Thursday, May 28, 2009

10 comments Two For One Thursday: Taking Out Vendettas

Wallace Matthews has been bitching about Citi Field since it opened back in April. He has two topics he tends to write about every week. He writes about Alex Rodriguez and how much anything affiliated with the Mets sucks. The fact Major League Baseball has begun using instant replay to determine whether a called home run is a home run or not, thereby making sure all the calls made by the umpires are correct, does not stop Wallace from railing against these newfangled ballparks.

Gary Sheffield, standing on first base, thought he was watching a home run and decided a light jog would be sufficient.

I have watched Gary Sheffield play baseball for many years now and even if this was not a home run, the odds are good he still would have decided a light jog would have been sufficient. Instead of the mascot, the team should have him race a small child around the bases between innings with Sheffield going full speed, and the small child would win everytime.

The fans sitting above the facing where the ball is said to have hit were certain it did not. The fans sitting below were positive that it did.

The umpires weren't sure what they were seeing and so retired to another room to watch a replay.

Well, we can't have the fans and umpires disagreeing on home run calls. That would be un-American.

Wallace is getting ready to start bitching that Citi Field makes it hard to know what is a home run and what is not. He hates the quirks of the stadium. MLB has instant replay to determine whether a ball hit is a foul ball, home run or ground rule double and it seems to be working effectively. I don't know why he believes this is a massive problem at Citi Field.

He should be thankful he doesn't cover NBA and college basketball, because nobody knows exactly what a charge is when it happens and somehow players under the basket can get hammered and there is no call, while a touch foul on the perimeter is consistently called a foul at the same time (last night Nene got hammered on a layup and then there was a perimeter touch foul...I know I sound like Bill Simmons but it irritates me, but not nearly as much as the charge calls in college basketball). I have watched college basketball for many years and I still have no idea what is a charge and what is not. Every college referee seems to have a different standard for a charge.

Sorry to digress...back to Wallace's bitching about the quirks of the stadium.

"It was a very difficult call,'' said second base umpire Larry Vanover, the crew chief. "We took all the information from the crew consultation and from the replay and that's how we came up with our answer. When you look at the replay, you can see the ball does disappear in the yellow sign and it does change direction."

So to be clear, the right call was made? Great, we can move on now. Wallace commence to talking about Alex Rodrigu---

And that's what happens when you try to force the issue, when you throw in quirks for the sake of quirks, when you add artificially-engineered nostalgia into what could have been a perfectly good, if conventional ballpark.

Yes, that is what happens when you insist on not putting up a cookie cutter baseball park. It confuses the hell out of people like Wallace Matthews. When you start moving the bases around, putting homeplate in the press box and the outfield fences actually outside the ballpark in the parking lot. Madness!

I will admit that some of the new quirks to the ballparks are a bit much, and I have not visited Citi Field, but it seems like the only real questions that can be posed in relation to a game there is whether a ball hit is a home run or not, and if not, what the correct call is, and instant replay can take care of that issue pretty easily.

You knew that sooner or later, one of the many silly contrivances the Mets built into their new ballpark was going to intrude on the game.

Do you know what silly contrivance intrudes on the game the most? The fans watching the game.

Should we get rid of them as well?

You didn't know if it would be those dangerous, half-walls built way too close to the foul lines in left and right, which some day soon will claim a player charging after a pop fly as he tumbles onto the concrete.

Which are so much more dangerous than the concrete barriers that surround the ballpark separating the fans from the action, where a player can actually fly into the stands, with those watching the game, and injure them or himself. How about the incredibly hard walls that surround the outfield and have caused multiple concussions and knee injuries to those ball players that crash into them? Those are two structures that have caused injuries, but apparently Wallace has no problem with those. Also a line drive off a player's bat can injure a pitcher or ruin his career. It's not just these "contrivances" at Citi Field that can cause injuries on the field.

The result? A player can run into anything on the field, and they have in the past, these half built walls may ultimately be safer than running into a wall or the stands for a fly ball. At least they will flip over the barrier and not run head-on into it. Let's not disturb Wallace with logic though.

Or the too-short foul poles that are prime targets for a ball to fly directly over, sparking what will no doubt be a heated debate. Home run? Or long strike?

He is bitching about how long the foul poles are...fine, they are too short, instant replay can take care of finding out if they are home runs or long strikes. It takes what, two minutes? Or the equivalent of two pitches in a playoff game.

