January 25, 2013
Here in the East, the temperatures are dipping into the teens tonight, making us jealous of those folks who live in warmer regions as we don wool socks and thermal underwear. So, it's only fitting to pay tribute to the home state of "California Gurrl" Katy Perry with some updates to the diagrams, etc. from that part of the U.S.A.
The Oakland Coliseum diagrams have been revised, with the entry portals depicted for the first time. Including those details helped me to make a few minor corrections in the "Mount Davis" grandstand addition of 1996, but the original 3/4-circle grandstand is otherwise virtually the same as it was before. Note that the entry portals in the second deck are slightly deeper than the ones on the third deck, but the ones near the infield were enlarged after the 1996 renovation. In those parts of the grandstand, fans now enter the upper deck along a flat corridor emerging from the new upper-level concourse, rather than climbing a staircase. But of course the upper deck is closed for baseball games nowadays, so it doesn't really matter from a baseball perspective.
There is [a] new feature on the Oakland Coliseum page: my own estimates of fair and foul territory, based on a graphical editing technique I recently devised. It should be accurate to within a half percent or so, but I'll have to do likewise for other stadiums and compare to other peoples' estimates before I can be sure. In this case, there are approximately 107,867 square feet in fair territory and 40,733 square feet foul territory -- no doubt, the biggest in the major leagues right now. In the months to come I will be adding similar data to all stadium pages.
I saw Jerry Maguire again a week or two ago, and I'm almost sure that [some of] the scenes were filmed outside of Oakland Coliseum. At one point they are talking inside a glass-enclosed [high-level] luxury suite on the northeast side, and the curved portion of the grandstand along the opposite sideline is fairly clear. After the game Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. are walking outside the stadium, and the grass berm lanscaped with trees looks just like Oakland Coliseum. The Internet Movie DataBase says it was filmed in L.A. Memorial Coliseum, [as well as Sun Devil Stadium, of course] and I think somebody made a mistake. I'm planning to make an edit there, so if anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.
In any case, I added data on fair and foul territory to the Memorial Coliseum page. That was, of course, an extreme case of huge foul territory on the third base side, tiny fair territroy in left field, huge fair territory in right field, and tiny foul territory on the first base side.
For the record, the Dolphin (Sun Life) Stadium diagrams have been revised, but only a true fanatic would notice. The entry portals in the upper deck have been moved back about five feet (two rows), and the covered "mini-dugouts" for pitchers in the bullpens are now shown.
Last Friday (the 17th) five Nationals players signed contracts, thereby avoiding the arbitration process. Ross Detwiler, Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina, and Tyler Clippard signed one-year contracts, and Craig Stammen agreed to a two-year contract worth $2.25 million. All of those players have proven to be very reliable and helped win a number of games in the memorable 2012 season. Jordan Zimmermann is seeking a bit more than the team offered, but they are expected to arrive at a deal. Desmond's salary is said to be $3.8 million, a nice chunk of change which he richly deserves after hitting 25 home runs last year. MLB.com. General Manager Mike Rizzo said they are considering extended contracts with Desmond and Zimmermann.
Speaking of the Nationals, tomorrow is "Nats Fest" in Washington, and I'm thinking about attending. If so, it would be my first time at that annual winter event. Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Gio Gonzalez, and many other players are expected to be there. Natitude!
Hall of Fame slugger Stan "The Man" Musial passed away last week at the age of 92. He played his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals, from 1941 to 1963, interrupted by one year of military service (1945) in World War II. During those 22 years, he amassed an amazing lifetime batting average of .331, with 3,630 hits and 475 home runs. He was one of the best left-handed sluggers of all time, if not the best. But beyond that, he was a modest gentleman who inspired genuine affection and devotion from team mates and fans alike. In the 1940s, he made St. Louis proud to be one of the real powerhouse cities in all of baseball. Two years ago he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, a very fitting tribute. To read some glowing tributes to Musial from Bob Costas, Tony LaRussa, Albert Pujols, Bud Selig, and others, see MLB.com.
I was just old enough to be paying attention to baseball in Musial's final year, and I vaguely remember my father talking about him when Musial retired in 1963. In fact, he saw Musial play in the 1944 World Series -- all games of which were played in St. Louis! (It was the Cardinals against the Browns.)
By coincidence, former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver died within 24 hours of Musial's passing. During the 17 seasons he managed for the Orioles, the lovably cantankerous foot-stomper had a .583 winning percentage, with 1,480 victories, the 22nd highest total in history. He was 82 years old. See MLB.com. You might say that he played a similar role as Musial did in leading the team of a medium-size city to greatness beyond its size. The Orioles used to be the St. Louis Browns until they moved to Baltimore in 1954; that's an odd parallel with the passing of the greatest star from St. Louis.
For those who never had a chance to see Earl Weaver in action, like I did, and for those who want to remember, here's a good You Tube video, courtesy of The Church of Baseball on Facebook: "Earl Weaver Is Not Happy", when he was ejected by umpire Bill Haller. Weaver was bragging that he was going to be in the Hall of Fame, not exactly modest.