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April 28, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Phillies sweep the Nationals

After winning eight straight home games this month, the Washington Nationals fell flat against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies, losing all three games in the series. Unlike the Tuesday game, both the Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon games featured superb outings by the starting pitchers. Yesterday Gio Gonzalez allowed only one earned run over six-plus innings, and today Tanner Roark only allowed two hits in seven full innings. In today's game, the Phillies scored all three of their runs in the ninth inning immediately after Bryce Harper struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, while Daniel Murphy crushed two balls to deep right field that would have been home runs were it not for the chilly, wet weather. Instead, they were just long outs, so his batting average has now dropped below the .400 mark. The final score of both games was 3-0. So much for home field advantage...

This marks the first time since last August that the Nats have been shut out in two consecutive games, and the first time that has happened at home since 2007, back when they played in RFK Stadium. Here is the complete list:

Aug. 27-28, 2005STL 0-6STL 0-6(home)
May 16-17, 2006CHC 0-4CHC 0-5(away)
May 29-30, 2007LAD 0-10LAD 0-5(home)
May 31-June 1, 2008ARI 0-4ARI 0-5(away)
July 26-27, 2008LAD 0-6LAD 0-2(away)
Aug. 8-9, 2008MIL 0-5MIL 0-6(away)
July 17-18, 2010FLA 0-2FLA 0-1(away)
May 18-19, 2011NYM 0-3NYM 0-1(away)
June 3-4, 2011ARI 0-4ARI 0-2(away)
Aug. 11-12, 2015LAD 0-5LAD 0-3(away)
Apr. 27-28, 2016PHI 0-3PHI 0-3(home)

And on that disappointing note, the Nationals embark on a brutal ten-day road trip, facing (in order) the St. Louis Cardinals, the Kansas City Royals, and the Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile, the New York Mets have won nine of their last ten games and are now only a half game behind the Nats in the NL East race.

Speaking of the Cubs, I would be remiss not to mention their lopsided 16-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds one week ago, April 21. Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter, backed by five Chicago home runs, including two from Kris Bryant. Somebody up in heaven got a big smile from that one... The Cubs are now 16-5, which is the best record in all of baseball. The second-best team right now is on the other side of Chicago -- yes, the White Sox, who are 16-7! Hmmm....

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium tweak

Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium

I made a few minor enhancement to the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium diagrams, with the "ribbed" section dividers in the roof now displayed, and more detail in the bullpens. Perhaps it's not even worth considering an update.

This was motivated in part by my ongoing (agonizingly prolonged) work on updating the Angel (Anaheim) Stadium diagrams, as that one likewise features prominent "ribs" between each section on top of the roof. Other such stadiums:

April 26, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Nats can't win 'em all

After a memorable weekend in which the Washington Nationals swept the Minnesota Twins, the "D.C. 9" couldn't quite beat the visiting Philadelphia Phillies tonight. For the second game in a row, Max Scherzer gave up a home run in the first inning, a disturbing sign. Even though the Nats put together a nice rally in the fifth inning to tie the game 3-3, the Phillies tacked on another run in the seventh and won it. So now the Nats are "only" 14-5, rather than 15-4.

On Friday night the Twins came to town, and Gio Gonzalez had another solid outing, giving up only two runs in six innings. The Nats took an early lead (7-0 after three innings), as Jayson Werth homered and Jose Lobaton had three RBIs. Nats 8, Twins 4.

On Saturday afternoon, Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run single in the first inning, and neither team scored any runs after that. Tanner Roark was spectacular on the mound, throwing 15 strikeouts over seven innings. It was the third-highest strikeout total in Nationals history. (Max Scherzer threw 17 once, and 16 once.)