Or if it would be that ridiculous bay window some genius thought would be a good idea to cut into rightfield, the so-called Mo Zone where the wall suddenly jogs out for 12 feet or so, inviting the kind of carom of which inside-the-park home runs are born.

Not inside the park homeruns! Those overly used cheap contrivances that try to resemble an actual homerun? We need to get rid of those poseurs quickly. Who wants more inside the park home runs, they are only one of the most exciting plays in all of baseball. I am getting pumped up thinking about it right now.

Seriously, is it not exciting to see a guy round third base knowing he is going for an inside the park home run? Wallace hates these, as well as kittens, and most life saving procedures for the elderly.

No, this time, it was the rightfield porch, a needless contrivance that juts 8 feet into fair territory, a controversy just waiting to happen.

It does set the ballpark apart from other ballparks. I hate cookie cutter ballparks and though some of the contraptions may seem a bit stupid (the hill in Houston), I am not going to criticize them for being creative. Do you know what else juts into fair territory? The roof of a stadium, maybe we should require all teams to not have a roof on their stadiums. Of course, then how would the Twins turn on fans when they are at bat in the World Series to give their team that extra edge? It wouldn't work as well then (I am kidding Twins fans...).

Murphy's shot, which in a normal ballpark might well have been caught on the warning track, apparently ticked the fascia of the right-field porch on its way down.

Murphy's shot, which could have also been a home run in a normal ballpark, was called a home run. I wonder if Wallace realizes the dimensions of every stadium in MLB has different dimensions? A ball hit in Florida may not be a home run if the same ball is hit in Petco Park. For some reason this doesn't bother him.

On this occasion, the two-run homer gave the home team a lead it would never give back. On another night, it may work in reverse.

It may, and that is the risk a team takes when building any field. Usually the home team learns how to play a ballpark's caroms and alleys due to playing there more than the visiting team, so it turns into a homefield advantage. I am not saying Mets players will aim for the right field porch but I am saying I would imagine it is going to work to their advantage much more than against.

Even though I come from a generation in which the ballgame, not the "ballpark experience,'' was the event, I can live with all the distracting and gimmicky little touches the Mets forced into their new park.

Yes, two of the oldest fields in baseball, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, they have zero gimmicky touches. It's not like one park has ivy growing on the walls of the outfield with a brick wall behind it and the other has a massive green wall in left field, along with a wall in centerfield that feels like it is 500 feet from homeplate. No gimmicks or distractions there.

That's what makes them memorable and makes me want to visit these stadiums. Am I dying to go to Arlington Stadium anytime soon? No, but I would like to go to Fenway and Wrigley. Wallace wants all ballparks to look like they are clones of each other.

But there is no excuse for the ballpark to become the story or affect the outcome of the game. The ballpark is supposed to provide the playing surface and then get the hell out of the way.

I agree, but it can't always be that way. The world is supposed to be perfect and we should all be given plenty of money to live off and eat popsicles with our family at 5:30pm every day while watching television together on a pillowy cloud, but that can't happen either.

Last night, the park helped the Mets win one, and everybody went home happy, if a little bit confused.What happens on the nights it works the other way around?

The Apocalypse.

-Jay Mariotti continues his vendetta against the Cubs and the world in general.

I'm actually a hopeful guy at heart, confident we'll one day have an economic recovery, peace on earth and better late-night TV from Jimmy Fallon.

No, you are an asshole. This is well documented.

But my faith in humankind never has extended to the Cubs. Let me lay this out right here: They won't win another World Series in our lifetime

I don't know Jay, I am in my late 20's, I exercise and eat a steady diet of yogurt combined with Jalepeno Popper Doritos and Cheez-Its, I think I have a solid 25 more years left and I think the Cubs could squeak one World Series through at some point in that time span. Maybe not your lifetime, because you have had a heart attack already, so clearly God hates you.

This begs for a snarling, spitting, belly-bumping tantrum by manager Lou Piniella, who went bonkers in June 2007 and saw the Cubs use it as an emotional turning point in a division-title season. But here's the rub: His wife, Anita, won't let her hubbie throw bases or fits anymore at 65,

Yes, I am sure the fact Pinella doesn't throw hissy fits anymore can completely be attributed to his wife. It has nothing to do with the fact he is 65 years old and might be afraid if he gets too angry he would drop dead right there on the field with second base in his dead cold hands.

