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Mariners luckier than Marlins as surprise shower invades Seattle ballpark

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DeeGordonMarlins.jpgMitch Haniger’s wild game-winning home run in Seattle last week – as the roof was closing and rain was falling in the ninth inning – reminded me of a contest three years ago when the Miami Marlins had a similar weather situation at their relatively new ballpark.

The Marlins, however, weren’t as fortunate as the Mariners. A sudden pop-up spring shower on Opening Day 2015 in Miami sent fans scrambling and forced a brief rain delay in the bottom of the first inning, an embarrassing situation for a ball club with a retractable roof and a tarp tucked away somewhere in the nether regions of Marlins Park.

I wrote about the game for the Spring edition of the SABR Research Journal.

For the article, I interviewed then Marlins President David Samson, who detailed how the Marlins made decisions about when to close the roof. Spoiler alert: They used phone weather apps, something Meteorologist John Morales told me he is not a fan of, for good reason.

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Swinging in the rain

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Seattle Times

If Mike Trout is the king of California, baby, then Mitch Haniger is king of the rain.

King of the rain-drenched walk-off home run, that is.

As a steady drizzle fell and the Safeco Field retractable roof slowly chugged across the top of the ballpark, Haniger clubbed a two-run home run Wednesday over the left field fence to give the red-hot Mariners an 8-6 come-from-behind win over the Los Angeles Angels.

The homer completed a three-game sweep for Seattle over the Angels, a club they are battling against for the lead in the American League West.

The Mariners grabbed a 4-1 advantage early in the afternoon contest, but fell behind 6-4. Trailing 6-5 in the eighth, Seattle’s Ryon Healy smacked a pitch into the upper deck to tie the game at 6-6. Statcast measured the home run at 441 feet.

In the ninth, Juan Segura singled to center as rain began to patter the ballpark.

The Safeco roof takes about 10-20 minutes to close, depending on wind and other weather conditions. The sudden Seattle shower left some spectators popping umbrellas or clumsily donning ponchos – Is there any other way? – and it further decorated the dramatic stage for Haniger’s heroics.

He took the first pitch he saw from Angels’ hurler Oliver Drake for a ball, but then lined the next, an 84 mph splitter, through the rain drops and into a crowd of joyful Mariners fans, who were jumping with their hands high in the air in the left field seats.

Haniger quickly rounded the bases and was mobbed and doused with an unidentified clear liquid as he crossed home plate.

It was the newly crowned rain king’s 16th home run of the season.

Is Aaron Boone becoming an amateur meteorologist?

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There’s a lot to learn for a Major League Baseball rookie manager.

Aaron Boone can confirm.

When he took over as Yankees manager, Boone probably didn’t think reading weather reports would be a huge priority.

But storms and rain have played an enormous role in the Yankees schedule this season, particularly over the last few weeks. The Bronx Bombers were rained out in Baltimore on Sunday and Thursday, getting in only two games against the Orioles in what was scheduled to be a four-game series. The Orioles have had four home weather postponements this season.

Those Thursday and Sunday postponed games will be made up July 9 and Aug. 25, respectively.

The Yanks and O’s almost didn’t make it to the field Saturday. The forecast was bleak. Rain and lightning at Camden Yards forced a 1-hour and 44-minute delay. The nasty weather cleared enough, however, for the game to go on.

The Yankees scored an 8-5 win.

The Sunday game was the Yankees’ seventh weather postponement of the season. Plus, they had a rain-shorted game in Washington May 14 that was suspended in the top of the sixth inning. The Yankees and Nationals were washed out the next day, too.

Two mid-April weather cancellations in Detroit are affecting this week’s Yankees schedule. They’ll play a doubleheader in the Motor City today to make up for Saturday Sunday games that were rained out April 14 and 15.

When Boone checks today’s weather report for Detroit, he’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief. The forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies throughout the day and evening. First pitch for game one is 1:10 p.m. Eastern, 7:10 p.m. for game two.

“This seems wild,” Boone said after Sunday’s rainout in Baltimore. “I’ve never looked at weather reports and radar so much in my life. I’m not getting any better at reading them, either.”

UPDATE: Man, it’s a beautiful day for baseball in Detroit. Greg Bird just hit a solo home run that would have hit and burst a cloud had there been one in the sky.