The third and final game on Sunday was a wild one, with Stephen Strasburg only gave up one run until the eighth inning, when Bryan Dozier hit a three-run homer. Ouch! The Nats scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth, and with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, who should step up to the plate but Bryce Harper!? With the game on the line, he rose to the occasion and smashed a ball over the center field fence, making the score 4-4. (That put him back into the lead in the majors, with nine home runs.) Yusmeiro Petit did splendidly as a long reliever, pitching from the 11th until the 15th inning. That's when the Twins finally got to him, taking a one-run lead. In the bottom of that inning Danny Espinosa drew a walk, and then stole second base. With the bench all but empty, Manager Dusty Baker had the pitcher Oliver Perez go to bat for the first time since 2010. Then, to the surprise of everyone on the field and in the stands, Perez put down a perfect bunt toward third base, and the catcher threw the ball over the first baseman's head, allowing Espinosa to score the tying run. Un-be-lievable!!! In the bottom of the 16th inning, Chris Heisey had a long at-bat with one out, and finally smashed the ball over the left field bullpen, thereby winning the game in a most bizarre fashion. Nats 6, Twins 5. It was the Nationals' first walk-off homer of the year.

Marlins Park changes

I noticed during the series at Marlins Park last week that the center field fence has been moved in significantly, making it a little less friendly to pitchers but still very daunting for batters. In fact, both Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman took advantage of the shorter distance by hitting homers into the new shrubs that have been planted in the intervening space. And so, I made that small adjustment, with new separate diagrams for 2012 and 2016. Those diagrams haven't been updated otherwise since 2012, so it's possible further corrections will be needed in the months to come.

April 21, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Nationals start the season red hot

You can never tell for sure whether a team's performance in spring training is a sign of how well they will play in the regular season, but so far the Washington Nationals are doing just as well as they were last month. While I was out of town (see note at bottom), the Nationals swept the Atlanta Braves in Washington four games straight, and then on the road they took two of three from the Phillies. In Miami, they lost the first game to the Marlins, 6-1, as Tanner Roark had another shaky outing. But the Nats came roaring back on Tuesday, with a team record four (4) home runs in the seventh inning, one of which was a grand slam by Bryce Harper -- his second of the year, and indeed the second of his career! Aside from that one inning, it was a great pitchers' duel. Final score, 7-0. The Nats beat the Marlins 3-1 on Wednesday, and started this afternoon's game one an auspcious note, with yet another Bryce Harper home run (his eighth of the year!) in the first inning. But Max Scherzer was uncharacteristically sloppy on the mound, and gave up three runs in the first inning, and two more after that. Fish 5, Nats 1.

At this rate (8 homers in 15 games), Bryce Harper will hit 86 home runs this year! He shares the home run lead in the majors with Trevor Story of the Rockies, but he has six more RBIs (22) than anyone else. Hot, hot, hot! His .320 batting average is pretty darned good as well. Other Nats worthy of mention are Daniel Murphy, who has an average of .404, and Wilson Ramos, who is batting .314 so far.

With an 11-4 record, this the Nationals have equalled the mark they set in the first 15 games of the 2012 season, but it is the first time that they have won nine of their first ten games. (They won seven of their first ten games in 2012, 2013, and 2014.) The following table (similar to one I posted on April 17, 2012, which showed the first twelve games) compares the Nationals' record during the first [ TEN ] twelve games for each of their first seven seasons in Washington [thus far] with their cumulative percentage for the year. It's only a rough correlation, but there is a definite pattern:

Year First ten games (W-L) Season total (%)
2005 6-4 .500
2006 2-8 .438
2007 2-8 .451
2008 3-7 .366
2009 1-9 .364
2010 5-5 .426
2011 5-5 .497
2012 7-3 .605
2013 7-3 .531
2014 7-3 .593
2015 4-6 .512
2016 9-1 ???

Go Cubs, Go!

In [Cincinnati] this evening, the Cubs crushed the Reds, 16-0, as Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter. It was the largest margin of victory in a no-hitter in a major league game in over 130 years. Kris Bryant hit two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. See MLB.com. The Cubs and Nationals have been neck-and-neck in the race for the highest winning percentage in the majors, and since the Nats lost today, the Cubs (12-4) are ahead once again. It makes me wonder if there might be some "divine intervention" going on.

