Thursday, August 5, 2010

Catwalk Giveth, Catwalk Taketh Away

Tough day when your stadium costs you a possible win. The Twins scored the game-winning run this afternoon when what seemed to be a jam-escaping pop-up in the top of the 9th ricocheted of one of the catwalks in The Trop. The (fair) ball fell to the ground and Jason Repko scored.

"It totally indicates why you need a new ballpark in this area regardless of where you put it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, according to the St. Pete Times. "It just needs to be a real baseball field."

A catwalk ricochet just as easily could have benefited the Rays as it hurt them. It's like instant replay or a bad strike zone; at least it affects both teams the same way.

But yes, it's easy to understand Maddon's frustrations with The Trop when an unnatural occurrence costs your team a game. At least it was 72 degrees and clear inside the stadium...the skies above St. Pete opened up not-too-long after the game ended.

UPDATE: The Tampa Tribune reports it's just the second time a ball has struck the super-high "A-ring" of the catwalk, but Maddon called it "the perfect commercial advertisement for a reason to have a new ballpark."

He acknowledges it works both ways, but "to lose a game in a pennant situation like that because of a roof truly indicates why there's a crying need for a new ballpark in this area," he said. "It just needs to be a real baseball field where, if you lose the pennant by one game and look back at a game like that because the roof got in the way, we'd be very upset."

Proof the roof giveth and taketh away: the only other time a catwalk has directly affected the outcome of a game was three years ago when Carlos Pena's "single" off the B-ring helped the Rays score the winning run. That incident was also in the final inning (10th) and ironically, against the Twins.

UPDATE 2: Yahoo's Big League Stew points out that the Yankees' Mark Teixeira predicted the catwalks would decide a game some day: "I know in (Cowboys) Stadium, the punters were screwing around in preseason hitting the scoreboard, but they said it was a dead ball and you re-punt it. It seems to me if a guy skies a ball and it ricochets (off the catwalk) ... I mean, what if that's the seventh game of the World Series? Really, that ball is an out 999 out of 1,000 times."

Stew added back in April that "hitting the higher rings is rare enough of an occurrence that I have no problem with the catwalks remaining one of those quirky things about baseball." Of course, things like the ivy at Wrigley, the Green Monster at Fenway, and the hill in Houston are all quirks that don't play favorites when they affect the game.

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