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What Is Your Favorite Old Ballpark? Honoring Torre, Wright’s Crossroad and Friendly Neighborhood



By Mike Silva ~ September 15th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Last night the SNY booth was discussing old ballparks and it gave me the idea to reach out to my Twitter and Facebook followers to ask what old ballpark would they have liked to watch a game. Here are the responses I received:

Ebbetts Field

Polo Grounds

Crosley Field

Jarry Park

Original Yankee Stadium

Astrodome

One fan told me his favorite park was P.S. 62, where left field was 320 feet and right field was 65. As a left handed hitter I sure would want to play my home games there.

As much as I would have liked to watch a game at either Ebbetts Field or the Polo Ground, the old ballpark that interests me is the old Los Angeles Coliseum. The Dodgers played there four years after they moved to the West Coast from Brooklyn. It had a capacity of over 92,000 and some of the quirkiest dimensions you will ever see. There is a photo below but it was 250 to left, 425 to center, and 301 in right field. Talk about taking away a left handed hitters power.

The dimensions get even weirder when the Dodgers returned to the Coliseum for an exhibition game against the Red Sox in 2008. Renovations to the Coliseum since the last baseball game there in1961 have added more seats closer to the field. That put left field 201 feet from home plate with a 60 foot high fence. You are, literally, sitting in the outfield! Both teams actually did not employ a left-fielder, instead defending as if it was a slow pitch softball game with a rover. There were 115 thousand fans in attendance.

I know it’s probably not logistically possible, but wouldn’t it be a fun event to have one regular season game at year at the Coliseum? I know the quirky dimensions would cause for a ton of offense, but both teams would be on even playing ground with that scenario. Imagine some of the cool highlights it would generate. I know I would like to watch a game in there. Although I am sure the pitchers would not be too happy.

In case you are wondering, the Coliseum is now home to the USC football team.

***

I talked about retiring the numbers of members of the 90s Yankees dynasty. I believe that in addition to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, the team will also retire the numbers of Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams. I was just talking about players, but a reader pointed out that Joe Torre and his number 6 obviously deserves to be retired.

Yes, I believe Torre will get his number retired. He might go down as the only manager in team history that was both overrated and underrated during his tenure. It got me thinking that perhaps the team should first retire Torre’s number, and then wait for Jeter, Rivera, and Posada to retire and have a ceremony for all “Core Five” players.

Torre obviously is the symbol of that nineties team. Who can forget the tears after winning the World Series in 1996? Now that bygones are bygones between the organization and Torre, perhaps this is an event that could happen as soon as next year.

***

I noticed there is some trepidation by fans to retire anyone’s number outside of Jeter and Rivera. Another option would be to just give monuments to Williams, Posada, and Pettitte. At some point the Yankees might not be able to give out a number lower than 50!

If you want to keep the retired numbers sacrosanct, then that is the better option. I guess when I see Billy Martin and Ron Guidry with retired numbers I feel it opens it up players like Williams, Posada, and Pettitte. I realize Billy was killed in a tragic accident, but he wasn’t a star during the 50s dynasty and he won only one World Series as the team’s manager. If anyone deserves a monument versus a retired number its Martin. Guidry had that historic 1978 season, but a late start and injuries derailed his career. His run was less than ten years. It was a good tens years, but does that deserve Yankees immortality? If you retire Guidry’s number, then there should be no question about Pettitte.

***

Speaking of retired numbers. Could the Mets retire Piazza’s number 31? Maybe you do a duel ceremony where John Franco, the prior owner of the number, and Piazza are both honored. You could retire Franco’s number 45 as well, which we wore from ’98 to ’04.

I can’t see any objection to retiring Piazza’s 31. I am waiting for the response on Franco, which I suspect would be polarizing at best.

As I said yesterday when talking about the saves record, there is something to be said for consistency and longevity in a game that isn’t kind to either. Franco had his issues in the ninth inning, but he was there every year and stepped up when the team needed him in 2000. Without his sequence to Barry Bonds in Game 2, the Mets probably never get to the World Series.

You have to put the blown saves in the past and give Franco his due. It might not be with Piazza, but since they shared the same number, I figured it made tons of sense.

***

David Wright‘s Mets career is at a crossroads. I can tell you that I recently spoke to someone in baseball that said Sandy Alderson expressed annoyance at his expensive left side of the infield after a rough day. On Saturday, both Wright and Reyes turned simple defensive plays into errors. Reyes couldn’t turn a double play earlier in this series. Wright cost them a couple of runs last night after botching a groundball. David’s defense this year has been abhorrent. According to UZR/150 he is one of the worst defensive 3B in the National League.

