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The Diamondbacks are installing artificial turf

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The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that they are switching from natural grass to artificial turf. The synthetic stuff will be ready to go for the 2019 season.

Team president Derrick Hall, who calls the it “state-of-art” synthetic grass, says it will be better for players as the type of natural grass that they could get to grow in the challenging environment of “indoors and in the desert” was hard and rather unforgiving and had a tendency to break up and cause players to slip. It’ll be better for fans too, Hall says, because they won’t have to keep the roof open during the day to grow the grass, which makes it rather stuffy in the ballpark until the air conditioner has had a chance to catch up in the evening. It’ll obviously help save on cooling costs and will conserve a lot of water as well. According to the Diamondbacks it’ll cut water usage by 90% and will save two million gallons a year.

All of which makes one wonder why they bothered to build a retractable roof ballpark instead of a straight dome in the first place. I suppose the answer is “it was the 90s and we still believed we could do difficult things fairly easily then” or something like it. It probably also has to do with fake grass being better now than it was over 20 years ago when Chase Field was designed.

From an aesthetics standpoint, it will not look like those 1970s turf fields, as the warning track, the infield, and the path between home plate and the mound will remain dirt as opposed to having those sliding pits that used to be so common.

I’m generally pro-grass and anti-turf, but I think it’s fair to suspend those preferences when we’re talking about playing in the desert. If it was for no reason other than water and energy savings it’d be worth it, but given that the grass in Chase Field is not up to snuff should make it a pretty easy case to go fake.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.