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May 222009

Good ole’ Wally Matthews chimes in with his take on the New Yankee Stadium:

Whatever it is, the franchise that took ownership of the home run, whose players have hit some of the most famous home runs in baseball history – The Babe’s called shot, Reggie’s three on three consecutive World Series pitches, The Mick’s blast off the façade – has turned the game’s most impressive individual accomplishment into something just about anyone can do.

This cannot have been the intention of architects who designed this launching pad or team executives who approved its design. The original Stadium had a short rightfield line to accommodate Babe Ruth’s lefthanded uppercut, but the place was Death Valley just about everywhere else.

You hit a home run there, you earned it. Now they can’t keep the ball in the ballpark.

Firstly, I want to point out that the Stadium has not allowed that many home runs to center or left. It is only a “bandbox” in right, where it has always been short but is now 9 feet shorter than the old park in some places and has lower fences. That being said, the sample size is a bit small to draw any real conclusions, and as Jayson Stark points out, the whole thing may be a bit overblown:

Of the 70 outside-the-park home runs hit at the new park through Wednesday, only three were estimated to have carried an additional 10 feet or more because of wind. And all three were hit on the same day (April 18).
Only 12 homers were estimated to have carried an extra five feet or more because of the wind (four of those 12 were just hit Tuesday and Wednesday, by the way) — but seven actually had their distance knocked down by five feet or more because they were hit into the wind.
And of those 70 home runs, 27 would have been home runs in all 30 parks in baseball, 43 would have been homers in at least 25 of the 30 parks and all but 18 would have been home runs in at least 20 of the 30 parks. Just two were judged to have been homers only in Yankee Stadium.

While these numbers are far from conclusive, they do suggest that bad pitching and good offense, rather than the ballpark, may be causing the home runs to fly out in right. Regardless of what is causing the jump in home runs, the one question we need to ask is whether we, as fans, care. From Sam Borden:

The New York Yankees play baseball. Home runs are a part of baseball. What’s the problem with home runs being hit during New York Yankees home games?
One of the Yankees’ goals with the new stadium was to give it a historical feel and incorporate numerous elements of the franchise’s past. To me, they (mostly) did a good job in that regard – the pictures, the frieze, the museum, etc. They also kept the field dimensions the same, which is a nice nod to continuity.
So does a plethora of home runs change that? Some people seem to believe that lots of homers and high scores somehow cheapens the new stadium or makes it lesser, and I can’t really understand why. Are home runs somehow a bad thing? Did a ball that flies into the seats not actually travel a great distance to get there? No one is hitting homers at Citi Field, so does that make it a better park than Yankee Stadium?
It’s still too early to say for sure how this park will play – I’d say give it a full season, at least, before you draw any real conclusions. But even if it does turn out to be a hitter’s haven, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the way it is.

I agree with Sam for the most part. Both teams need to deal with these conditions, and the better team should still be better equipped to weather the effects of the ballpark and emerge victorious. So what is the big deal if the park is a bit of a homer haven? I am sure that the Yankees will take steps to remedy the issue during the offseason, but is it really such a big deal for a ball hit 317 feet to be home run? I did not bother us in the old ballpark. As long as the competition remains fair for both teams, I am not sure what the buzz is about.

No Responses to “The Bandbox: Do We Care?”

  1. I have big problems with my team playing in a bandbox (we can debate this all day. But in my opinion, it is not mere coincidence that HRs are up by a mile in Yankee Stadium).

    I remember seeing an interview with Smoltz a few years back when the Phillies opened their stadium and balls were flying out. He made the point that it hurts the organization because it adversely affects the psyche of a pitching staff. As balls fly out, most guys will start to be afraid of contact. And it begins to permeate…

    This is a major concern for me. So yes, I do care that we seem to be playing in Coors East.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    That is a fair criticism. I think this is something that needs to be fixed, and I think it can be fixed pretty easily- move the wall in right back 9 feet. The ball is leaving at normal rates elsewhere in the park.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Let’s get Adam Dunn next season too! LOL  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. you can use all the fuzzy math you want to….you can say you dont care but this is where and how the yanks have become dead to me….Yankee fans are pathetic!! You cant say you just dont care because that just proves your team lacks integrity…and you cannot root for a team just because they win all the time (which about half of your fans do). I used to have a deep respect for the yanks and now many of the fans and the organization are blatantly ignorant. So go ahead..sign ex-steroid users to extravagant contracts and put gold lettering on your 1.5billion stadium during a recession. It will only prove this team is dead and its just not the respectful old yanks anymore.  (Quote)

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