Is it the weather? Is it New York? Whatever the reason for his struggles, Giancarlo needs to hit the road

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Baltimore Orioles v New York Yankees
Getty Images

I have four words for Giancarlo Stanton.

Get out of town!

What else can you say to a guy who looks like he is wearing a blindfold and swinging at an atom?

Have you seen what Stanton has done in Pinstripes? He’s a mess at the plate.

On Sunday, the Yankees new slugger – can we call him slugger if his bat rarely touches the ball? – went 0-for-7 and struck out five times in one game. Five bleepin’ times!

There’s a name for striking out five times in a game: Platinum Sombrero. Yankee fans may have other names for it. Use your imagination.

Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time Stanton has achieved platinum status this season. And look at the calendar, it’s only April 9. He fanned five times during his Yankee Stadium debut less than a week ago. Fans booed him mercifully. He explained it as a bad day at the ballpark. He hit a home run the next day, but guess what: He also struck out three times.

After Sunday’s performance, a game in which his Bronx Bombers jumped out to a 5-0 first inning lead on Baltimore but were unable to hold, Stanton summed up his plate futility as a “bad week.”

After Aaron Judge hit into a double play that all but killed the last-gasp rally, the Yankees could have used one good hit from Stanton is his last plate appearance Sunday. A single would have sufficed. It could have tied the game.

It didn’t happen. Stanton stuck out with runners on first and second in the bottom of the 12th inning with two outs.

Stanton’s whiff ended the game. The Yankees lost 6-5 and ended a dreadful home series in which they lost three of four games to the Orioles, an American League East rival.

Fans booed Stanton, a lot, as he was making his way through a 3-for-28 homestand. Not to keep harping on the Ks, but he struck out 16 times in those seven games.

Criticize Yankees fans for booing all you want, but their angst is justified. Stanton seems to think so.

“They’re not going to cheer for that, so what do you expect? Stanton said after Sunday’s game.

So, what else is there to say but, “Get out of town, Giancarlo.”

It might do you some good.

It might be good to get away from the Bronx and the preseason expectations of hitting as many or more home runs there as Babe Ruth. Flee, for a while, the expectations of leading the Yankees to championship No. 28.

Get away for a week and leave all the expectations that have been thrust upon your shoulders after you became a superstar in Miami, particularly following last year’s performance in which you smacked 59 home runs and drove in 132 runs. And while you’re gone, don’t think a thing about the expectations that come with your contract, the one that will pay you $295 million through 2027.

Just go, man. Get out of here. Go to Boston.

Yeah, I know, it’s not the friendliest city for players dressed in pinstripes. But go find your swing, your happy place, and drive a few balls over the wall, or off the wall or, hell, under the wall if you can. Clear your mind in Boston. Make contact, for Jete’s sake!

Follow it up with a trip to Detroit this weekend, doing the same thing there. Forget about the Bronx. Forget about the Ks thus far in the House That Jeter Built. Faaaagetaboutit! Rip Comerica Park a new one.

Get your mind right for the next homestand. You’ll play 10 games there in Yankee Stadium, beginning April 16 against the Miami Marlins, the team that sent you to the Bronx. Yeah, they did you a favor getting you away from that circus, but you don’t want to thank them. You want to make them wish they had gotten in the trade a few more bags of peanuts for the elephants.

Some say much of Stanton’s struggles can be blamed on the cold weather the Yankees have played through in New York. They say that once temperatures heat up just a little, so will Stanton. They say, having been raised in Southern California and playing the past eight seasons in Miami, he is not used to swinging a bat at curveballs draped in icicles on 40-degree days with snow and rain and fog following him around the ballpark.

That may be true. And, sure, April can be cold in the Bronx, but so can October.

There will be many games between now and the playoffs for Stanton to rid himself of whatever demons are causing his bat to miss inside fastballs… and curveballs… and sliders … and… you get the point.

“The season is much longer than a week,” Stanton said minutes after his fifth K Sunday. “A couple good games and I can turn it around and help us win.”

Good attitude!

So go now, Giancarlo. Go find whatever you lost between Miami and New York. Bring it back to the Bronx and give us, baseball fans, the show we are waiting for. Give us home runs to Monument Park. Give us three-run moon shots that thrust daggers into the hearts of Red Sox Nation in late September.

But leave behind your sombreros, be they gold or platinum.

