Much has been made of the way balls are flying out of the New Yankee Stadium, with Buster Olney going so far as to call it “a veritable wind tunnel that is rocketing balls over the fences.” In four games the Indians and Yanks combined for twenty homers, and everyone’s wondering why in the hell this is happening. Thankfully, AccuWeather’s Gina Cherundolo took a look at how the Stadium’s layout may be affecting things (h/t THT):
The old Yankee stadium had more stacked tiers and a large upper deck, acting like a solid wall in effect, which would cause the wind to swirl more and be less concentrated. The new Yankee stadium’s tiers are less stacked, making a less sharp slope from the top of the stadium to the field. This shape could enable winds to blow across the field with less restriction. In addition, the slope of the seating would also lead to a “downslope” effect in the field which, depending on wind direction, would tend to cause air to lift up in the right field. Fly balls going into right field during a gusty west wind would be given more of a lift thus carrying the ball farther out into right field.
The pictures above come from the AccuWeather article, and illustrates what they’re trying to say in meteorologist jargon. Ben and I had a good vantage point yesterday, and we noticed how balls hit to right and right-center field just seem to float up there for longer than usual. That certainly fit the “veritable wind tunnel” theory that Olney thinks is a good fit for describing the New Stadium, but the good news is that this problem might not last all year:
If the stadium seating tier shape is indeed the issue, games will only be affected during times with the winds are from a westerly direction and above 10 mph. This typically occurs during the spring and the middle to late fall. The calmer weather during the summer should lead to a smaller number of home runs. In the meantime, the home run derby may continue.
Well that’s welcome news. Of course the cat’s already out of the bag, so every time a homer is hit in The Stadium, it’s because it’s a bandbox. A-Rod comes back in May and hits 35 homers the rest of the way to lead the Yanks to the postseason? It’s because he plays in a bandbox. Jorge Posada has a bounceback year and hits 23 homers? Bandbox. Austin Jackson hits a homer in his first game? Bandbox. David Ortiz hits two homers off a long reliever? He’s healthy and back in ’03-’07 form.You know how it goes.
Assuming the weather holds up, tonight will be the first night game played in the new digs, so we have yet to see how the place plays under the moon. No matter what the studies show, we need a much bigger sample than four games to see how this place really plays. But what’s life without knee jerk reactions?