Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
Hard to believe, but the new Yankee Stadium, obstructed-view seats and all, is playing like a bandbox. Homer after homer after homer, the balls are flying out of the new Stadium, even making the deflated “Death Valley” (that’s the post-1975 Stadium) not so hard to reach anymore.
As the ahead-of-the-pack Lou Piniella predicted when his Cubs were in for two exhibition games right before the season started, there’s some kind of jet stream in right centerfield that will increase greatly the number of home runs that will be hit. Coupled with the always-there (since 1923) short right-field porch, homers are leaving Yankee Stadium like there’s no tomorrow. With TWENTY (yes, 20) homers in just four games, Yankee Stadium is already being compared to the Rangers ballpark in Arlington which, if nothing else, should make former Ranger A-Rod salivate as he does his rehab.
SO, WHAT’S A BASEBALL TEAM TO DO WITH A BILLION DOLLAR BANDBOX?
Well, that’s a great question. The theory (blind hope?) is that, when the old Stadium is knocked down across the street, the winds and the jet stream will somehow change so that players can’t lunge and/or be fooled and/or hit the ball off the end of the bat and still hit the ball out of the park. You can bet that, whatever the original date for knocking down the old Stadium was, it’s going to be moved up. If that is really going to help, the Yankees want to tear down the old Stadium yesterday (even if fans like this writer think it should stand forever).
What about those open screens in right field behind the stands? Well, presumably the Yankees are already experimenting with opening or closing them (part way or all the way) to see what effect, if any, they have on the jet stream. Imagine a situation where the Yankees might try to keep them open when the Yankees are up and close them when the visitors come to the plate. If it comes to that (and if there actually is some kind of effect on the jet stream), the league will have to step in and make sure it’s equal for both sides.
BUT IT MAY NOT BE JUST RIGHT FIELD
While you can point to a number of home runs as great evidence that balls that were not hit very well went out for homers, I think the best proof of the easiness of this ballpark was a double. Did you see the Yankees 7-3 win over the Indians on Sunday, Apriln19th? Cody Ransom came to bat in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and proceeded to break his bat in half and hit a high pop up (fly ball?) down the left-field line. While everybody made a point of the fact that the ball was misplayed by Indians left-fielder Shin-Soo Choo, the real story was that Ransom, who certainly has some power, broke his bat in half and still hit the ball 310 feet down the left-field line. Imagine if he had hit it solidly and didn’t break his bat in half. That ball says more about the new Yankee Stadium than any home run that’s been hit to date.
So the Yankees have their work cut out for them on a number of levels. What to do with Chien-Ming Wang? Joba Chamberlain – starter or reliever? Do they need another outfielder yesterday?
But, most of all, they need to do something about the field that’s playing like a softball field. We’ll see what they come up with in the not-too-distant future.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.