November 08, 2011

No Fences

Richard Rys on Philadelphia Magazine's blog last week had a one of those posts that's missing one very obvious fact that undermines the entire argument.

In the piece, titled "Letís All Stop to Laugh at the Mets," Rys rips the New York Mets, he writes, "not for their Madoff debts, or their willingness to trade nearly anyone on their roster. The latest knee-slapping news out of Flushing is the teamís plan to lower the outfield fences and bring them closer to home plate by as much as 17 feet."

This is especially pathetic, Rys believes, because the Mets are terrible and cash-strapped and there's no reason to think moving the fences back will make any appreciable difference. The Phillies, on the other hand, would never do such a thing:

Of course, Phils fans remember Atlanta Braves pitcher and future Hall-of-Famer John Smoltzís opinion of Citizens Bank Park in its early days: ďThey canít ever win in Philadelphia Ö Thereís no way free-agent pitchers are going to go there Ö Iím not even going to call it a baseball field Ö Itís a joke.Ē Smoltz wasnít alone; plenty of analysts, including former Phils John Kruk and Curt Schilling, were down on CBP and its short fences back around 2005. Fast-forward to today. I know a few guys named Halladay, Lee and Oswalt who had no problems with the cozy dimensions at their Pattison Avenue workplace.
Has Rys forgotten? The Phillies, after Citizen's Bank Park played as an extreme hitters park its first few years, moved the fence back in left field after the 2005 season. And three years later, they won the World Series.

Now I'm not saying the Phillies embarked on a huge run of success BECAUSE of the fence decision; they probably didn't, nor do I think it'll make much of a difference for the Mets. But I don't see how making a ballpark dimension change, which teams do not all that rarely, is a sign of being pathetic. Nor do I see how the Mets are worthy of mockery for making such a change, when the Phils made a similar change not that long ago.

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 8, 2011 09:54 AM
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