5 day til Christmas and there really isn't much for news out there.
What there is is mostly reaction to Mark Shapiro's comments on putting real grass into Rogers. I'm still of the same opinion, I always figured grass was the longest of long shots, but I though out new Team President could have been a little more 'political' with his comments on it. Why not say 'we are still waiting on the results from Guelph University study of the issue, and, until then we are planning on going ahead with the dirt infield for this coming season.' I might also say that I thought the new turf, install in Rogers Centre, for last season, was pretty good.
To me, that would be honest and have the added value of not getting people upset. But then I get that whatever Shapiro says will get people upset. When he uses the exact same language as Alex did, about building up depth in the starting rotation, people complain, so maybe there is no way he can say the right thing. Maybe people will always complain.
Distressingly, under the Blue Jays' new regime, grass has become a four-letter word.
I'm not sure that's an fair interruption of Shapiro's remarks.
He goes on:
In his final briefing with reporters prior to the New Year, Jays president Mark Shapiro strongly suggested he did not view the installation of a natural surface at the Rogers Centre as a priority, and that free agents don't even mention the unique (in a bad way) artificial surface as a deterrent from signing.
I don't really buy that free agents are all that worried about the turf, I think, on the list of reasons free agents don't sign with a team, I would guess that money would be the top 5 reasons, chance of winning might be in the top 10. Maybe not wanting to come to a scary foreign country might factor in. Turf would be a long way down, I think.
This is crazy talk. The artificial turf at the Rogers Centre has forever been a negative in terms of the Jays' ability to compete and sign veteran free agent players. (Well that, and a five-year maximum on long-term contracts; there was a time when it actually was a three-year max.) As Dick Allen, the former slugging first baseman of the Phillies and White Sox in the 1960s and '70s said: "If horses won't eat it, I won't play on it."
Really? We are quoting a guy whose career ended in 1977? That's the best we can do to when looking for a player that doesn't like turf? And, if we are using this guy's quote, could we also mention that he did play on fake grass as a member of the Phillies in the 1970's.
Further, the fake stuff has always been a negative in terms of money lost to unnecessary injuries to joints and legs caused by the pounding on an unnaturally hard surface. It has cost the Jays, and other teams that played on turf, countless games lost to injury, with players lost to the disabled list and huge amounts of salary paid out while they heal. And while it's hard to quantify the amount of money lost, it's easy to gauge and estimate the impact in speaking with Jay players, past and present.
I thought that last year's turf was much softer/easier on the joints than the old stuff. Not that I had really seen studies that show that you lose more days to injury with turf over grass. I do agree that the original turf was much harder on the joints, but is the new stuff that much harder on the joints?
Outfielder Carlos Beltran dismissed the Jays as a free agent landing spot because of the playing surface. Instead, he signed with the New York Yankees.
People keep saying this but Beltran himself said:
"When you're healthy you don't care, you can play on concrete and it's fine," he said. "Turf, natural surface it's the same, all I was thinking was being able to be with a team that had the opportunity to maybe be in the playoffs."
So can we please stop using that one. If a player has stated that something isn't true, why keep using it as an example?
The reality is this — artificial turf is simply a bad playing surface. There are reasons why only two franchises — Toronto and the Tampa Bay Rays — still have phony grass as their playing surface of choice. The game of baseball, as we know and love it, sucks when played on the fake stuff.
Oh come on, the game doesn't suck when played on fake grass. I enjoy watching baseball, whether it is on grass or turf. If it sucks, I don't know why so many people watched this year.
The old turf, when it was really fast, made for an interesting game. Back in the 70's, when many teams were playing on fast fake grass, the game did change for awhile. Speed became more important, both on offense and defense, and we had a very exciting and different brand of baseball for a few years there.
Richard goes on to talk about Buck Showalter whining about the turf, but then Buck whines every time the Orioles lose. And he talks about how opposing teams tend to sit their best players when they are in Toronto (so competitive advantage, eh?) which really seems to be to be something that's new. I don't remember opposing teams doing that 10 or 15 years ago. Honestly, it seems to me that managers are using it as an excuse when giving a player a day. Guys rarely play 162 games.
He does mention that the Jays really should do something with the warning track, players should be able to feel when they are on the track. He also talks about a player that got a rubber pellet in the eye, but then players have been getting dirt in their eyes since the dawn of time. I haven't notice pellets getting in players all that much and this kind of turf, with the rubber pellets has been used for awhile, especially in football. If there was an epidemic of players getting rubber in their eyes, I think we would have noticed by now.
In the space of two months, fans here have gone from the thrill of Jose Bautista's flip of the bat to the agony of Mark Shapiro's flip of the bird.
But Richard, that flip of the bat was one of those games that sucked.
I don't think Shapiro or anyone has said that real grass wouldn't be a good thing, but there are reasonable questions on whether it can be put in now. I really think that the time to put in real grass would have been when the park was built.
I still think someone smarter than me will have to tell us that all the work needed to bring grass to Rogers Centre can actually be done. Can the floor of Rogers be modified to allow for drainage? Can you take a jackhammer to the stadium floor without harming the building? How hard would it be to put in ventilation to allow grass to grow? How much will it all cost? Can the roof be modified so that it can be opened and closed in colder weather, if real sunlight is needed?
Can you imagine if they did all the changes needed and then the grass died anyway? It isn't like they could throw turf back in there in a hurry if it didn't work.