BRONX, NY – If today’s game was played across the street at Old Yankee Stadium, Alex Rodriguez would not have hit a home run. Neither would Omir Santos, and Gary Sheffield’s ball would have barely gone out of the famed park.
The fact of the matter is this new Yankee Stadium is a joke – a mockery to the game that needs to be fixed next year and fast.
Balls have been flying out of this new edifice at a record pace. Right now 113 and counting, which is putting it on a pre-humidor Coors Field record for homers (1999 with 303) , something no one anticipated when the Yankees built the stadium. After all, the dimensions seem to be the same as the old park and the stadium has somewhat the same alignment.
So, then, what’s the problem? How can you put essentially the same field a few hundred feet away from the old one and have it play so differently?
Well the answer is very simple: It’s not the same field.
No matter how much the Yankees jump up and down and say it’s the same field, it’s not. Sure the markings down the lines, too the alleys and in center are the same, but how the fence gets there is very different.
According to AccuWeather.com, the new outfield wall in right is straighter than its old counterpart, because of the auxiliary scoreboard. That means there are placed in right to right center where the fence is five to 10 feet closer than in the old ballpark.
Also it’s shorter as the old stadium had a 10 feet wall, whereas this one is eight feet.
Even with smaller dimensions, there’s always the wind current. Even though AccuWesther.com disputes it, just stand out in right (I did on Friday) and you can feel the wind at your face. The Yankees say it’s the open concourses, which could be the case, but many stadiums have that feature and they don’t have a problem. I have another theory.
The archways in the Great Hall are open, which may bring wind in from the outside. If they Yankees enclosed those archways with windows – heck, make them stained glass; it is a cathedral – maybe it would stop the breeze from blowing. Now I am no expert, but less open passageways may mean less wind coming in.
The only other solution – with the exception of enclosing the concourses – is to make the field bigger. Unlike Citi Field, which has simple solutions to make it more homer friendly (i.e. move the plate forward or just lower the home run line in left), Yankee Stadium’s problem are more complex. With a backstop of only 54 feet, 4 inches, the team is already pushing the limits of MLB requirements. To move the plate back, say five feet, needs to get MLB’s approval.
Rather, the better solution is to take out the first two rows of seats in the outfield and raise the fences. Yeah, it loses money, but wouldn’t it be better to lose some revenue, then possibly alienate potential free agent pitchers, who you would now have to overpay to play in The Bronx? I don’t know if the Yankees have that type of foresight, but they will probably come to their senses when the top flight hurlers spurn their money to go and play at say Citi Field.
No matter you get my point, something has to be done. If the Yankees do nothing, it’s going to be very difficult for them to win get to – or especially win – in October. Both the Rockies and Phillies had to change their ballparks before they went to the World Series and now the Yankees face the same dilemma.
The only question is if they are too arrogant to realize it.