove they are committed to fielding a good team that they agreed to pay their young slugger Giancarlo Stanton $325 million over the course of a 13-year contract. That's nearly a third of a billion dollars, and perhaps over half of what Marlins Park cost to build. (Estimates vary widely; see bleacherreport.com and nbcsports.com.) That's just unheard-of, and more than a little ridiculous, I think. Team President David Samson hailed the deal as a big boost to ticket sales, and Miami fans are obviously in need of some kind of motivation. Stanton, whose name is spelled "Staunton" here in Virginia (!), hit 37 home runs in 2014, the most in the National League. See MLB.com, which also notes that the Marlins made an offer to a certain former National...
LaRoche joins White Sox
ESPN reports that the Chicago White Sox signed former Washington National first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract worth $25 million. The red-headed lefty (and hunting enthusiast) hit 26 home runs this year, and 243 during his career. He is 35 years old. He thus becomes the second former Nationals slugger named Adam to be acquired by the White Sox. The other was Adam Dunn, who was traded to the Oakland A's this year and announced he would then retire.