I mentioned earlier that I’m going up to the Cleveland-Minnesota game tonight. Some people asked me why on Earth I would do that. Well (a) it’s baseball and baseball is wonderful; and (b) there’s some to-do afoot tonight regarding Jim Thome.
Specifically, the Indians will honor Thome with a special ceremony, complete with a presentation (I’m guessing it’s a sack of ‘taters) and a video tribute. Former Tribe manager Mike Hargrove will be there. So will Thome’s old salad days teammates Sandy Alomar, Jr., Carlos Baerga, Paul Sorrento and Chad Ogea (one of these things, is not like the others … one of these things just doesn’t belong …). Word on the street is that Albert Belle will be there if they can find that Hannibal Lecter straight jacket/face mask/hand truck setup before game time. If Manny Acta had any sense of the occasion he’d put Thome in at third base.
In addition, all fans will receive a Jim Thome 600 HR commemorative poster. Which is actually damn cool. There will also be a fireworks show “synchronized to Alternative Rock … which will also pay tribute to Jim Thome and his 600 HR milestone.” Which may be damn cool or may be the most ridiculous thing ever. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.
I’ll be in the Tribe Social Suite with the other blogger and social media-types, but if anyone else plans to be at the game, drop a line in the comments or on Twitter or to my email or something and we can try to meet up at some point during or after the game. Because really, no one should watch a Jim Thome-themed Alternative Rock fireworks show by themselves.
The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.
Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?
As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.
Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.
Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.
A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.
I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.
That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.