Random thoughts about the new park
1.Monday night, I saw a closeup of the home run feature in center field; I was able to see some of the details that the early look photos didn’t capture. For instance, at the top, the whorls are reminiscent (to me, anyway) of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. For the first time, it didn’t look like an over-the-top piece of yard art. There is texture, detail, and depth that make the “monstrosity” and “hideous and tacky” descriptions I’ve read seem like they might be a bit premature. I agree that it would be way out of place in Arlington, St. Louis, or Baltimore, but in Miami, it seems to fit. The new ballpark isn’t a tribute to early 20th century parks, with brick and wrought iron. It’s a contemporary stadium that simply doesn’t follow the stark, colorless, minimalist look of most contemporary design. The swirl in the center field wall is interesting, and I think it will prove to be a place where a double goes to get swallowed up and spat out as a triple. We’ll see how the design holds up in ten years, but for now, I like it.
2.My only gripe so far is that the padding around the backstop doesn’t look like it was finished very well, as there are visible wrinkles and puckers in the fabric. OK…I’m not a big fan of all that green, either. They could have chosen a color from the new logo and I might like it better.
3.There’s a lot of grass to cut in the outfield. I watched Emilio Bonifacio get a good jump on a ball hit to the gap, and even with his speed, he couldn’t run it down. An example of one doesn’t mean anything, but it looks like an awful lot of outfield to cover.
4.Along those lines, Gaby Sanchez was interviewed on-camera during the game, and he used the term “fair” to describe his first impressions of how the new park will affect play. He was referring to a closed-up configuration of roof and windows. By all accounts, the situation is highly fluid when there are different configurations, most of which point to a pitcher-friendly park. It will be interesting to see if the configuration of the roof and windows becomes a subject of complaint and protest from visiting opponents. It’s a part of baseball lore that the length of the grass and the direction of cut is one of the subtle ways that teams try to tilt the table. I’m sure the hoary traditionalists in the baseball press will give a big chunk of the credit for a playoff appearance to the new ballpark. I can’t wait to see how this plays out over the years.
5.Having played a lot of baseball decked out in the tools of ignorance, I have a pretty clear picture of the effect air conditioning will have on the players. Playing six innings behind the plate in a Jupiter men’s league game in June reduces me to a feeble thing with scarcely enough energy to lift a small kitten. John Buck has got to be feeling pretty good about 81 games in cool, dry comfort. I think the biggest first-season impact we will see from the new ballpark is players staying at the top of their game far deeper into the season than they did in recent years.