July 24, 2018 [LINK / comment]
Fenway Park HUGE update!
After the usual lengthy, painstaking process of squinting at photos and tweaking pixels, I finished a major diagram update for Fenway Park, the first since 2011. For the first time, there is a lower-deck diagram, which shows where the entry portals and support beams are located, among other fascinating details. I got started updating those diagrams soon after I returned from my first visit inside Fenway Park nearly two years ago, but various other things got in my way, and I found it hard to muster the energy and concentration required until recently.
None of my diagrams are perfect, but I am pretty confident that the ones of stadiums that I have visited are especially accurate. In revising the Fenway Park diagram, I relied heavily upon the photographs I took there during a tour in September 2016. (I counted 130 photos!) Being able to see details in the first deck (such as the location of support beams) helped me to deduce how certain upper-level features are actually configured. I finally got the proper position and angle of the grandstand in the right field corner, which had long been a vexing puzzle. Part of the problem was the discontinuity in the roof near the right foul pole after the 1950s. They sliced off about 20 feet of the roof when they expanded the upper-level section in the 1960s or 1970s, apparently because the support beams couldn't hand the extra weight so far forward. I finally realized that the front row of the upper-level seats were a few feet lower than the edge of the roof further out toward the bleachers. Figuring out that conundrum made everything else a lot easier.
I plan to add several more photos to that page in the near future, as part of my long-term project of incorporating more large-size photos on my baseball stadium pages. Thanks for your patience as I gradually move ahead!
FUN FACT: Most people know Fenway Park as the home of the Boston Red Sox, but it was once also the home of the Boston Redskins!
In the "Fans' impressions" section of that page, Matthew B. of San Jose, California asked back in January, "Can you share more info on the 'hypothetical' configuration (cited as 1988) where home plate is moved to right field? Never heard of this, and curious to know more!" Well, it is merely my own fantasy that was rendered moot when the upper level at Fenway Park was expanded into a small deck back in 2008. Prior to then, I had suggested a way for the Red Sox to continue playing in Fenway Park during a major construction project in which an upper deck with 12-15 rows would be built. Something on that scale couldn't be done over the winter, as the Red Sox did with their expansion, so I suggested moving home plate to the right field corner and installing a 37-foot high fence in the "atlernate" center field. That situation is no longer a possibility, but someone asked me a few years ago to put that hypothetical diagram back on the Fenway Park page because it is so intriguing, so I did.
Nats' slump continues
Every time something good happens for the Nationals, it seems, they immediately squander the positive momentum shift and revert to mediocrity. On Friday, fresh off a thrilling All Star Game and Bryce Harper's triumph at the Home Run Derby, they opened a home series against the Braves. Hopes were high as Stephen Strasburg had his first start since June 8, but it immediately went bad, with the first two Atlanta batters getting hits and then scoring. He got things under control for a while, but in the fifth inning the Braves rallied and he was pulled from the game with six runs charged against him. There was a heated exchanged with Max Scherzer in the dugout, another sign of bad vibes. Three Nationals homered, but they still lost, 8-5.
Saturday's game was rained out, and the Sunday game started about two hours late due to more rain. Max Scherzer had a solid outing, giving up two runs over six innings, while both Adam Eaton and Juan Soto went three for four at the plate. A clutch two-run double by Anthony Rendon gave the team enough breathing room to play like they are supposed to. Bryce Harper hit a homer (his 24th) in the late innings to provide insurance, and the Nats won, 6-1.
On Monday the Nats began a road trip in Milwaukee, and Gio Gonzalez had a so-so kind of day on the mound. He pitched into the sixth inning, with the score 3-1 in the Brewers' favor, at which point Christian Yelich hit a bases-loaded triple to double his team's run total. Final score: 6-1.
Tonight, the Nats had a 4-0 lead after two innings, thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Zimmerman (just back from the DL) and a three-run homer by Adam Eaton. (I missed all that because I was finishing up work on the Fenway Park diagrams.) On the mound, Jeremy Hellickson was doing just fine until Christian Yelich hit a two-run homer to cut the Nats' lead to 4-3. The Brewers tied the game in the seventh inning, and as usual, the Nats kept wasting run-scoring opportunities. In the bottom of the tenth, Nats pitcher Matt Grace gave up singles to the first two batters, and with runners on first and third, was obliged to walk the bases loaded. The Nats had a five-man infield in hopes of getting a force out at the plate, but when a fly ball went to left field, Juan Soto threw the ball off line to home plate, and Lorenzo Cain scored the winning run tagging up at third. Final score: 5-4.
Doolittle on the DL
The bad news on Saturday was that Sean Doolittle's foot problems are worse than had been thought. He has a pre-fracture bone stress condition that requires special care for at least a few weeks. All of a sudden, the recent acquisition of relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera from the Royals looks like a godsend for the Nats, who have suffered an undue number of injuries this year. If Doolittle doesn't return until late August or September, it's going to be extremely hard to make up the games behind in the NL East. After tonight's loss, the Nats are now 49-51, and will either be six or seven games back, depending on the outcome of the Dodgers-Phillies game, which also went into extra innings.