"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 6/5/09

First things first . . . Happy Birthday to new daddy Cliff Corcoran!

Today’s news is powered by . . . a reallllllly old McDonald’s commercial:

Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett was suspended six games Thursday for throwing high-and-tight to Texas’ Nelson Cruz earlier this week.

Burnett appealed the penalty, which had been set to take effect immediately. He can continue to pitch until a hearing is held.

“You kind of expect something to happen when the ball comes that close,” Burnett said before New York played the Rangers in the series finale.

  • MLB.com previews the Yankees’ plan for the upcoming amateur draft:

As always, the Yankees will shoot for quality over need at No. 29, but they must be sure they can actually sign the player since there is no compensation. A position player looks like a strong possibility. The Yankees believe the pool is more unique and balanced than past years.

The Yankees could highlight an athletic outfield prospect like California’s Brett Jackson on their Draft board, and there has been talk about Southern California shortstop Grant Green and Boston College catcher Tony Sanchez.
(Yankees scouting director Damon) Oppenheimer outlined desires for athleticism, power arms and left-handed pitching. “There are holes that we need to address — the system is in pretty good shape, but we need to continue to pound stuff in it,” he said.

  • Sam Borden of LoHud.com wants folks to chill over the homer-happy Stadium:

First of all, it’s presumptuous to label a park a “hitters’ haven” or any other term after such a limited sample. While a park can’t necessarily “get better” the way a struggling (but talented) rookie might, there are any number of factors – starting with weather, wind patterns and surrounding buildings – that may or may not affect the way a ballpark plays as its history grows. At the very least, the new Stadium deserves a full season before it’s excoriated as a joke.

Beyond that, though, is this: Even if the park does turn out to be more homer-prone than its predecessor, even if it does yield more home runs than expected, there is nothing particularly wrong with that. It’s not better or worse than the old Stadium. It’s just different. It’s just the way it is. Consider: Home runs are a part of baseball. Baseball games are played at Yankee Stadium. So home runs are hit at Yankee Stadium. Where is the crime in that?

[My take: Well, as an example, MLB has rules that maintain that outfield walls must be a certain minimum distance from home plate.  Why would that be?  Because they don’t want football-type scores.  While it would seem MLB has been looking to pump up scoring in the last 40 years (via lowering the mound and instituting the DH), they’ve still maintained those distance standards.  When Coors Field was having football-type scores, MLB allowed the Rockies to use a humidor for the baseballs, and the scoring dropped to more “normal” levels.  I would expect MLB and the Yankees to do some serious studying of the Stadium’s wind currents in the off-season (once the old park is torn down).]

When Tomko was with the Cincinnati Reds in 1997, he spoke to Pete Harnisch, a teammate, about Gwynn. Gywnn, who is now in the Hall of Fame, was in the midst of winning eight batting titles.

“He told me to throw it right down the middle,” Tomko said. . . .

“He said that Gwynn was so used to hitting pitches that were out of the strikezone that I was better off throwing it down the middle,” Tomko said. “He said Gwynn wouldn’t be expecting it, so he’d probably roll it over and hit it to the right side or pop it up.”

In Tomko’s first game against Gwynn on Aug. 7, 1997, Tomko threw fastballs over the plate. Gwynn grounded out to first and popped up twice to the infield. . . .

The strategy remained successful for Tomko: He held Gywnn, a .338 career hitter, to 2 hits in 12 at-bats.

  • Duke Sims turns 68 today.  Sims’ Yankee career consisted of a couple of cups of back-up catcher coffee in ’73 and ’74.
  • On this date in 1958, at Yankee Stadium, New York routs White Sox starter Early Wynn for a 12 – 5 victory. In the third inning, Mickey Mantle legs out his third inside-the-park home run in a month.

[My take: Let’s hear it for the Death Valley 461 foot mark.]

  • On this date in 1963, at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, Mantle fractures a bone in his left foot and suffers ligament and cartilage damage to the left knee running into the chain link fence chasing down a Brooks Robinson drive. Mantle will be out for 61 games. Whitey Ford beats Milt Pappas and the Orioles, 4 – 3, as the Yankees return to first place.

[My take: Thank goodness there aren’t any chain link fences around anymore, right?]

  • On this date in 2006, Jason Giambi and Andy Phillips each hit a three-run home run in a seven-run second inning, and the host Yankees roughed up old nemesis Josh Beckett in a 13 – 5 rout of the Boston Red Sox. New York had 11 hits, for its 12th consecutive game with at least 10, breaking the franchise record of 11 straight games set in May 1937.

See you all Monday!

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 5, 2009 9:24 am

Cliff, huzzah! You da man, mang!

2 tomfodw   ~  Jun 5, 2009 9:28 am

My feeling about all the home runs is this: chill out! They obviously did not plan for it to be this way and they obviously had no idea it *would* turn out to be this way. They are not permitted to make any changes during the season, not that they would anyway considering that the season's only 1/3 complete. As long as the Yankees are hitting their share of all the HR, I have no problem. After the season is the time to study the issue and try to figure things out. Until then, there's nothing that can or is going to be done about it, so what's the point in talking about it incessantly? I'm not a building or wind engineer, and I seriously doubt anyone else is either. Relax and enjoy the games.

3 The Hawk   ~  Jun 5, 2009 9:44 am

[3] You're right, but as far as enjoying the games goes, I'm not a big fan of games with a lot of home runs, especially those hit off the end of the bat, or with an "excuse me" swing. The short porch at the old stadium bugged me sometimes, so the way the new place plays isn't up my alley, aesthetically speaking.

I hope those that say it may just be an anomaly to start the season are right. If not, I hope the team figures something out this winter.

4 Shaun P.   ~  Jun 5, 2009 9:56 am

Happy birthday, Cliff! You're getting everything at once - new baby, birthday, and (in a couple of weeks), your first Fathers' Day!

(Speaking as someone who's wife's birthday is just a week after our wedding anniversary, and who's daugther's birthday is close to Christmas - don't let anyone shortchange you by combining events. I got yelled at the one time I tried. ;)

[2] Waiting patiently and getting enough data to draw a reasonable conclusion before taking any actions, unfortunately, does not seem to be the desire of many - but I think you're right. As long as the '09 Yanks don't morph into the '85 Cardinals (87 HR as a team), they'll be fine.

5 yankee23   ~  Jun 5, 2009 10:47 am

[0] That rout of Beckett was actually my first game at Yankee Stadium. The best was in the bottom of the first when Melky scored after running to second on a wild pitch, 'Tek throwing the ball into center, Melky getting caught in a pickle, another bad throw, and finally heading home. From B-R:

"Wild Pitch; Cabrera Scores/Adv on E2 (throw)/unER/No RBI"

6 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 5, 2009 11:00 am

I love your morning recaps Diane, but I'm afraid you're off-base about wind currents. I just see no possible way that a ballpark moved all of 500 feet, and facing the exact same direction, could have such a significant effect on outcomes. The wind doesn't just change direction or strength because of some building somewhere. These are macro-level factors in which the stadium is an insignificant part.

More simply, the dimensions are inherently not the same. And if you place the outfield map of the old place atop the homerun tracker in this new place, we can easily see that over 30 baseballs are out now where they would have been doubles or fly balls in the old place. It's really as simple as that.

More evidence - the number of doubles have actually dropped. If the wind was truly a factor, all balls would be affected. They're not. The only balls that have changed their outcomes are the ones now hit to shorter areas of the park. Take those out and the offense is indistinguishable from last year.

Finally, many people are going to look for an effect of weather and winds on offense in the park. And they're not going to find anything. This isn't the case of a Canadian team moving to Florida or Colorado. They moved across the street. Enough about magical wind currents! Please!?

7 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 5, 2009 11:13 am

Instead of that invective, let's talk actual data. Please, someone who beleives the magical wind theory explain this to me:

Yankee hitters - 50 HR, 47 doubles = + 15 HR (-22 doubles) as compared to the road
Opposing hitters - 42 HR, 45 doubles = +13 HR (-12 doubles)
Yankee hitters - 35 HR, 65 doubles = + 22 doubles (-15 HR) as compared to home
Opposing hitters - 29 HR, 57 doubles = +12 doubles (-13 HR)

Why do Yankee hitters hit more homers at home, but more doubles on the road?

Why do opposing hitters hit more homers at Yankees Stadium 2.0 and fewer on the road?

This park is a homer heaven. But it has nothing to do with the wind. Doubles are simply turning into homeruns because the fences in the alleys are closer by 5 to 10 feet.

8 Bum Rush   ~  Jun 5, 2009 11:26 am

Finally, look at this homerun tracker and count how many have been “just out” especially in right-center and left-center where the wall goes straight and it used to be curved.

You can stop once you pass 30.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 5, 2009 11:52 am

I hate to keep harping on this, but while HRs are up...total runs are not. So, bringing up MLB wanting to avoid "football scores" is irrelevant.

Also, I saw a recent blurb saying the new YS was just behind the pace of of the new Enron field for most HRs in a season. Interestingly, after the first season, HR production steadily declined in the park formerly know as "Ten Run". Does anyone know if changes were made to curb the HR flow? If not, perhaps that is an example of why we shouldn't be jumping to conclusions based on 30 games.

10 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 5, 2009 12:18 pm

Interesting stuff on that Hit Tracker .... I took a look, and found this out:

For the year, the wind has added an average 2.7 feet to the distance of homers.

This may not seem like much, but note that since May 20, 29 of the last 30 homers hit have been wind-aided to some degree (by an average of 7.5 feet).

Prior to May 20, the air temperature reduced the homer distance by 1.8 feet.
Since May 20, its added 0.7 feet.

11 zack   ~  Jun 5, 2009 12:27 pm

And as to the note about sample size and statistical conclusions, while I am no expert, I am almost 100% positive that in fact the sample size thus far is more than enough to draw a significant conclusion. Whether it ends up holding, there is enough data right now to make a fairly confident claim that NYS is a homer happy park.

And yes, getting rid of that stupid tiny manual scoreboard, moving that fence back a tad and raising the wall up would do wonders I imagine

12 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 5, 2009 1:33 pm

[10] It seems like you are assuming that the YSII was wind neutral. I didn't run all the numbers, but a quick scan reveals balls aided by 20-40 feet.

13 The Hawk   ~  Jun 5, 2009 1:52 pm

I don't care if the dimensions are different, or the wind is different, or invisible home run fairies are helping balls clear the fence, there have been a ridiculous amount of home runs and they should do something if and when they can.

14 thelarmis   ~  Jun 5, 2009 1:55 pm

Happy Birthday, Cliff!!!

ooh, Jazz Tokyo, hoppystone and I would all have a ball if we end up getting "Grant Green" in our farm system! : )

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 5, 2009 2:22 pm


I ran the 2008 numbers, and they were wind-aided by 3.1 feet on average.

Through June 5th of 2008, the wind helped by 3.93 feet on average.

Hmmmm ....

16 PJ   ~  Jun 5, 2009 2:32 pm

[0] I'm much less worried about Wang than I am the tragically flawed way he's been handled for going on eight months since he was cleared to resume throwing from a mound last October 15th! I only hope somebody teaches the hump how to run, for Christ's sakes! I mean, isn't running an integral part of baseball and developing a hurler's stamina and leg strength or something?

"Thank goodness there aren't any chain link fences around anymore, right?"

IIRC, I think Damon hurt himself on a section of "coated" chain link fence earlier this season (in Camden Yards?). I believe there is still more than one MLB facility that still employs that type of fence at one place or another within it. The Yankees' facility in Tampa is chock full of the stuff to this day...

So you know, that's Willard Scott in that McDonald's commercial as Ronald! Willard created the role of Ronald McDonald, designed the costume, and starred in the first commercials. I believe that one is from 1963, Diane.

This from a guy who actually remembers the stainless steel counters in those old stores with the arches astride the building...

Happy Birthday Cliff!

: )

17 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 5, 2009 2:48 pm

[15] So, the wind actually helped out more last year? I guess there goes the wind as a culprit.

[16] Yep...that's Willard Scott!

18 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 5, 2009 2:59 pm


More data ...

through June 5 of last year, homers traveled 381 feet on average
through 2009 year-to-date: average distance of 389, and since May 20, 394 feet

19 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 5, 2009 3:13 pm

[18] Which also seems to discredit the theories that the HRs are "cheaper" in the new place. What I'd really like to see is an iron clad accounting for the differences in the dimensions, as well as an accurate count of how many balls wouldn't have gone over last year.

20 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 5, 2009 3:14 pm

year true dis speed elev horiz apex std dist
2009 388.9 102.9 28.2 84.8 86.6 387.1
2008 381.5 101.4 29.8 83.7 90.5 378.7 (through 6/5)

True Dist. (True Distance, a.k.a. Actual Distance) - If the home run flew uninterrupted all the way back to field level, the actual distance the ball traveled from home plate, in feet. If the ball's flight was interrupted before returning all the way down to field level (as is usually the case), the estimated distance the ball would have traveled if its flight had continued uninterrupted all the way down to field level.
Std Distance (Standard Distance) - The estimated distance in feet the home run would have traveled if it flew uninterrupted all the way down to field level, and if the home run had been hit with no wind, in 70 degree air at sea level. Standard distance factors out the influence of wind, temperature and altitude, and is thus the best way of comparing home runs hit under a variety of different conditions.
Speed Off Bat - The calculated speed of the baseball as it left the bat, in miles per hour (mph).
Elev. Angle - the angle above horizontal at which the ball left the bat, in degrees. Typically between 25 and 45 degrees for home runs.
Horiz. Angle - the initial direction of the ball as it left the bat in degrees, where 45 degrees is straight down the right field line, 90 degrees is straight over second base and 135 degrees is straight down the left field line.
Apex - the highest point reached by the ball in flight above field level, in feet.

21 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 5, 2009 3:16 pm


So .... perhaps since we now have more fastball pitchers on our staff, we thus have greater speed of batted balls, and thus greater proclivity for homers?

22 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 5, 2009 3:20 pm

[21] More power...more power pitchers...sounds like a recipe for more HRs.

23 Diane Firstman   ~  Jun 5, 2009 3:50 pm


Slightly faster bat speed, slightly lower elevation and angle of impact, shorter fences in some spots = longer drives.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver