Petco Park will be a little less pitcher friendly when it begins its ninth season of play in 2013. The Padres announced Monday that they’d bring the right field wall in 11 feet and shorten the distances from home plate to right center from 402 feet to 391 and from home to left-center from 402 feet to 390.
Petco has been viewed as baseball’s toughest park for hitters since it opened in 2004, and it’s been especially tough on left-handers. Still, it’s hard to argue that it’s been a bad thing for the Padres. It’s certainly helped them lure free agent pitchers who were hoping a year in San Diego could help them rebuild their value. And while free agent hitters have stayed away, it’s not as though the Padres were ever interested in spending the money to lure big names anyway.
In eight years in Petco, the Padres have gone to the postseason twice, won at least 87 games four times and lost 90 games just twice. They’ve had a payroll over $70 million just once in that span, and it was actually in their worst year: a 2008 season in which they went 63-99.
Still, today’s changes probably won’t radically change the way the ballpark plays. It figures to remain pitcher friendly, just not as much so as in the past.
Danny Picard of Boston Metro reports that, during Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday, a man claiming to be an Astros employee was removed by security. The man was in the media-credentialed area next to the Red Sox dugout but he did not have media credentials. He was, however, using a small camera and texting frequently. When the man was taken away from the area, an Astros staffer tried to intervene, saying he was authorized to be in the area. Security did not buy the story, so the man was not allowed to return to that area but was allowed to remain in the ballpark.
This wasn’t the first time security had been made aware of the man. Apparently the same man had been up to some shady business during the ALDS against the Indians as well, which means the Astros may have been cheating throughout the postseason.
Representatives from all three teams have thus far opted not to comment on the matter. MLB chief communciations officer Pat Courtney said in an email on Tuesday, “We are aware of the matter and it will be handled internally.”
Teams, especially nowadays, are paranoid in the postseason about sign-stealing, so they’re always doing their due diligence to make sure their signs are secure. Sign-stealing is part of the gamesmanship of baseball. Players and coaches are, obviously, allowed to use their eyes, ears, and mouths to communicate about opposing teams’ signs. They’re not allowed to use any kind of technology, including cameras and cell phones. The Astros thought they could get away with this and they were wrong. Even if MLB’s look into the matter doesn’t result in anything, the Astros’ recent and upcoming accomplishments may be looked at with a raised eyebrow.