04.22.11

Reconfigure New Jerk Citi (Or, Marty’s Noble Blow Against Company Man Status

Posted in Baseball, Ugly New Stadiums at 7:41 pm by

Following an aberrant 9-run outburst against the Astros Thursday night, as of this writing the Mets have reverted to anemic form, being held scoreless after four innings at home against Arizona’s Joe Saunders. Though it seems a bit churlish to suggest Saunders is anything less than a Cy Young candidate and perhaps it will take the Amazins’ another year or two to get a real handle on Citi Field’s vast dimensions, MLB.com’s Marty Noble argues, “right field at Citi need not be Yankee Stadium-esque, but it needs to be smaller and more inviting to men who swing the bat.”  For once, the disclaimer, “this story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs” actually carries some weight.

(l-r : Fred and Jeff Wilpon, shown earlier this afternoon, upon being told the latter had been found guilty of “contrived quirks”)

Right field is the rub. The club isn’t about to turn away from the advertising revenue the Mo Zone generates in right. Its less-than-stuffed pockets need all available pennies. But the Mets ought to eliminate, adjust or move the Zone and make life easier for their best player and most recognizable face. Eliminate Mo, add some seats — they may be necessary again one day — and give David Wright a fighting chance to hit 30 home runs.

The Zone does little to enhance the place, and never was any sort of architectural necessity caused by the cramped quarters of neighborhood blocks and buildings (see Wrigley and Fenway and some decommissioned arenas). It merely is a contrived quirk, a barrier in more ways than one. It’s not poppycock to suggest Wright’s career, if it is to be spent in Flushing, will be significantly squeezed by an advertising alcove. And the benefit of that would be what?

Ike Davis wouldn’t be undermined by a more reachable set of right-field stands, nor would any of the other home run aspirants. But Wright is the one most affected by what has become a No Zone for him. He can hit the ball out in any direction. His rocket home run to left-center in the fourth inning Thursday reaffirmed that. Joe DiMaggio, playing in the old place in the Bronx, wouldn’t have had the time — even if he had the space — to catch up to that one.

But how often can Wright hit a pitch to the left side of second base when he sees so many pitches on the outer third of the plate or off the plate altogether? He can’t reach some of them, hence his 23 strikeouts in 73 at-bats. And when he can reach them, he can rarely can reach the area beyond the Zone. He has big league power to right-center and right, but opposing pitchers need not concern themselves with it because of an alcove, an ad and picnic seating.

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