With the caveat that early architectural renderings rarely if ever give us a great sense of what the final product will actually look like and feel like — and with the caveat that the vagueness of early renderings often gives the place an overly-idealized version of the final product — the Atlanta Journal Constitution gives us early architectural renderings of the new Braves park:
More pics here.
Kudos for what appears to be greater shade/sun-protection measures in those big panels up top. Demerits for what appears to be four or five distinct decks. The Braves are saying the park will hold only 41,500 people which is not crazy, but it does seem a tad overbuilt. If the idea is to have fewer rows in each section, OK, but in the post-pillar age, every row up means going back a little bit, so I wonder how groundbreaking this really is. I guess we won’t know until we can sit in the actual seats up high.
My bigger observation is that t just looks kinda generic. Is there new room for something — anything — that looks architecturally inspired as opposed to merely functional? The Braves are owned by a big corporation and these renderings look like the profit of a bunch of meetings in which everyone fought hard not to offend anyone else. Nothing is going to please everyone, but something bold would be neat. Not that Braves have ever gone for anything particularly bold.
Obviously things could change, but this is sorta underwhelming, even if it’ll almost certainly be a fine place to watch a ballgame.
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.