June 25, 2020
Just last week, hopes for baseball in 2020 were hanging by a thread, after the MLB Players Association head Tony Clark turned down (on June 13) the owners' proposed 72 games at 70% prorated salary. He said there was no further point to any further discussion, and indeed the owners fourth and final offer (60 games with 16 teams in an expanded postseason) was rejected almost immediately on Monday. But now it seems we are going to have a real baseball season this year after all. One month from today, more or less, according to the plan announced by Commissioner Manfred on Monday and accepted by the players on Tuesday, MLB games will resume. Is our long national nightmare really almost over?
So, in case you haven't read a complete account of the plan, here are the essentials, as reported by the Washington Post:
I suppose any baseball is better than no baseball at all, but this framework will be hard to get used to. Many very strange situations will be created, no doubt. Is it possible that fans could attend on a limited basis after a few weeks? Last month I suggested a staggered seating arrangement, reducing stadiums' capacity to about 40 percent of normal, but at this point we'll be lucky if they allow even 25 percent of the seats to be filled. And why will it take a full month to get ready for Opening Day? Three weeks ought to be plenty.
Most importantly, why in the world did it take so long to get to this point? Baseball fans have endured agonizing uncertainty for over 100 days, and a number of lukewarm fans may lose interest, as was the case after the 1994 players' strike. Why did the players consent to a plan so soon after turning down a proposal that would have been -- from what I can tell -- more advantageous to their side? Something just doesn't add up, but I suppose it has more to do with maintaining a good public image than any concrete benefits. The players seem to have "won" the PR battle, for whatever that's worth.
It's a shame that the Washington Nationals weren't able to unfurl their championship banner and do the World Series ring ceremony as scheduled this year. When those events do finally take place, it will be in a "virtual" setting, televised but otherwise out of the fans' sight. After all they went through to reach the pinnacle of baseball success, the Nats players were robbed of the reward of sharing the joy with 40,000+ cheering fans. What's more, some of their senior players such as Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick may not return after their contracts expire at the end of this season. I thought about that sad possibility when I saw Ryan's image on the wall of the northeast parking garage at Nationals Park when I drove past it yesterday. Chain link fences surrounded the whole stadium, and it didn't look like the team store was open.
Since I missed the first four months of this awful year, blog-wise, it will take some effort to even get partly caught up with other "normal" baseball news items. All I can say is that I'm doing my best, under trying circumstances. Here is a modest example of what I have been working on, but there's more to come soon:
Thanks to a photo posted on Facebook by photographer Bob Busser, I made a slight correction to the outfield fence in the Exhibition Stadium diagrams, former home of the Toronto Blue Jays. (I actually completed the work ten days ago, hence the discrepancy between the indicated date of the update and today's date.) The power alleys are a few feet shorter, and the total estimated amount of fair territory is now 106,700 square feet, or 600 less than the previous estimate of 107,300 square feet. There is also another profile in the diagram, showing the grandstand behind home plate, where the press boxes and luxury suites were. Additional details include the pitchers mounds and plates in the bullpens, and the zig-zag ramps leading up to the entries along the sides of the roofed portion of the grandstand in left field. The text now mentions that the "dugouts" were actually at ground level, i.e., not dug out. Exhibition Stadium was one of nine stadiums with such a characteristic that I listed on May 31 last year.
While I wasn't paying attention in January, the Atlanta Braves announced that their semi-new home in Cobb County, Georgia has been renamed Truist Park. following the merger of SunTrust Bank and BB&T Bank which resulted in the creation of "Truist Bank." (See the Stadium names chronology page.)
Now that baseball is almost guaranteed to be played, the Texas Rangers' new home (Globe Life Field) will officially open next month. That's enough time for me to finish the diagram(s).
The center field fence at Marlins Park has been moved in by about ten feet, and the former grass surface has been replaed by artificial turf. So I added a slightly modified new diagram to that page. See
The installation of artificial turf in Miami plus the new stadium in Arlington, Texas means that the number of MLB ballparks lacking genuine grass has risen from three to five this year. For 13 years (from 2010 through 2018) there were only two such ballparks, and for a while it seemed possible that the Toronto Blue Jays might put real grass in the Rogers Centre. Such as not to be. The Turf page has been updated accordingly.