The recent lack of baseball blogging was due to the passing away of my father, Alan L. "Cub" Clem, an avid Cubs fan his whole life. At about the same time he died last week, on April 11, the Cubs were on the verge of losing in a no-hitter in their home opener against the Reds, which would have been a disgrace. And then, as if by miracle, they came back after the seventh inning stretch to win the game, 5-3. Coincidence? I wrote and delivered a eulogy for my Dad last Saturday, and posted it on my blog for everybody to read on Monday. "Wait till next year"? It may just be that this year IS next year!

Coors Field Clems

Sister Connie, Dear Old Dad, and Yours Truly watching a Cubs-Rockies game at Coors Field, on August 9, 2009. (Photo previously shown on August 22, 2009.)

April 11, 2016 [LINK / comment]

St. Louis Browns autographs

Our time on this planet is of limited duration, and often all that is left to keep memories of us alive after we are gone are an engraved tombstone or perhaps a few scattered pieces of paper. I was originally going to include this family story when I updated the Sportsmans Park page and diagrams earlier this month, but there was too much else going on at the time. So, a few years ago, my Dad showed me his album of celebrity autographs, of which he was extremely proud, including a page with virtually the entire 1945 St. Louis Browns team. I'm pretty sure my father's first major league game was in the 1944 World Series, all six games of which were played in Sportsmans Park. (The Cardinals won, of course.) These autographs would have been one year later, in 1945. That was indeed impressive, even though I wasn't familiar with the names on it. So I took the time to go through my 2003 Sport Encyclopedia: Baseball book to track down when those players actually spent time in the majors. The ones I could not identify (with questions marks) were presumably coaches.

In particular, my Dad remembered meeting Don Gutteridge, who visited some big social event in Salina, Kansas in the late 1940s, when my father was a military cadet there. Frankly, I'm sorry to say that I really didn't know anything about him, but from my Dad's perspective, Don Gutteridge was a big hero. You can see his lifetime stats and biography at baseball-reference.com. In twelve years of major league baseball (1936-1948), virtually all with the St. Louis Cardinals or Browns, Gutteridge had 39 home runs, 391 RBIs, and a .256 batting average. He died on September 7, 2008 at the age of 96.

St. Louis Browns 1945 autographs
Player MLB years Player MLB years
Fred Hofurann ??? Jim Kramer ???
Don Gutteridge 1936-1948 Joe Schultz 1939-1948
George McQuinn 1936-1948 Mike Kreevich 1931-1945
Luke Sewell (Mgr.) 1921-1942 Nelson Potter 1936-1949
Vern Stephens ??? John Miller ???
George Caster (P) 1934-1946 Jack Jakucki (P) 1936-1945
Weldon West (P) 1944-1945 Zack Taylor (C) 1920-1934
Clyde Humphrey ??? Red Hayworth 1944-1945
Al Hollingsworth 1935-1946 Gene Moore 1931-1945
Earl Jones (P) 1945 Milt Byrnes 1943-1945
Bob Muncrief (P) 1937-1951    
Frank Mancuso 1944-1947    
Pete Gray 1945    
Len Schulte 1944-1946    
Ellis Clary 1942-1945    
Chet Johnson ???    

I'll be traveling home to see my father in South Dakota later today, perhaps the last time I'll get to talk to him. This blog post is a modest (partial) tribute to my Dad, and to the basic idea that baseball memories must be kept alive!

And, Go Cubs, Go!

