Friday, October 21, 2011

Gentlemen, Move In This Wall!

At Citi Field in 2011, long fly balls came, they died and opposing teams conquered in 2011. The Mets finished with their worst home record (34-47) since 1993, hitting 50 HR at Citi Field in the process. That came after a 49 HR season in the ballpark's inaugural season and a 63 HR campaign in 2010.

All year long, Sandy Alderson heard the fans crying for the fences to be moved in to allow for more home runs by David Wright, Jason Bay, et al.  In fact, If I had a dollar for every time an announcer said "that would have been a home run at any other ballpark" after every long fly ball crashed into the Great Wall of Flushing, I'd be able to afford seats at Yankee Stadium (which I would sell on StubHub, naturally).

So what did Alderson say after witnessing his first season of Mets baseball, a season in which Carlos Beltran's 15 homers led the team in that category, despite playing the last two months of the season as a San Francisco Giant?

"Gentlemen, move in this wall!"

According to Adam Rubin at ESPNNewYork, Citi Field's dimensions will indeed change in time for the 2012 season, with some changes being significant.

The aforementioned Great Wall of Flushing, the 16 foot monstrosity in left field that has seen more dings than dingers, will not be lowered because it is a structural part of the ballpark.  However, a wall half its height (8 feet) will be erected in front of it, with all balls clearing it now being home runs instead of doubles or long outs.  That will cause for a modest reduction in distance down the left field foul line and a more significant reduction in distance in the power alley.

In addition, the MoZone area in right field will be no mo', as that area will be filled in, thus eliminating the overhang of the Pepsi Porch and allowing for more balls to leave the yard in right field.

The most significant change will be in right-center, where the deepest part of the ballpark once stood.  That area, which had been 415 feet from home plate since 2009, will now be moved in to 390 feet, a 6% decrease in depth.  The change will allow for more home runs by David Wright, who prior to 2009, was an excellent opposite field home run hitter, and will give Ike Davis the opportunity to hit balls 60 feet over the wall instead of just 35 feet past it.

Of course, the changes in Citi Field's dimensions will also mean that Mets pitchers will have to pitch differently, as the luxury of throwing a pitch where the hitter could hit a deep, but playable, fly ball will no longer be an option.  (Are you listening to me, Mike Pelfrey?)  But this change will clearly make Mets hitters breathe a sigh of relief, as they will no longer be frustrated by home run trots that turn into slow walks back to the dugout after the ball is caught near the wall.  It will also allow for free agent hitters to not automatically say "thanks, but no thanks" when the option of playing 81 games a year at Citi Field as a Met comes up.

Let's face it.  David Wright has not been the same player since Shea Stadium was renamed Parking Area B.  Jason Bay has also not lived up to his $66 million potential (a.k.a. his contract), although he does hustle and play better than expected defense.  Moving in the walls and lowering the fences should make both players' power numbers approach the levels that were expected of them.  It should also (for the front office's sake) put more fannies in the seats, as attendance at Citi Field has dropped significantly in each of its three seasons.

The fans have spoken and the Mets have answered.  Citi Field will now be a "fair" ballpark (a la Shea Stadium) as opposed to being a pitcher's park.  Let's just hope the cosmetic change to the ballpark does more good for the players dressed in the home whites than the ones in the road greys. 

4 comments: said...

Can't tell you how annoying this is. I hoped Alderson would bring an end to the fans telling the Mets what to do. David Wright slams his helmet because the fence is too deep, boo hoo! You have these supposed young stud pitchers getting ready to come up to the majors and you take away the one tactical advantage you had. Opponents hated playing there even more. The deep fences were the only thing I really liked about the Copy Cat Field in Queens. I cut my games attended in half this year and will keep on cutting.

Rich S said...

The notion that this is somehow beneficial is preposterous to me. Until the team (especially the pitching) improves, all this is doing is helping the opposition. And they're trying to sell it as "righting some wrong". What's wrong has been the people occupying the jerseys that say "Mets" on the front. Good players defeat inferior players, regardless of venue or wall dimensions. UGH!

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

It'll teach our young pitchers to try to get more ground balls. The Mets employed 23 pitchers this year and only seven of them got more ground ball outs than fly ball outs. A double play is a pitcher's best friend and it's much harder to get one by allowing opponents to hit balls in the air. I think it'll all work out.

Rich S said...

I hope, Ed. I hope.