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Thursday, May 20, 2004

STILL STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Just to update the ongoing battle between the Blue Jays and Sportsco for control of the SkyDome... well, actually there isn't much of an update to give you. Dave Perkins has a new article on the whole sordid affair. (Listen to how grumpy J.P. sounds in the article. I suppose that's part of his job as a GM.)

The bad news, and it's mostly bad news, is that it doesn't look like the two sides are any closer on coming to an agreement on a fair price for the facility. The good news is that the Sportsco people are making rumblings about putting in a new playing surface and hopefully that means FieldTurf. (Although, the Sportsco people make the ridiculous claim that the AstroTurf will be good until 2009. My ass.) I say hopefully because I've tasted food from the new concession stands Sportsco brought in a few years ago and I'm not sure quality is their first priority.

Why are the Sportsco people replacing the JumboTron? The JumboTron is fine, it would be last on my list of things to replace. I'm guessing it's the cheapest upgrade they can make while still saying they've made an upgrade. It also sounds like Sportsco will sell the naming rights to the stadium soon. Kraft Dinner Stadium? Arby's Field? The Trojan ConDome? Oh boy, I can't wait. ( I actually like that last one, although the SkyDome looks more like a diaphragm while the nearby CN Tower is the world's tallest phallic symbol.)

Despite Perkins somewhat bleak view of the SkyDome in his piece, I think it's still a decent facility. The sightlines are good, it's still in pretty good shape, it's in a very accessible location, and when the dome is open the atmosphere is that much better. The new retro stadiums have highlighted the SkyDome's aesthetic shortcomings, but I think the relative genericness of the facility provides a lot of room, a blank canvas if you will, for someone to come in and give the SkyDome a more personalized baseball feel. Putting in FieldTurf and doing something with those eternally empty nose-bleed seats would go a long way towards that.

The irony is that if the Jays are successful it might actually impede their ability to buy the SkyDome. If the team starts playing well they'll draw more fans, and more fans will mean more money for Sportsco and less of an incentive to sell the SkyDome. Conspiracy theorists start your machinations... now.

Until Rogers can buy the SkyDome and start implementing the changes necessary for a more friendly baseball environment, I feel that the small rush of enthusiasm that has been garnered with the Ricciardi/Rogers era will seem like more of a false start than a full-on baseball revolution.

YOU GOT THE WHO IN THE WHAT NOW?

While Randy Johnson was making history, did Jason Schmidt really throw 144 pitches last night? Jason Schmidt with the surgically repaired elbow? The same Jason Schmidt who couldn't start in the playoffs because his arm was hanging by a tendon?

Oh, I get it.

The Giants aren't making the playoffs this year.

Schmidt did end up with a one-hitter, making it possibly the greatest night of pitching since Koufax matched up against Bob Hendley one September evening (not that the Unit and Schmidt were squaring off in the same game).

First 18 K by Sheets, now 13 K and no baserunners against Johnson. Man, that Braves offense stinks.

UPDATE: Christian Ruzich points out that Michael Barrett got a hit after an "extremely borderline" pitch was called for a ball and not strike three. Just goes to show you how much luck is involved.

UPDATE II: Jon Weisman has an inning-by-inning breakdown of Schmidt's pitch count. Interesting word, "breakdown". I wonder how else we could use the words "Jason Schmidt" and "breakdown" in a sentence?

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