Ballparks General Yankees Yanks Gamers/Postmortems

Contract Year Conspiracy Theory

Johnny Damon interned here a few summers ago, and changed some dimension strings without telling anyone.

53 replies on “Contract Year Conspiracy Theory”

If Damon keeps this up, I’m all for a two year extension. Three years and I drop out of the bidding. He’s a cheaper alternative than Holliday even as he probably won’t keep this up.
If Bay reaches free agency then it’s tough call. Still might say Damon though. He really has perfected his swing for the park.

Geeky architect reference FTW!
(I took a bunch of architecture/animation classes about 5 years ago; I love me some autoCAD/3Dstudio.

By the way, Damon has actually been decent on the road, but ridiculous at home:
Home – .315 .413 .620 1.033, 9 HRs
Away – .283 .330 .481 .812, 3 HRs

Was at the game last night and would have bet anything that Damon’s ball was a pop-up – until it landed in the seats. Jeter’s wasn’t much better. Teixeira’s and Swisher’s on the other hand were bombs. I do hope that if the problem is at least in part about the wind currents that they’ll be able to do something in the off-season to rectify…the pop-fly HRs, broken-bat HRs, etc. make what should be a baseball cathedral into something of a rinky-dink embarrassment.
On the other hand, was nice to see the stadium packed last night. Seats seem to be filling in finally.

“My last two, sometimes the field giveth, and sometimes it taketh. Good thing it didn’t taketh.”
Loving the transmogrification of the field into an Divine Being, and perhaps a jealous one, to boot.

I don’t buy the wind current explanation. They moved all of 500 feet and the park faces the same way. Plus, if it were the wind, there would be more doubles. There are actually fewer doubles – for the Yankees and their opponents. This homerun tacker suggests it’s the smaller dimensions. The wall is closer in right field and left field where it goes straight. By my count, I see 30 to 40 homeruns that would have been doubles or warning track flyouts at the old place. Doubles are simply turning into homeruns.
Quite honestly, it doesn’t bother me. Fenway has been a hitter’s paradise for a long time. It doesn’t make their park an “embarassment”.

I think it’s a bit overstated, as well, given that overall offense isn’t inflated any more than Fenway’s — though Fenway is a doubles park and actually suppresses home runs to a significant extent, so I can see why there’s more of an uproar over the new YS, as opposed to Fenway, where changes in the past 30 years have actually reduced its home run capabilities.

I think the term “embarrassment” is a bit over-the-top as well, though “silly” seems more in line.
My thought is that fans, in general (I am violating my rule about generalizations, with great risk!), don’t appreciate “cheap” homers. And Yankee Stadium, while not offering up overall offense, is a cheap homer haven. And so therefore the overall offense flatline is lost in the din over cheapies.

Being a hitter’s park and setting a record-pace for most home runs ever hit out of a park are different things in my view. I can live with the former. I find the latter embarassing. Whether the latter is due to the dimensions, wind, a celestial wormhole floating above the field, or some combination, I hope they make an effort to address it.

Thanks for that pic. But it does support my view that the wind is blowing the same direction it’s always been and having the same general effect. It’s not like they’ve completely reversed things so that what was a wind blowing in is now blowing out.

Rob, there’s a thought that the open concourse allows for more wind to literally pass through the stadium. It’s a design issue, conceivably, not a cardinal direction thing.

Cross-posted there SF…perhaps you are right re: the word “embarassing” and that “silly” might be better. I think part of it for me is the cognitive dissonance between the grandiosity, regal appearance, and general pomp and circumstance of the stadium from the outside combined with the amateurish feeling of guys breaking their bats on HR balls and laughing when their pop-ups float out. That combined with the expense of the whole thing and the fact that they clearly did not intend for this to be the result – much like the absurd over-pricing debacle – lead me to make the “embarassing” comments.

See, the only thing they could do is move the walls back or make them curved again. I don’t see that happening.

Why should it affect doubles, Rob? You’ve lost me. Wind may affect fly balls and line drives less, right?
Obviously the fence being moved in is a factor, inarguably. I don’t know enough about the physics to say the concourse isn’t a factor. But it certainly could be, and the fact about doubles wouldn’t preclude it from being a factor.

Splitting hairs, I guess. “Rinky-dink” certainly comes to mind, and that’s an embarrassing term to use, for sure.
Look, I guess I come at this a different way, in that I am not so foolish as to believe any of the BS pomp and grandiosity that emanates from Yankee Stadium, either old or new. This is a bit inflammatory, but as a Sox fan I have always found the self-congratulatory nature of the Yankee organization to be a bit phony (this goes for any organization that portrays itself as inherently superior to any other, not just the Yankees – I am not a big fan of this kind of stuff). To be clear, it’s not the successes of the Yankee organization, which are quite amazing, but rather all the stuff surrounding the organization. So I guess this is kind of an “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation to me, and it doesn’t really bother me. Rather, I find it kind of illuminating!

I agree Rob – I don’t see the walls being moved back, raised higher, or bowed back out – if only because each of these steps would lead to losing seats which equals lost revenue. In the end, my hope that they would try to address it is more an expression of not loving the HR derby feel of the place than any realistic expectation that they can or will fix it.
Having said that, I agree with SF that there still might be something causing wind currents that did not exist in the old stadium and which may or may not be fixable. Open concourses are one possibility and there is no doubt that the new stadium is much less walled off from the councourses and the outside than was the old stadium. More generally, I think it’s impossible from a couple photos to gauge whether wind tends to flow differently even when the stadium is only 500 feet away and generally oriented the same way. The terrain surrounding the stadium, the proximity of the highway, etc. are all different. I don’t know enough to assert anything with certainy about the wind – other than I am certain I don’t know enough to rule it out either, and I don’t think photos alone provide sufficient evidence to do so.

Has anyone actually gone out and measured the distance from the plate to the right field wall? Google maps (which I’m sure is 100% correct and to scale) shows it as being about 180 feet.

Here SF is a good issue for debate and of course a dangerous one given fan passions. The mythology we all build up around our teams, their histories, etc. are touchy things to attack – especially when you come from the “enemy camp”.
I don’t think what you call BS pomp and grandiosity has led to better play by individual Yankees over the years, but I do think it is real (i.e. not just BS) and that it is part of something that has helped the franchise in a number of ways – and I admit that I buy into and perpetuate it to some extent. I think of it as the primary enduring legacy of Babe Ruth – his personality imprinted upon a franchise. For the most part, I like it, even if only for emotional rather than rational reasons…and – admittedly – because I know it annoys fans of other teams.
I do think that some franchises – esp. those with a history of success – tend to have a personality and a culture, and sometimes a playing style linked to that personality. And I think this is true of the Yankees. I also think it is true of the LA Lakers, Manchester United, the Chicago Bears, and others.
It would be hard to break off the Ruthian “we do things bigger and better than everyone else” aspect of the Yankee organization’s self-image without doing broader harm to it – and I wouldn’t want to see them try and become a more “humble” organization.

If the Yankees were a more humble organization, who would us Red Sox fans hate?

If a routine fly ball is carrying more then shorter flys should also be traveling longer and turning into two bases. They’re not. Only the homeruns are up. My point is wind shouldn’t be specific to homeruns. The wind doesn’t care how far a ball is hit. It lengthens any ball in the air.
That tells me the park is playing small because of the dimensions. For instance, if the dimensions were truly the same then many balls in that hit tracker would fall in or be caught. Then we wouldn’t be having this discussion – the park would be playing almost identically to the old one (correcting for the better Yankee offense this year).
Here’s the 2009 data:
NY Yankees: .270/.357/.497 – 51 2Bs, 57 HRs
Opposition: .272/.352/.457 – 43 2Bs, 48 HRs
NY Yankees: .284/.355/.468 – 65 2Bs, 35 HRs
Opposition: .247/.331/.414 – 57 2Bs, 29 HRs
The only real difference between those lines is how the doubles become homeruns in Yankee Stadium and then back to doubles on the road.
Here’s the 2008 data:
NY Yankees: .281/.349/.440 – 144 2Bs, 92 HRs
Opposition: .253/.320/.387 – 144 2Bs, 68 HRs
NY Yankees: .262/.335/.414 – 145 2Bs, 88 HRs
Opposition: .280/.337/.423 – 144 2Bs, 75 HRs
The biggest thing that pops out? Doubles relative to homeruns. The Yankees and their opposition may not reach the same number of total doubles as last year. But homeruns are going to be tripled.

I don’t think you have right. You’re saying the distance from the right field corner to first base is the same as first base to home? Cause we know the latter is 90 feet.

I saw a compilation of Home vs Away stats for non HR hits at SoSH just now (Yankees comment section).
They have it that the NYYs hit 58% more HRs, 26% fewer doubles and 42% fewer triples at home vs away this year.
Seems to support the doubles to home runs theory – but doesn’t help that much with the conflict between the park dimensions vs weird winds schools of thought.
Mind you, many or perhaps most doubles are LDs off the wall or down the linethat could never become HRs.
So what we need seems to be a stat on the effect of NYS on the proportion of LD vs FB doubles at home and away, with OYS 08 stats as an additional control.

I was making a joke based on Google Map’s “scale” at the bottom of the screen, which showed it as being less than 200 feet from home to the wall.
The wind doesn’t care how far a ball is hit. It lengthens any ball in the air.
A pop-up/fly ball is far more likely to be altered by the wind than a line-drive. Line-drives cut through the wind much, much more. Doesn’t anyone else here golf?

Oops….guess Rob covered a lot of that already – didn’t see the “2b” numbers. Haven’t posted in a while, not that that’s an excuse.
But I’m still curious what NYS is doing to the LD percentage of 2B and 3B hits

Honestly, the homeruns don’t bother me. Both teams have the same field. The only issue would the homerun record. But since that’s now meaningless, I’m not too concerned.

Agreed on the LD vs. FB percentages. I’d be interested in seeing that as well.
Why I think it’s simply doubles turning into homeruns though is because doubles only have a few places they can go.
1) Down the line/over the bag
2) In the gap
3) To the wall
Only #3 is really in most outfielders’ range. But if they’re prevented by a short field by making a play, then it’s a homerun. Looking at the hit tracker there are ALOT (> 30) of homeruns that barely went over the wall. If we call those doubles with a decent portion caught, the offense is almost identical to 2008.
#2 should be helped by the wind – more balls going in the gap. We’re not seeing that.

“I think it was less Ruth and more Gehrig.”
How is that? Gehrig was a wallflower next to Ruth. To trace elements of the organization’s personality to individual greats:
Everything that goes with team-orientation, no-name-on-the-jersey, buttoned-up professionalism, and Jeter-eseque bland cliches connects to Gehrig.
Everything that goes to “we are bigger and better than you”, loving the big stage, look at how great-I-am George Steibrenner/Reggie Jackson-esque pomposity/arrogance goes to Babe Ruth. It’s why the old stadium was the House that Ruth Built, not the House that Gehrig Built.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not criticizing Gehrig – he is my all-time favorite Yankee (thus the IH), but I can’t see how you could make the argument that the elements of the Yankee franchise’s identity that could be described as arrogant, grandiose, etc. could possibly be linked to Gehrig at all, even if Ruth weren’t in the picture. And certainly not relative to Ruth.

I would add that Fenway is more of a “hitter’s paradise” because of the dearth of foul territory versus, say, Oakland. Not a lot of ground for foul pop-ups, so batters get another chance.
Also, RF (Pesky’s Pole excluded) is very deep, as is CF. The short LF wall might turn the occasional single, double or FO into a homer, but it also turned the line-drive homer to left into a single or double.

Sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, from the outside it’s very easy to draw a line to Ruth.
But from the inside – how they’ve run the organization and the players they’ve valued – the line is Gehrig.
When I list all the Yankee greats, by a wide margin they’re in the Gehrig mold.
Now the old park was Ruth’s, but it’s much closer to the history. Ruth was acquired in 1920. The Stadium was built in 1922-23. Gehrig wasn’t a regular until 1925.

The only reason the Yankees are in the first round at all, IBM, is because they failed to sign their first rounder last year. I’m curious how that will affect the strategy. Will the Yankees be more wary of signing a top-tier talent with signability concerns, knowing that a failure to sign will not give them compensation next year?
And, conversely, how will this affect the Red Sox’ strategy if multiple signability guys fall to them, knowing that potentially the Yankees one pick behind won’t bite, and that all those players might be available when their turn comes back again?

I don’t agree with that. How many balls in most games are caught in foul territory. Five?
Fenway has the wall. But the space in RF/CF also leads to more offense. Ellsbury does a good job out there, but alot of balls fall in.
Many Sox players get a huge effect playing in Fenway. I can’t see how it’s as simple as getting an extra swing once or twice a game.
Here’s the 2009 Sox offense versus their opposition:
Home –
Red Socks: .291/.371/.502 – 73 2Bs, 33 HRs
Opponents: .256/.327/.389 – 51 2Bs, 20 HRs
The Sox main advantage at home seems to come from increased doubles and base hits. That’s the Monster. It’s a big net positive.
Away –
Red Socks: .254/.344/.405 – 60 2Bs, 33 HRs
Opponents: .272/.349/.423 – 52 2Bs, 31 HRs
You guys watch more games than me. But it seems like the Sox pitchers, like the hitters, know how to use Fenway. If they’re pitching away from the wall, they’re going to do well especially with the big RF/CF. Do they follow a no-pull rule to righties?

I dig all the HR’s…who cares. RF is the same distance for the opposition, right?
I need a weather report from the chowdaheads that live up there…looks like the weather is awful? Any chance we see baseball tonight? Had the worst day at work and need to see a game, even if we get destroyed since we suck…

The problem is that the starters will face a few more batters, which means they leave earlier, which means the Yanks bullpen will have to pitch more, and they don’t like to pitch more, it seems.
Of course, the other team will have to do the same thing, but if you’re playing, say, 2 straight series at home, the second team would be “fresh”.

The one thing I think might be relevant to the case for wind patterns (or, more accurately, the combination of wind patterns, the straighter angles and the livelier ball) causing an increase in homers but not a corresponding one in doubles is that:
1. There is a fine line (the fence) that turns a double into a home run, even if the fielder would have caught the ball had that line not been there. So if a ball isn’t hit well enough to leave the park, it might just push the fielder farther back but still be an out. But a ball hit well enough to find the warning track or wall might be pushed just enough to go over the fence. The effect is small in either case, but the net effect is that deep flyouts and doubles turn into homers while shallow and mid-range flyouts just become deeper flyouts.
2. I would guess most doubles are line drives into the gap and down the lines — balls that are less affected by wind and, to what extent they are affected, merely reach the fence faster but would have been doubles anyway.

In keeping with the theory in No. 1, some doubles would turn into home runs, but flyouts would simply turn into deeper flyouts (or even more home runs), resulting in a decrease in doubles.
Again, I have no idea, but it seems to make sense. If I recall YS correctly, there aren’t any terribly tall walls (ie, Fenway’s left and center fields) where you could end up with a lot of wall-ball doubles that would ordinarily have been flyouts. Indeed, the margin between a flyout to the wall and a home run just over the fence is probably very small. It wouldn’t take much of a change to turn flyouts into homers (and we’ve got three possibilities), but it seems like it would take a lot of luck to turn a flyout into a wall-ball double.

Here’s the latest on the stadium.
AccuWeather says it’s the wall curvature. I’d dispute their count of added homeruns, but they do rule out the wind at least.

Good story, Rob. I like science.
On the other hand, “blame the architects”? Who signed off on the dimensions of the new field? They think the architects sprung this change on Ownership, and not that ownership and the architects mutually agreed upon the revised dimensions? It should be “blame the architecture“, not the architect.
It’s always easy to blame the architect, I know this first hand.

Oh, don’t take that seriously. It’s a rag. Utter trash, really. I tried to find a link to the original report but couldn’t find it.
I agree. I can’t believe anyone could ever blame you guys. You’re hired to design and with the number of drafts, in response to the constant whimsy of clients, it’s got to be a tough gig. But the clients sign off on everything.
Yankee management still thinks the dimensions are the same when a simple overlay shows they’re clearly not. I suppose that easy to miss in the design process. No one is at fault. Problem is, there’s no simple fix.

Sounds like you’ve been the scapegoat before, SF.
For the sake of argument, shouldn’t the architect know more about that sort of thing than the ownership? Sure they mutually agreed upon the revised dimensions, but isn’t that like you and your doctor agreeing on getting an MRI? Sure you have to sign off on it, but you’re just taking the doctor’s recommendation. Is it really the ownership’s responsibility to know these things?
Or should the ownership have hired an outside consultant to figure out certain things like that? I’m not an architect so I’m not sure how much outside consulting is done.

From what I understand, the problem with design is you’re stuck between the client’s desires and the builder’s constraints. The client is footing the bill so they always have final say. The builder is actually on the ground so what they say gets alot of weight.
In this instance, I have no trouble seeing that the designers originally had a curved wall all the way around. Why wouldn’t they? Then the team says “Manual scoreboards would be great!” or the builder says “We can’t have a curved wall where there’s the manual scoreboards.” So now the adjustment gets made and no one steps back to say “Wait, now the park is going to play 5-10 feet shorter in those areas, we need to make another adjustment.”

In this case, Ath, the team has the final say on the design of the park, the dimensions of the field. The architect may have demands related to the planning of the seats, the concessions, the facilities, for sure, but in the end the moving of the wall a few feet is something that Ownership makes final decisions on. My guess is that the team decided they wanted the extra seats, and some site restrictions cascading across the plan meant that in order to get those extra seats the wall came in, or something like that. Of course I don’t know.
There are many times the architect SHOULD be blamed, for sure. Architects are never, should never be, immune from blame, for a lot of things. But in this case, with the wall moving in, I can deduce no good reason to blame them. This was a management decision made to deal with site constraints and maximize seating. At least that’s my intuition.

Thanks for the insight, that makes a lot of sense. I own a small website design company, and we do both the design and construction. It’s easy to forget that architects have more than just the client pushing/pulling them.

I cross-posted with this, but this is also entirely plausible. Again, the wall moving in was pretty obviously driven by what the team wanted behind the wall, not in front of it. Unless of course they wanted to drive up Johnny Damon’s price!

I’m not as cynical to think it was purely about packing as many seats as possible. Even the bleacher screw up seems more a issue of designing in 2D but living in 3D.
I could even imagine that they had already poured the concrete then realized the manual scoreboards wouldn’t fit. They’re a decoration but a limiting one. Aren’t plans filed at city hall? It would be interesting to see when they realized the wall couldn’t curve if they used the manual scoreboards (which are completely lost any ways in the commotion).
Of course, the Yankees are clearly at fault for the wall. Someone was told they would either have to eliminate the scoreboards or straighten the walls. And that someone signed off. Still, I can’t imagine they did that having any idea that the park would play much smaller as a result. They probably even made sure to check that the “dimensions” would be the same. It’s idiocy but understandable idiocy to me.

So no one has to visit that rag here’s the Accuweather piece. I didn’t realize the right field wall is also two feet shorter.
Hat tip to RAB.

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