Tag: High Jump

Diamondbacks Considering Changes to Chase Field

In an article first reported by Nick Piecoro, the Diamondbacks beat writer for the Arizona Republic, team officials admitted they are considering changes to Chase Field that would change the way the stadium plays.

It is no secret that Chase Field has long been a hitter’s paradise. The ball seems to fly out of Chase Field faster than a four-dollar beer on a 110-degree afternoon game.

And if the roof happens to be open, the ball flies even further, averaging roughly 10 more feet of flight.

This is not a new phenomenon; hitters have always had an advantage at Chase Field.

The reasons have been attributed to the high elevation, thin warm air, and low humidity typical of a summer day in Arizona.

Few people realize that Chase Field is actually the second highest elevation ballpark in Major League Baseball behind only Coors Field in Denver. The air pressure is less dense as altitude increases giving the ball less wind resistance than a ball hit at sea level.

Temperature also plays a factor in the way the ball carries. A typical summer day in Arizona will see temperatures well over 100 degrees. Even with the roof closed and air conditioning, the temperatures are in the high 80’s in the air above the playing surface.

While no one is attributing the air conditioning to how the ball flies, you have to wonder what effect it has. The majority of the air conditioning vents are at the back of the seating areas.

With most of the seating areas behind the plate and down the lines, this means the air conditioning is blowing out to the outfield.

Common sense would suggest this would be similar to the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Perhaps not as brisk as wind blowing towards Lake Michigan, but it should still be a factor adding a few feet to the travel of the ball.

So if the field has been hitter-friendly for the past 13 years, why consider changes now? Diamondbacks CEO/President Derrick Hall suggested the team is being built on young pitching and defense.

If that is the case, why wouldn’t they want to make changes to the ballpark to protect the team’s strengths?

The suggested changes are interesting. One suggestion, which at first seems rather drastic, is modifying the playing field dimensions. The team is considering moving the left and right field fences back approximately 10 feet.

The right field fence would be rather easy to adjust to an extent. There is approximately 10 feet beyond the current outfield fence that is used for handicapped seating and as a walkway for those in the swimming pool area.

That space could be eliminated with the outfield fence now being the much taller bleacher fence. The swimming pool in right-center would be a problem.

Plans would be to leave the pool area undisturbed, making the field even more asymmetrical with a 10-foot jut-out now being in play.

Adjusting the left field fence would be more problematic. The team would have to remove five or six rows of seats in the left-field bleachers to move the wall back.

By removing the seats, it would reduce seating capacity and would also increase the height of the wall, since the remaining seats would start higher than the current front row of the bleacher.

The natural question to be asked is how many home runs are barely clearing the left and right field walls? A trip over to the great reference site Hit Tracker allows us to look at spray charts of where home runs have landed at Chase Field.

Looking at the graph for Chase Field for 2010 we can see changes to the left field bleachers could have a substantial effect on the number of home runs.

Several this season have landed in the first few rows which, with the fences extended, may have been long outs.

The 2010 graph is consistent with other seasons of data gathered by Hit Tracker, leading credence to Hall’s suggestion that home run totals could be significantly reduced with a minor change to the outfield walls.

The other suggested change was the installation of a humidor at Chase Field to store baseballs in a climate-controlled area until used in the game. The humidor would eliminate the effects of dry warm air on the baseball.

The use of a humidor is not new. The Colorado Rockies have been using such a device since 2002. The MLB Commissioner’s Office has studied the effects and were at one time considering instituting the use of a humidor at all stadiums.

In the past I’ve suggested using a humidor at Chase Field to level the playing field for pitchers as well as hitters. Some have claimed using a humidor to adjust characteristics of the ball is cheating.

I question that thinking. The temperature and humidity levels introduced with a humidor bring the ball into compliance with the conditions in place when the baseballs are manufactured.

It could be argued not using a humidor is cheating since teams are adapting the baseball to local conditions rather than what the ball was designed and developed to operate.

All of these measures are designed to eliminate the advantages of the hitter at Chase Field. While I applaud the team’s thinking, I wonder whether these changes would have a positive effect for the team.

Neutralizing the field would mean less home runs and fewer runs generated by both the opposing team and the home team.

When a team is winning, that may not be a bad thing since the stands tend to be fuller when the team is having a winning season.

But what about years such as this season and last when the team is playing sub-par baseball? What then? Would fans be winning to sit through a losing season when the home team is unable to score and there are fewer home runs?

If 1998, taught us anything it is that the casual baseball fan loves to see home runs. Even in cases where a team is losing game after game, if they can see someone hit a bomb that flies 480 feet to regions of the stadium thought untouchable, it breeds excitement.

Perhaps the Diamondbacks should consider incremental changes when adjusting the playability of Chase Field.

Add the humidor and have instructional league games played at Chase Field with balls stored in the humidor and those not and gauge what effect it has on playability.

This may not be so drastic a change and yet still bring Chase Field into a more neutral range.

At the same time the minor league pitching staff needs to work with the Diamondbacks’ young pitchers to teach them how to keep the ball down in the strike zone, which would be a far cry from what we have seen this season.

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New York Yankees: Getting A.J. Burnett on Track

Everyone knows by now that A.J. Burnett is pitching terribly, leading to speculation that he, like Javier Vazquez, will be skipped in the rotation. Perhaps this will be the case, but it doesn’t seem like the solution for the Yankees or Burnett.

First off, would skipping a turn actually benefit Burnett? Obviously, I am not a pitching coach, but it doesn’t seem like AJ’s velocity has been down (like the case was with Javy) or he’s been overworked. If some extra rest is really what he needs, then it’s a no-brainer—skip him once and see what happens.

Otherwise though, the Yankees have too much invested in Burnett to let him sit in the bullpen. Unlike Vazquez, Burnett is under contract for three more seasons. Also, the playoffs are a little over a month away, and it’s hard to imagine the Yankees going deep into them without him. Presumably Burnett will still be taking up a roster spot no matter what, so isn’t the best solution just to run him out there and have a shorter leash with him and bring in Sergio Mitre as soon as it’s clear Burnett doesn’t have it?

We all know by now that AJ is the type of pitcher who can be dominant and tends to go in streaks. However, if he’s not allowed to pitch, there is no chance he’ll ever straighten things out. Being in a pennant race complicates matters, but it’s not like there is some can’t-miss pitcher waiting in the wings.

They had one young arm who was ready, and that’s Ivan Nova and he’s already up. Putting Vazquez back in the rotation in favor of Burnett just makes the Yankee rotation start to look like a game of musical chairs—whoever is the last one to have a bad start gets skipped.

Also, Phil Hughes will be having his workload cut down in September and really it’s his innings that Nova should be replacing—not Vazquez or Burnett.

On a slightly related note, all of this really makes me wonder what the long-term plan is for Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees went to great lengths last year to stretch him out as a starter, presumably so he could be a starter again in 2011 or 2012. With Kerry Wood, Boone Logan, and David Robertson throwing important innings out of the bullpen, the Yankees could have stretched Joba out a bit and let him take a couple starts down the stretch.

At this point, there are likely way too many moving parts to try and make Joba a starter again this season, but I am still surprised that throughout the year he has made so few appearances of longer than one inning. I have to wonder if the Yankees could go back and do it again, if they would have kept Joba as a starter, even if that meant him starting the season in the minors.

Getting back to the current rotation though, there are no options in the minors or on the waiver-wire that are going to necessarily be more effective than AJ Burnett. The Yankees still have over a month to get him on track and that needs to be their focus.


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St. Louis Cardinals Fan Sporting a Parole Tracker Anklet at Busch Stadium

Heading out to the ballpark with a buddy can be a liberating experience, figuratively speaking.  Then again, for some, it can literally be liberating.

Take, for instance, the gentleman below who is proudly sporting a parole ankle bracelet around Busch Stadium this past week.  Nice.  Pre or post-incarceration, best fans in baseball, baby.


Truth be told, we were really hoping to find *some* morsel of the color blue on this fellow, so we could predictably accuse him of being a Cub fans.  Throw in the added possibility of “crossing state borders while on parole”, and there’s a strong possibility that JoeSportsFan racks up our first fan-hunting sting.  That would have been resume-worthy.

Alas, given that miscreant’s compadre is wearing red, we’re pegging him as a Cardinal fan.  Who the hell knows though, really.  At this stage in his life, he’s probably less concerned with team allegiance and more excited about showers without presumed sodomy.

It’s tough to say.

Special thanks to local fan hunter, Jimmy D, for sending this puppy in.  He could have been killed.

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