I am not suggesting that Alderson wants to deal David Wright or not re-sign Jose Reyes, but there isn’t the same level of affection for them as with the fans and media. I love both players and would like to see them stick around when this gets good, but they need to be cognizant that if they are going to be the most expensive players on this team, then they need to play like it consistently. I wonder if either can do that over 162 games. The only time they did was when they were in the shadow of Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran.

I am not expecting David Wright to be Mike Schmidt or George Brett anymore, but I wish he would play consistently well like an in-prime Scott Rolan. If Reyes wants $20 million dollars a year, or “Carl Crawford” money, then he needs to figure out how to stay healthy. Obviously, his current process isn’t working since he admitted the last hamstring injury is still bothering him. Even more important, if he wants to be paid like a star, then he needs to turn the kind of double play that he botched the other night. This isn’t just about numbers, this is about doing the things that make you a winning ballplayer.

The Mets need to make a decision on Reyes in the next couple of months. I think they bring him back for reasonable money, which is far less than what Crawford received from the Red Sox. I think Jose and his agent will be surprised at the trepidation towards giving him a long-term deal. As for Wright, I give him one more year, and if he resembles the player we saw this year post-injury, then I have to consider walking away from an expensive contract.

I have waffled on this for a while. I love Wright and Reyes, but the current level of play is unacceptable. There are no stats that will change my mind about that. Just watch the product on the field and how it’s performed. Sandy Alderson is doing that and I get the sense he isn’t “tickled to death.”

***

Nothing personal against Joe Posnanski, but he has a way of saying nothing special in a lot of words and getting praised for it. The statistically inclined bows at his alter since he’s one of the first mainstream writers to cite various statistics and ideologies in his writing. His article about Mariano Rivera yesterday could basically be stated in one sentence:

“If Rivera was born in a different time he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to close and we wouldn’t be praising his virtues.”

The problem with people, like Posnanski, who look at the number before the person, is that it’s not about the number of saves, but the level of consistency and excellence. That was the point I made yesterday in far less words.

I don’t care what benchmark you use for saves, Rivera would be looked at in the same light today as any other era. His role would have been different, for sure, but he would have excelled at that benchmark because of who he is. I also don’t get the point about diminishing his record because you don’t like the stat. Do you take away Brooks Robinson‘s excellent defense because he played with a glove, and if he played in the 19th century he wouldn’t have the glove and be as good? Of course not, it’s silly. You are grasping for something to make your point.

I understand Posnanski needs to write to his audience. Sports Illustrated hired him because his statistically inclined writing draws page views. Sabermetric writers are the new corporate star in media, even though the suits don’t understand writing is more about content than ideology. You don’t have to be labeled or force something down our throats. I just wish Posnanski wouldn’t have become such a characterture of himself. It’s almost like he can’t write something unless it aligns with the popular club talking points.

I respect people who challenge the status quo, rather than feed into it. But that’s just me. Who am I to challenge someone of Posnanski’s stature?

***

So if you want to live in New York with fans that root for the same team as you, where do you go? Well, there aren’t many “strong” stomping grounds for Mets fans these days according to Hop Stop Blog.  

Here are the top five areas to meet Mets and Yankees fans.


If you read the details, there aren’t many places for Mets fans to meet in Manhattan and Staten Island.

***

Over at Sports Media Watchdog, I point out how Mark Teixeira believes that his appearance on HBO’s Entourage has stopped the negative reaction towards him on the road. You can also check out ”Manny Being Manny” with a reporter after his release from jail.

***

Robert Pimpsner updates us about the sale of the Staten Island Yankees at Gotham Baseball Magazine. The Baby Bombers were owned by the big league club and will be sold to a NYC hedge fund manager for $8.3 million dollars. The Yanks also will sell their stake in the Scranton team. What does this mean? I don’t think much in terms of the location of either club, but it I still wonder where the Scranton team will play while their stadium is under renovation next season.

***

As you know, the Mets had Star Wars Night at Citi Field on Tuesday. Sports Grid has some photos of various characters making their way around the field. It includes Mets knuckleballer and Star Wars Nerd R.A. Dickey. You can scroll through all the photos, but my favorite is the one below where Darth Vader is showing Ryota Igarashi his light saber. Any chance that Vader could take Igarashi and his career 6.39 ERA up to the Death Star and out of here?

 

 

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to What Is Your Favorite Old Ballpark? Honoring Torre, Wright’s Crossroad and Friendly Neighborhood

  1. UncleMario

    Don’t forget that Guidry volunteered to be the closer after Cliff Johnson took out Goose Gossage in that locker room brawl in 1979. Guidry could have a fourth 20 win season if that brawl never happened.

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