December 26, 2013 [LINK / comment]

Catching up with baseball

Let's see, where were we? Oh yes, the World Series! The last time I updated this blog was on October 10, just as the league championship series were about to begin. Busy, busy, busy! That would be putting it mildly. Fortunately, I'll be back to a more normal work schedule in the spring semester.

Dodgers, Tigers last six games in LCS

The lower-seeded teams in the League Championship Series just couldn't quite make it to a full seven games. The Dodgers bounced back after losing the first two games of the NLCS in St. Louis, winning two of three games in Los Angeles. But the Cardinals won Game 6 by a lopsided 9-0 margin, thus taking the NL pennant. It would have been the Dodgers' first trip to the World Series since 1988.

Likewise, the Detroit Tigers won Game 1 of the ALCS in Fenway Park, but could only manage to win one of three games at home in Comerica Park, making it easy for the Red Sox to win Game 6 and thus take the AL pennant.

Red Sox beat the Red Birds, again

Obviously, Boston was strong this year. The city's die-hard spirit was revealed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing last April, and it seemed to help the Red Sox overcome all obstacles during the baseball regular season. Contrary to most people's expectations, they were simply dominant throughout the season, and this juggernaut momentum carried them right through October. The Cardinals surprised the Red Sox with a win at Fenway Park in Game 2, and then took a 2-1 series lead back home in St. Louis, but then the Red Sox won the next three games to seal the deal. That makes three World Series championships for the Red Sox in the past ten years, after eight decades of bitter frustration. Quite an amazing turnaround for that storied franchise!

World Series stadia

Customarily, I present diagrams of the home ballparks of the two World Series teams, for easy comparison. Last year, for example, it was Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and AT&T Park. This year, of course, it was Fenway Park and Busch Stadium (III). are both above-average in terms of outfield size, but otherwise have few similarities. So, just for the record, you can roll over the thumbnail images to switch between the respective full-size diagrams.

Fenway Park Busch Stadium III
Fenway Park

I've been working on diagram revisions of Fenway Park, and the inclusion of the entry portals has enabled me to get the placement of the gap between the bleachers and the grandstand a bit more accurate. There will also be minor revisions of Busch Stadium (III). Stay tuned!

Fenway Park visit

Speaking of to Fenway Park, another Clem paid a visit there last summer -- in this case my brother Chris. Hopefully I'll have time to finally see a game there myself next summer.

Fenway Park from RF corner

Fenway Park, from near Pesky's Pole down the first base side, August 27, 2013. Courtesy of Chris Clem. Roll mouse over to see a similar view (further back in the right field corner), circa 1996, taken by another member of the Clem Clan.

Mariano Rivera retires

One of the most poignant moments in baseball this year, and indeed for the past decade, was the retirement ceremony for longtime Yankees closing pitcher Mariano Rivera, a.k.a. "The Sandman." The Yankee teammates gave him a rocking chair to while away the hours. Brian Vangor took some photos of that ceremony, and I'll be posting some of them soon. Without Rivera, and especially without Robinson Cano (signed by the Minnesota Twins) next year, the Yankees will be a much different team.

Stadium demolition derby, 2014

Three former Major League Baseball stadiums are scheduled for Stadium demolition next year, and it was announced in November that another one may be in just a few years. All this news caught me a little off guard, and all of a sudden I realized that I might never get a chance to see two of those stadiums before they are gone forever.

In November, voters in the Houston area rejected a referendum that would have put public money into making the Astrodome into a convention center. That meant there is no hope for making use of that aging facility any time soon, so work crews began to demolish the circular exit ramps that were added to the exterior in 1988. How soon the rest of the stadium comes down is still undecided.

Astrodome, RR tracks

The Astrodome, just last week. In the background is Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans. Photo courtesy of Mark London.

As planned, the Minnesota Vikings played their last game in the Metrodome two Sundays ago, and that stadium will be torn down very quickly in next few months, to make way for the Vikings' new stadium. Speaking of which, I was informed by Keith Grinde two years ago (!) that the cut-out portion of the seats behind home plate has been filled in for football games since 1986, so I'll have to update the diagram to reflect that.

Metrodome football

The halftime ceremony during the last football game at the Metrodome, December 15. Photo courtesy of James Matthes.

Then comes creaky old Candlestick Park, where the San Francisco 49ers played what was probably their final game there last Sunday, pulling off an amazing last-minute play to beat the Arizona Cardinals. I'm not sure exactly when The Stick will be torn down, but I thought I heard they might wait until next fall. The 49ers' flashy new home in Santa Clara is almost completed.

Braves to leave Turner Field!?

But the strangest bit of stadium demolition news in recent weeks has been that the Atlanta Braves announced they are going to leave Turner Field, and Atlanta itself, unveiling a new stadium deal with Cobb County. The lease on Turner Field is for 20 years, extending through the 2016 season. If these reports are true, and not just a colossal scam for purposes of bargaining, the new stadium site would be about ten miles northwest of the city's downtown. Since Turner Field is only 16 years old, I find this hard to believe. Turner Field was in need of some kind of renovation (downsizing, especially), but it should have at least another 20 years of useful life. I don't know about the new stadium design, but the suburban location seems totally wrong to me. I'm sure it was a matter of which local government would offer the best financial terms, but the Braves could risk losing part of their fan base.

For more on this, see the Atlanta Journal-Constitution or, both of which have links to a video announcement by the Braves president. Hat tips to Scott Barry and Alex Peneton.

COMMENT by: AndrewG Clem, of Staunton, VA on Jan 01, 2014 16:05 PM
This blog post was a "rush job," just before my trip out to South Dakota to see my family, and not surprisingly it has a few errors I will correct next week. There was a more serious error that caused all my blog pages to crash from the stroke of midnight (new year) until a few minutes ago, but fortunately I was able to fix that remotely.