If he misses the playoffs, I can't imagine him returning to an impossible situation where anything but a World Series title is considered failure.

I would normally defer to Jay on this issue, because I have never lived in Chicago, but Cubs fans seem pretty happy with a playoff series win or a World Series least the ones that I have met. Of course they want to win the World Series, but I don't think they strike me as the most demanding fan base in baseball, like Jay wants them portrayed.

Then there's Milton Bradley, who has brought nothing but poison to the Friendly Confines and threatens to spoil the good vibes that have pervaded Wrigley the last two seasons. Only Bradley, who should be accompanied by a shrink 24/7, still can carry a grudge in late May about an umpiring spat that happened on April 16. Paranoid as ever, he thinks all major league umpires are conspiring against him in defense of their colleague, Larry Vanover, whose ejection of Bradley led to a two-game suspension that was reduced to one game by Major League Baseball. Ancient news? Not to Moody Milton, who believes the umps have been widening their strike zones when he's batting. Oh, that's why he's hitting .196 with five homers and 13 RBI for his $30 million.

Larry Vanover is also responsible for the home run call in the Wallace Matthews article I just discussed. He's a real troublemaker isn't he?

This is the part where Jay Mariotti, now a NATIONAL columnist for AOL, takes out all his frustrations with the world on the Cubs because he is an asshole. You can take the asshole out of Chicago, but you can't the Chicago hatred out of the asshole.

One issue is the deterioration of Derrek Lee, who hit 46 home runs four years ago, into a glorified singles hitter. Another issue is Aramis Ramirez, a dangerous hitter who can't stay healthy. Then there's the maddeningly streaky Alfonso Soriano, who is striking out like a fiend and remains misplaced as a leadoff man. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year, catcher Geovany Soto, is hitting .214 with one homer.

Good luck with that. When Bradley's persecution complex is cranked up to 10, everyone else is to blame: fans, media, umps, you name it. At Wrigley, where fans are especially rowdy on summer nights, an expensive player who isn't performing becomes a target. I can just picture a beer cup coming his way in right field and Bradley trying to climb the ivy-covered walls to chase the fan.

No one can ever accuse Jay Mariotti of forgetting to be a jerk and forgetting the past and those that he doesn't like.

Know how dismal things have been on the North Side? When 5-foot-11, 175-pound shortstop Ryan Theriot started the season with five homers, a semi-senile local columnist angered the Cubs by suggesting Theriot should be a steroids suspect.

A quick Google search revealed Jay was talking about Rick Telander and this article. Telander never had a good relationship with Jay Mariotti and was publicly glad that he quit his job for the Chicago paper. Can Jay be a big man about this and just think, "we can't all get along, so I will let this drop." Well, hell no he can't. He takes time out of his busy life writing shitty columns to demean Telander's column.

This was a reckless way to make a point, even in an attempt to be facetious about the Steroid Era, and what a shame that a rare triumph in an otherwise flimsy offensive season is ridiculed.

All of a sudden this dickless prick is taking the high road on the steroids issue. If Jay Mariotti were still writing for a Chicago paper, he would have written that article about Theriot before Telander could. They may even have had an argument over who could write the article. Jay would never pass up a chance to write an article ripping into someone.

Jay baits people into arguments and constantly will try to up the ante in the anger department, then when things get too heated he backs away and goes into hiding for a month. He prefers to sit behind his computer and type out insults and never face those he insults or attempts to demean with his words.

If nothing else, maybe the fans won't have to wait until October to be devastated this time.

Another Mariotti burn!

I will let Roger Ebert sum up how everyone feels about Jay Mariotti:

You owed us decency. The fact that you saved your attack for TV only completes our portrait of you as a rat...You were a great shouter in print, that's for sure, stomping your feet when owners, coaches, players and fans didn't agree with you. It was an entertaining show...On your way out, don't let the door bang you on the ass.

I am having slight Bill Simmons withdrawal, I am hoping he will put something up today or tomorrow.


AJ said...

I agree with the Sheffield comment, the guy never seems to try hard. He should have used someone else as an example.

I'm not sure I understand this part: "artificially-engineered nostalgia "...well to me every single stadium is artificaially engineered. I don't see any teams playing their games inside the Grand Canyan (you know, something natural made by Earth).

Balls fly over the foul poll all the time, I don't see any issues with this. It happens, its part of the game.

You know another stadium from his generation? Tiger Stadium...and you know the distinct feature of that stadium? You guessed it, a right field upper deck that extended past the lower deck in fair play (sounds exactly like the new Mets stadium, doesnt it?). The stadium was notorious for it, and for having the flag poll inside the fence in centerfield.

You know what else I was thinking...all those HR's that are hit in Coors Field probably wouldn't be HRs in other places...I think they should tear it down.

Bengoodfella said...

I don't think Sheffield is lazy or anything but he does have a tendency to not hustle and when he thinks a home run has been hit he tends to stand around a bit at the plate. Of all the guys who have hit 4th behind Chipper, I think he was one of my favorite (even though they had to almost duel to the death for the 3 spot in the batting order) but he did not run out every ground ball.

I missed that part about the artificially engineered nostalgia. Maybe he is talking about the Jackie Robinson dedicated part of the park. I don't know.

I don't think Wallace is really worried about the foul poles, he was just stretching to bitch about something the Mets did wrong. The balls are going over the foul pole no matter where you play, its not like Citi Field is the only place that has this happen.

I actually edited the part I wrote about Tiger Stadium out because I could not remember if the RF upper deck extended far enough out over the lower deck and was too lazy to look it up. Wasn't the old Tiger Stadium also huge? If so, I am surprised he doesn't think the large dimensions made a mockery of the game.

Yes, tear down Coors Field and we should also tear down every other stadium that doesn't look like a "normal" stadium should look. I personally like little bizarre features of a park that set the park apart from others...within reason of course.

ivn said...

did Wallace Matthews really use as his example a guy who admitted to deliberately making errors in order to force a trade?

and I may be wrong here but isn't Matthews more of a Yankees guy anyway? I'm not surprised he'd pick on the Mets' homefield. I could be mistaken though

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, I am not sure if he is a Yankees guy or not. I thought he may be a Mets guy because he is so hard on them but I could be wrong.

Sheffield is not the best example to use of players who did not hustle because he thought it was going to be a home run. Wallace doesn't care though because he wants everyone to know he hates the Mets ballpark, which is stupid. I don't get why he hates ballparks that have quirks.

KentAllard said...

Before the "sterile ashtray" era of stadium construction, all ballparks had quirks. Crosley Field had a terraced outfield, and in some places right field would be 40 feet closer to home than vice versa. Fans used to embrace the oddities, and teams built themselves around them. A team in a small ballpark acquired sluggers, one in a huge park needed outfield speed. The era he's nostalgic for is the aberration. And more homeruns are hit the higher the park is above sea level, so fuck topography, too.

Bengoodfella said...

Whenever I am playing a baseball on video game, I always want to choose an old school park because they were so interesting. There was one field, Shibe Park, which had some crazy awesome dimensions. They changed the dimensions in 1954 but Jimmie Foxx hit a lot of his homeruns there, which was amazing considering you weren't hitting the ball out of the park if you hit it to centerfield. It's one of the reasons I think he is so underrated as a slugger compared to others.

Ebbets Field even had crazy dimensions to it. I personally love ballparks that have quirks to them.

KentAllard said...

I even liked the freaky wind at Candlestick. It was nice that it was different from the other parks. Not so nice for the freezing fans or frustrated players, of course.

Bengoodfella said...

I am sure the players did not like it all that much but I did like the crazy wind there. It made watching a pop up actually interesting. Again, the fans probalby did not like the cold temperatures. My point is that ballparks with some odd nuances are great in my opinion.

Martin said...

Christ, had to listen to sheff bitch on the radio yesterday about how he had to play firstbase for the Yankees.

"My wrist wasn't healed, but if I wanted to play, that was the only spot for me at the time. Having to catch all those throws never let me heal up, and it was hard for me."

I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. You have to add the "Oh woe is me, always put upon by everybody" Sheffield voice on it to make it a true whine-fest.

Hey Gary, how about understanding the fact that swinging a bat, espescially waving it around like you do in the box, and check swinging is going to do FAR more damage to your wrist then catching 15 balls thrown to you a game at firstbase.

He's such a freaking self-righteous pudknocker he should be called Peter King.

Bengoodfella said...

All Sheffield needs is something to bitch about and he is happy. What the hell position did he want to play? DH? 3B? OF? He has played about every position at some point and hated them all...ok, maybe not them all.

I forget who it was that made sign with the Yankees...oh yeah, no-freaking-body did. He chose to take their money. Great point about the waving of the bat, that's can't be good for the old wrists.