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Taking Back the Ballparks . . . at least in name

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Over at Baseball Think Factory and at his own website — a longtime web acquaintance of mine has announced a fun little campaign to informally rename all 30 big league ballparks.

The idea: just because some company called “Guaranteed Rate” paid the White Sox a lot of money to give them naming rights doesn’t mean that we’re bound to call the park in which they play that silly name. Same with Chase and the Diamondbacks or any other corporate entity. Sure, if we identify them in a legal document we’re obligated to use the legal name, but there is nothing obligating us to give these businesses free advertising via our daily conversation about baseball.

So he’s asking for nominations for alternative, non-corporate names:

Both here, and at my primary home for online baseball activity, Baseball Think Factory, we’re going to establish new names, or at least validate the old ones, for all 30 ballparks. If you think Houston can do better than Minute Maid Park (and who doesn’t?), then let’s find a better name for the joint. Or, if you think the park at Clark and Addison can be known as nothing but Wrigley, that’s cool too.

I’ll introduce a new team, and solicit suggestions for a new name for the team’s ballpark. Perhaps the park is located adjacent to an interesting geographic feature of its host city, or near the site of an important event in history. Maybe there’s an interesting baseball connection, either with the home team or a ballplayer from the past. A significant local industry might have called that area of the city home at one point in time. I’m looking for the kind of name that will be unique to its home city, and one that can stand the test of time.

Some parks — Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, Fenway and Wrigley — could never be anything else, of course, even if the origin of the name was commercial. It’s also worth allowing that some corporate names are better than others. If the park — like Citi Field or Sun Trust Park — had never existed without a different name, sure, it has as good a claim as anything else. But can we not agree that Shea Stadium II or Henry Aaron Park would be better?

It’s a fun thought exercise if nothing else. If you feel like exercising your thoughts along these lines, go submit some nominations. They’ll eventually be narrowed down and voted upon.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.