Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Domeball was Real Baseball

On the Ballpark, Part 1

In Sunday's game against the Yankees, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria sky-ed, or rather "ceilinged," a pop-up that struck the catwalk, which is part of the roof's support structure, in fair territory. A sure out was redirected so that it landed safely for a single.

For the common visions of grand pastures, baseball is in reality a city game. It's heydey tracked with the rise of the industrial city. Growing up, kids played it wherever they could. The kids in our neighborhood growing up played in back yards, on the street, in a parking lot, on an open lot, and occasionally on a ball field. The ground rules often depended on the venue and the number of players:
OK, we're playing pitcher's hand; a ball hit to the right of second base that goes out of the infield is a foul ball; if it goes through the trees and hits the fence on the fly, it's an automatic triple.
Just like these kind of rule changes we all may to make the game work when we were young, ballpark quirks are part of the charm of baseball. The Green Monster, Yankee Stadium's short right field porch, Crosley Field's "terrace," the goofy Polo Grounds dimensions (279'-483'-258'), Tiger Stadium's overhang, etc. As much as I could not stand watching a ball game at the Metrodome, it still hosted authentic baseball, despite the teflon sky, the baggie, and the springy turf, or perhaps because of it.

Putting up with the constraints that creates such quirks is every bit a part of the long traditions of the major league game. So in the wake of Longoria's dome-assissted single, the Yankees' protests ring hollow.

What does offend the sensibilities, however, is the self-conscious creation of quirks, i.e., Minute Maid Park's hill in center field, regardless the redeeming features it may have. This is why I'm glad to hear that the Twins apparently avoided such temptations with Target Field.

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