The Pythagorean Theorem

As the casual observer might guess from visiting this Web site, one of my best subjects in high school was geometry, and that proved useful in my recent struggles to finish the Sportsman's Park diagram updates. Here's why: The reported dimensions for left field, center field, and right field changed a few times between 1926 and 1939, even though the seating sections (left field bleachers and right field covered pavilions) were already completed by 1926. Unless the foul poles moved at some point (which seems unlikely, given that they were aligned exactly at the ends of the upper-deck grandstands), the only thing that could account for dimension changes wold be a shift in the location of home plate. Appllying the Pythagorean Theorem, which states that the square of the length of the hypotenuse in a right triangle is equal to the square of the lengths of the two sides, we can be sure that any change in the left field distance would have to be compensated by an opposite change in the right field distance, and vice versa. The changes reported in Lowry's Green Cathedrals (based in part on contemporary newspaper accounts, from what I can tell) simply do not add up. So I have concluded that there were no changes in outfield dimensions from 1926 until Sportsman's Park was retired in 1966.

For more such fun, see the Outfield trigonometry page.

One week down, 25 more to go

The first week of baseball has seen a fierce fight for the lead in the National League Central and West Divisions, but oddly enough, the St. Louis Cardinals are not yet in the mix. The Chicago Cubs are living up to their sky-high expectations so far, with a 5-1 record, tied with the Cincinatti Reds for the NL Central lead. Unfortunately, the Cubs' star rookier slugger from last year, Kyle Schwarber, tore a knee ligament in a freak collision with teammate Dexter Fowler last Thursday, and will be out for the rest of the year. That's a bad break, but the Cubs still have plenty of reserve power.

It looked like the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins were finally going to get their first wins of the year yesterday afternoon, but they were overcome in the late innings by (respectively) the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. So now the Braves are now 0-5, and the Twins are 0-6. Ouch!

After a planned day of rest on Friday and a game that was "chilled out" (!) on Saturday, the Washington Nationals finally overcame the Miami Marlins in a fine pitchers' duel. Joe Ross went seven full innings and only giving up one run, while Jayson Werth and Clint Robinson got clinch RBI hits in the bottom of the seventh to tip the game in the Nats' favor. Bryce Harper hit his 99th and 100th career doubles, one of which probably would have been his 100th career home run if it hadn't been for the cool, windy conditions. Final score: Nats 4, Marlins 2.

Tonight the Nationals welcome the Atlanta Braves to Washington, with Max Scherzer (who settled for a no-decision on Opening Day) facing Bud Norris, who pitched surprisingly against the Nats well last week. It seems like a lopsided matchup, but you never know...

Braves to host game at Fort Bragg

As part of the Independence Day ceremonies honoring America's armed forces, on July 3 the "Atlanta" Braves will set up camp at a new baseball stadium at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It will be a real game, not just an exhibition: "This is not a drill!" smile The Braves will be the home team, and the Miamia Marlins will be the visitors. See MLB.com. Another new diagram, eventually?

More on Ichiro? Not.

Speaking of the Marlins, their outfielder Ichiro Suzuki probably won't get a chance to break the 3,000-hit level this year, contrary to what I wrote on March 25. He has only had one at-bat this year (MLB.com), and is expected to sit on the bench for the foreseeable future. His batting average plummeted last year, and since consistent hitting was his main claim to fame during his career, he is frankly of much less use to the Marlins or to any other MLB team. Nevertheless, I hope somebody gives him an fighting chance to make history.

Baseball in Montreal?

Two of the exhibition games played two weekends ago took place in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, a.k.a. "The Big Owe." I watched on TV for a while as the Red Sox took on the Toronto Blue Jays, and it was nice to see so many fans present. That of course brought up the possibility that Montreal might get an MLB team again one of these years, and the Tampa Bay Rays are one leading candidates for relocation. The issues of stadium funding, ownership, and fan support were discussed recently at foxsports.com: "the time is ripe."

April 7, 2016 [LINK / comment]

Nats show pop and spunk, but ...

The Washington Nationals have shown a lot of promise in the first three games, and Dusty Baker's feisty, go-get-em spirit may be a big part of that. Daniel Murphy is already proving his worth, coming within a couple feet of a grand slam to right field in the bottom of the first inning in the first official game at Nationals Park this afternoon, but he had to settle for a three-run triple. That made up for the awful first inning pitched by Tanner Roark, when the Miami Marlins scored three runs. He gave up another run in the third inning (after a rain delay of nearly an hour and a half), and was charged with the loss. Bryce Harper hit his second homer of the year, but it wasn't enough. Marlins 6, Nats 4.

