Getty Images

Rangers’ new ballpark will have have artificial turf

36 Comments

The Texas Rangers have announced that they will use artificial turf rather than grass in their new retractable-roof stadium that opens in 2020.

That will make the Rangers the fourth team to use fake grass after the Blue Jays, Rays and, most recently, the Diamondbacks, who are switching from real grass this offseason. At the peak of the plastic grass era, a high of 10 stadiums had artificial surfaces, both from 1977-78 and again from 1982-94. There have not been as many as four ballparks with artificial turf since 2004, when the Montreal Expos left Olympic Stadium for Washington, D.C. A traditionalist might observe that we’re going in the wrong direction.

Not that the debate is as clear cut as it was a few years ago.

The Rangers said in their announcement that the decision was made after almost two years of research regarding player safety, team performance and fan experience. You have to assume cost is a factor too. As we noted when the Dbacks made the switch, water costs are a big thing with grass. And energy costs too, given that you have to have the roof open to get sunlight to the grass during the day. The cost of having to re-cool the stadium after closing the roof before game time in the hottest of summer months is pretty high. Overall, it’s probably more economical and ecologically-friendly to have fake turf. Assuming, of course, it’s not made out of, I dunno, radioactive waste or blue whale carcasses or something.

The long-time knocks on artificial turf, of course, were that it (a) was hard on players’ knees — ask Andre Dawson how he liked it — (b) the high bounces of choppers and grounders; (c) the heat it created; and, of course (d) the whole aesthetic experience. Much of that, we were told when the Dbacks made their announcement, will not be an issue with the latest generation of turf. It’s supposedly easier on players’ joints and gives truer bounces. if you have a full-dirt infield it looks better and, as we have seen as the turf in Tropicana Field and Rogers Centre has evolved over the years, it has gotten better in the looks department. Heat won’t be an issue as these are coming online in domed stadiums. No more of those Riverfront/Busch Stadium day game roasts like we’d see back in the 80s.

Only time will tell, I suppose. The look upon unveiling and what players think of it will be the determining factor as to whether this is ultimately a good move or a bad move.

What say you, people?

Larry Walker to wear a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque

Getty Images
1 Comment

I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.

While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.

There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.

Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.

Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.

Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice.  And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.