The benches cleared in Toronto, too

80 Comments

People are really angry this Sunday, it seems. The Reds and Pirates had a benches-clearing incident in Cincinnati, and so did the Blue Jays and Royals.

Royals starter Edinson Volquez hit Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson with a first-pitch fastball in the first inning. Donaldson didn’t like it, and glared at Volquez, but took his spot at first base. Volquez brushed Donaldson back with a first-pitch up-and-in fastball in the third inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, with a runner on second base and one out, Royals reliever Ryan Madson hit Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on the elbow with a 2-2 fastball, the seventh-pitch of the at-bat. Madson, on a 2-2 count against Donaldson, threw another fastball up-and-in, nearly hitting Donaldson in the head. Donaldson clearly wasn’t happy, nor was manager John Gibbons, who was ejected by home plate umpire Jim Wolf.

In the top of the eighth, Blue Jays reliever Aaron Sanchez threw a 2-0 fastball at the knees of Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. Wolf ejected Sanchez from the game. Blue Jays bench coach Demarlo Hale was also ejected. Then the benches cleared. Yodvano Ventura, who didn’t start, was clearly agitated, but his teammates held him back. In the end, it was a typical benches-clearing incident: just a lot of yelling. No one else was ejected. The Royals went on to lose 5-2.

Straight-away center field will be 385 feet at London Stadium

Getty Images
6 Comments

Marley Rivera of ESPN has a story about some of the on-field and in-game entertainment, as well as some aspects of the field conditions, for this weekend’s London Series.

The fun stuff: a mascot race, not unlike the Sausage Race at Miller Park or the President’s race at Nationals Park. The mascots for London: Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury, Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. I suppose that’s OK but, frankly, I’d go with Roger Bannister, Shakespeare, Charles Darwin and Guy Fawkes. Of course no one asks me these things.

There will also be a “Beat the Streak”-style race which had better use the theme to “Chariots of Fire” or else what the heck are we even doing here.

They’ve also taught ushers and various volunteers who will be on-site to sing “Take me out to the ballgame,” which is a pretty good idea given how important that is to baseball. As a cultural exchange, I think some major league team should start using “Vindaloo” by Fat Les during the seventh inning stretch here. It’s a banger. It also seems to capture England a bit more accurately than, say, “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown.”

That’s all good fun I suppose. But here’s some stuff that actually affects the game:

The end result will have some interesting dimensions. The field will be 330 feet down each foul line, and it will have a distance of 385 feet to center field, which will feature a 16-foot wall. Cook also said it would have an expanded, “Oakland-like” foul territory, referencing the Athletics’ Oakland Coliseum expanse.

Those dimensions are unavoidable given that the square peg that is a baseball field is being shoved into the round hole that is a soccer stadium. As Murray Cook, MLB’s senior field coordinator tells Rivera, that sort of thing, while perhaps less than ideal, is at least in keeping with baseball’s strong tradition of irregular field conditions. It will, however, be one of the shortest dead center distances in baseball history.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Protective netting was also an important issue addressed when building the ballpark, with Cook stressing that his team has implemented netting that “is the largest you’ll ever see in any major league ballpark.”

[Craig makes a mental note to bookmark this for the next time MLB says it won’t mandate extended netting in the U.S. because doing so is too difficult]