In the Wednesday afternoon game, Stephen Strasburg pitched very well, going six innings before Matt den Dekker pinch hit for him in the top of the seventh. Den Dekker had just been called up from the minors after Ben Revere was put on the disabled list. He flew into Atlanta, arrived at Turner Field during the fifth inning, and barely had time to tie his shoelaces when he was up to bat. Ryan Zimmerman had just scored from second base on a hard ground ball hit by Wilson Ramos to the shortstop. Danny Espinosa walked, and then den Dekker smashed a double to the 390 foot mark in right-center field, batting in two runs and putting the Nats ahead for good. Wow! Final score: 3-1.

It's too early to draw any conclusions from just three games, but Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, and the others mentioned above are all hitting pretty well so far. In Atlanta, the Nats came back to win twice, but back home in D.C. today (and tonight) they wasted some run-scoring opportunities. Jayson Werth and Michael Taylor have yet to get a hit, but they have put good wood on the ball more than once.

Random page updates

I updated the text and data on a few pages, including Coors Field and Stadium statistics. I'll be doing a lot of that in the next few days, trying to get all the page formatting consistent at last.

March Madness 2016

I heard that there was a big basketball game on Monday evening, while I was occupied with other things. (!) Villanova beat North Carolina to take the 2016 Men's NCAA championship. Until the Final Four, actually, I was paying a fair amount of attention to the "March Madness" playoffs this year. Why? Well, the University of Virginia Cavaliers made it all the way to the Elite Eight before being upset in the final minutes by Syracuse. D'oh! Malcolm Brogdon had a spectacular final year, and will probably be drafted into the NBA. He "was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's 2016 Player of the Year and its Defensive Player of the Year -- the first player ever to earn both honors in the same season." (See virginia.edu.) Another top player, Anthony Gill is graduating this year, but London Perrantes and Marial Shayok should be back for Virginia in the 2016-2017 season.

South Dakota triumphs!

Speaking of basketball, how many of you were watching CBS Sports Network (not the CBS broadcast network) last Saturday afternoon? Well, if you did, you witnessed a rare and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime event: a sporting event being televised live from the DakotaDome in beautiful Vermillion, South Dakota! (That's where I grew up.) What's more, the home team University of South Dakota Lady Coyotes won the Women's National Invitational Tournament championship, defeating the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles by a score of 71-65. And the crowd went wild! Official attendance was 7,415. (See womensnit.com.)

It was an especially memorable occasion, because it was the last time that basketball will be played at the DakotaDome. A new basketball-sized arena is being built on the south side of the DakotaDome, and is expected to open some time next fall.

Congratulations, Lady Coyotes!


DakotaDome update

So, of course I had to update the DakotaDome diagrams (for the first time since 2010), adding two new variants that show how the roof was upgraded in 2001 from a flimsy air-supported "pillow" (like the Metrodome) to a solid dome supported by steel girders. The diagrams now show the entry portals, and other details are rendered more accurately than before. Also, I added a couple more photos to that page.

From October through December, a table of all Postseason game scores is shown here.

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Coming Attractions

(Includes major revisions, minor revisions, pages with additional diagrams, and future stadiums that are under construction. This is only a rough guide; the sequence is subject to change.)

Stadium construction

Between March 2012, when Marlins Park was completed, and September 2014, there were no major league baseball stadiums under construction. It was the first time since September 1986 that this situation existed. But in light of the recent groundbreaking on the future home of the Braves, the table that had been removed from this space is being restored.

Stadium construction

Franchise /
Opens % done
Atlanta Braves
Sun Trust Field
2017 40%
Oakland (San Jose?) Athletics
Cisco Field (?)
2020? 0%
Tampa Bay Rays
Rays Stadium (?)
2020? 0%
NOTES: This table includes stadiums that are currently under construction or are being contemplated.

Research department: