Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yankee Stadium Dimensions: Conspiracy or Ineptitude?

When New Yankee Stadium opened this spring, it was widely praised for including every modern amenity and convenience. Indeed, it seemed the Yankees had thought of everything in their design of the $1.5 billion dollar stadium - except one. The rulebook.

Old Yankee Stadium was famed for it's short right-field fence. When the Yankees were dominating baseball in the 1950's, the right field foul pole stood only 296 feet from home plate. It seemed like a distinct advantage to A's owner Charles Finley, who decided his team deserved a playing field that magnified their strengths. In 1964, Finley stocked his team with sluggers and moved the right field fence in, making it 296 feet from home. He painted the wooden bleachers in the corner with his motivation: Pennant Porch.

However, Finley wasn't the first to shorten fences to benefit his team. In fact, Major League Baseball had recognized the problem and amended their official rulebook. Before the season started, MLB officials swiftly put Finley in his place, citing the following rule:

Rule 1.04, Amendment A

Any Playing Field constructed by a professional club after June 1,
1958, shall provide a minimum distance of 325 feet from home base
to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on the right and left
field foul lines, and a minimum distance of 400 feet to the center
field fence.
According to wikipedia, New Yankee Stadium opened in April, 2009, over 50 years past the June 1st, 1958 deadline. While recognizing that wikipedia is not necessarily a source for unmolested information, the page also states that the right field line is a mere 314 feet, with left field at 318 feet.

How did Bud Selig and other officials react to such gross neglect of MLB rules? Here's the email I sent to Commissioner Selig.

Mr. Selig

My name is Michael Haas. I'm an investigative journalist for the independent online magazine, Alright Hamilton. It has recently come to our attention that the playing field dimensions at new Yankee Stadium appear to break MLB mandated rules, specifically rule 1.04, amendment A, which reads thusly:

Any Playing Field constructed by a professional club after June 1,
1958, shall provide a minimum distance of 325 feet from home base
to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on the right and left
field foul lines, and a minimum distance of 400 feet to the center
field fence.

The rules are clear, yet the stadium in question was constructed well after the aforementioned date of June 1st, 1958 and features foul line distances of 318 and 314 feet, respectively.

For the sake of fairness and objectivity, we seek any comments you or other officials have, before we publish the story.
Here is the prompt response I received from Selig's cronies:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your email, as we have received your inquiry and will respond as soon as possible.

We appreciate your patience as we work to ensure that each inquiry receives the detailed response that it deserves.

Thank you again for taking the time to write!

Regards,
Fan Feed Back Customer Support

Whether it's just a simple oversight by the lords of the game, or an intricate, far-reaching conspiracy, one thing is obvious: it's wrong. There aren't any differing interpretations of the MLB rulebook, but there also seems to be a gross lack of checks and balances. It's clear that blatant neglect of the rules of the game will not stop here. Teams will always try to find an edge, and tinkering with the field and it's dimensions is something to which Selig and company clearly turn a blind eye.

Given the current atmosphere of relaxed baseball regulation, the White Sox could and would shorten the baseline to 80 feet, seeing as how they're so fat.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

It might make more sense for fat slow teams to lengthen the basepaths. That would negate the advantage of their faster opponents but would have no effect on big guys who mash home runs. In over-built US Cellular, the bases could be, say, 96 feet apart. It would be kind of funny seeing Punto dive into first and come up one body length short.


FrontRowSeats

Karin said...

its=its
it's=it is

I'd say conspiracy.

tfrezac2002 said...

I think the commission's office is too busy trying to figure out how to get steroid users into the hall and how to keep Joe Jackson and Pete Rose out.

bizmarkie507 said...

My baseball history is very poor, but is it safe to say Selig is one of the most incompetent Commissioners in the history of Major League Baseball?

soup said...

"I'm an investigative journalist for the independent online magazine, Alright Hamilton."

We need business cards. And briefcases.

But seriously, this was really interesting to read. With all the talk about new yankee stadium, I can't believe I haven't heard anyone mention this rule. We demand answers commissioner.

soup said...

Oh, and did you email LEN3? He might know something.

jammyman said...

From an april ny times article:

But the rules state that it is only “preferable” that foul lines are 320 feet or more and that the distance to center field is 400 feet or more, and the “recommended” distance from home plate to the backstop is 60 feet, although some clubs, including the Mets, leave just 45 feet of foul ground to give fans a closer view of the action and sell more prime seats.

“The distances, I would like them to be more fair,” said Bob Watson, Major League Baseball’s vice president for standards and on-field operations. “But if the owner of the team wants to make it 289 down the line, that’s their choice.”

I'm calling BS. It was probably selig's idea.

more cheating:

http://blogs.nypost.com/sports/st/archives/2009/04/3_up_the_new_st.html

soup said...

"But the rules state that it is only “preferable” that foul lines are 320 feet or more and that the distance to center field is 400 feet or more, and the “recommended” distance from home plate"

This is before the amendment Haas mentioned.

Haas is right and the Yankees should forfeit all of their home wins.

jammyman said...

oh i was definitely agreeing. i was saying that the new york paper and mlb is full of crap.

haasertime said...

thats the whole reason for this. I want those 4 wins vs the twins forfeited. It took me three straight days of research to find that loophole. twins should thank me.