Bud Black: “there’s room to talk” about moving the fences in at Petco Park

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I’m hesitant to say that Padres manager Bud Black would like the fences to be moved in, because it seems from the article that the subject was brought up by reporters — and has been so brought up multiple times recently — and that Black was trying to be a bit coy with respect to his true feelings.

But hey, when has my hesitation to say anything stopped me before? It sounds like Bud Black wants the fences moved in at Petco Park:

On Monday, Bud Black was asked what his stance was on moving in the PETCO Park fences.

“I think there’s room for discussion,” Black said, choosing his words carefully before taking a long pause and repeating himself. “I just think there’s room to talk about it in our park.”

Black didn’t expand on what he said, but he hasn’t been one to typically discuss the park’s dimensions, even to that extent.

This kind of talk always depresses me.  The park is the park and both the home team and the visiting team have to play in it.  It if depresses offense, hey, it helps pitching, and that’s something that has benefited the Padres in recent years. And, as has been mentioned before, the benefits could be more than merely turning a few bad pitches into fly outs instead of homers. It could help San Diego on the business side as they are able to court pitchers in need of a career rejuvenation to relatively low-dollar one-year deals that a lot of teams would love. Jon Garland anyone? Aaron Harang?

For the rest of us: variety is the spice of life. There were so many small parks built in the past 20 years that it’s nice to have a couple that play big.  Leave Petco alone!

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.