As the Yankees return home today, attention once again turns to the home run haven that is the new Yankee Stadium. While overall offensive numbers are not showing a marked increase at the new home, the total number of balls leaving the yard has skyrocketed.
A few days ago, Yanks GM Brian Cashman danced around the issue, and today, Anthony McCarron revisits the case of the home run-happy stadium. The gist of McCarron’s piece is basically that the Yankees are aware of the problem and are looking into it. They will not, however, comment publicly on any studies or solutions, and the team has told Populous, the new name for HOK Sports, to say nothing about it.
For his part, Brian Cashman again denied knowing much about the potential for change at the new stadium. While admitting that the ball is “clearly flying here more than it used to,” he could not tell McCarron why. “It’s not something I’m even thinking about,” Cashman said of any potential renovations to the new home. “Most of the home runs are launched, so I don’t know. We can’t move the subway line.”
Meanwhile, baseball insiders are blaming everything but the stadium. “I think we have a juiced-ball issue that can randomly happen year-to-year,” Cashman said. As home runs are up by nearly 90 percent at new Yankee Stadium and not nearly as much across the league, I find the ball theory hard to believe.
“I think the ball is wound tighter,” added Bowa. “I don’t have documentation to verify it. But the game is cleaner now — the steroids got guys more distance. Fans love home runs and now maybe you can keep homers in the game this way.”
On the flip side of the issue, meteorologists and architects have questioned the Yankees’ claims that the presence of the old stadium has impacted wind patterns in unexpected ways. “Anytime you have large buildings next to each other, you create wind conditions. But these are great, great big buildings. It really takes a lot to effect changes in wind patterns,” Ron Labinski, one of the architects who helped plan the new stadium, said to McCarron. Labinski suggested, albeit tongue-in-cheek, a big fan for right field.
Tom Kines at Accuweather, though, had more to say on the wind issue:
Added Tom Kines, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com: “It’s not like the old Stadium is 500 feet higher or anything like that. I wouldn’t have thought of that as a solution.”
Kines believes the angle of the new Stadium’s stands — they are not as steep as the old park — causes westerly winds to push balls toward the outfield. Some have speculated that the open concourse — something the new Stadium shares with Citizens Bank Park — contributes to the wind, but Kines was unsure whether enclosing the concourses would change anything.
“Other than raising the fences or moving them back, which would both obviously affect seating, I don’t know what their options are, other than finding the best pitching you can get,” Kines said.
I’m currently working on a piece that will look at how many of the home runs hit at new Yankee Stadium would have been out across the street, and the numbers show a significant and meaningful change brought about by the straight wall at the new park. While the wind is a contributing factor, and while it sounds as though the Yankees will address this issue after the season, the simple fix may just be to curve the right field wall. After all, the stadium is supposed to have the same dimensions as the one across the street did. Right now, it does not.