Do so and the boos will stop. Yankee Stadium crowds will roar. The New York tabloids will stop spelling your name “GianKarlo.” And John Sterling will have five words for you: “Giancarlo, non si può stoparlo!”

And Suzn Waldman will giggle with delight.

Play ball! But wait…

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You know what would stink?

If I had asked off work Thursday, as I had contemplated, to watch the Nationals’ Opening Day game in Cincinnati. And then to find out the news…

That’s right, Opening Day baseball in Cincinnati has been postponed until Friday because of forecasted inclement weather in the city. That forecast is calling for about a 70 percent chance of rain.

The game has been rescheduled for 4:10 p.m., Friday. Max Scherzer is on the mound for the good guys. Homer Bailey is pitching for the home team.

Fans planning to attend Opening Day festivities in Detroit should keep their eyes and ears open for a possible rescheduled of the Tigers’ game with the Pirates Thursday. Rain is expected – about an 85 percent chance – at the scheduled 1 p.m. start.

UPDATE: Add the Pirates-Tigers game to the list of rained out Opening Days games. The game has been rescheduled for 1:10 p.m. Friday at Comerica Park.

Bomber cyclone

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New York Yankees Twitter

 

As we look ahead to the 2018 MLB season – and wonder why the offseason is moving slower than Justin Smoak – we are reminded that no matter how hard we wish it were spring, winter is just getting into its windup, man. This week’s “bomb cyclone” exploding on the East Coast, including Yankee Stadium as seen above, is our latest evidence.

Yeah, pitchers and catchers report to warmer environs in Florida and Arizona in about six weeks, but we still have a long way to go before Opening Day.

Below are more images from East Coast ballparks that likely will make you wish spring could get here faster than Trea Turner stealing third.

Boston

 

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Red Sox Twitter

 

 

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Red Sox Twitter


Washington

 

 

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Nationals Twitter

 

Baltimore

 

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Orioles Twitter

 

Philadelphia

 

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Phillies Twitter

 

And one more from the Bronx

 

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Yankees Twitter

 

Who left Joe Vila in out in the cold?

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baseball_mitt_mud-hdr-webWhen I write my long-promised  Top 10 list of World Series weather games, the 1925 championship finale will certainly rank high on the chart.

It had almost all the makings of a fall weather classic: pounding rain, vision-obstructing fog, ballplayers’ mud-caked habiliments and thousands of rain-drenched foul-weather fans, so to speak. ‘You could cut the mirk with a cleaver,” The Evening Star of Washington, D.C., reported on the gloomy mid-October afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Game 7 also had a fire on the field, a blaze intentionally set by Forbes Field groundskeeper Jack Fogarty in an attempt to dry the uliginous infield. There’s no report, however, of fans roasting marshmallows.

This nutty game, in which the Pirates bested the Senators 9-7, also produced one irritated journalist.

Among the many World Series recap stories The Sporting News published in its Oct. 22 issue, Joe Vila held no punches in expressing his displeasure over the treatment of writers at the ballpark.

“I do not know who was directly responsible for the press accommodations at Forbes Field, but it’s enough to say that they were outrageous,” wrote Vila, who covered baseball for three decades.

“The press box, instead of being located in the grand stand, under cover, was arranged on the ground in front of the ordinary backstop. Reporters and telegraph operators, who had no redress, worked on Tuesday and Thursday in the mud and rain. They had no protection from the storm and were drenched to the skin.

From Vila’s writing, it’s as clear as mud to determine whether he was actually dodging raindrops and slogging through mud at Forbes Field or if he simply was piping up for those writers who were covering the game.

Under the sub-headline of “Press Handled Like Bleacherites,” Vila continued his salty assault, writing, “If the Pittsburgh Club had entertained the proper respect for the newspapers which spent many thousands of dollars to spread to spread the details of the World Series all over the United States and other parts of the civilized world, such uncomfortable conditions under which the writers and keymen tolled would not have existed.”

Digging through various other newspapers has not revealed, so far, any other scribes complaining about improper working conditions at the ballpark.

Ralph Davis wrote in the Pittsburgh Press that he “leaped” from his seat in the “press box at Forbes Field” at the end of the game, not because his pants were soaked, but from the sight of “Old Rube” Oldham firing the third strike past the Senators’ Goose Goslin, who was “standing there flatfooted, for the final out of the game of the world’s baseball series.”