Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bad Field for Scranton Creates Problems for Big Boys, Too

Today I went with my friend Brent and longtime blog reader Gayle to Scranton for the second-annual LoHud blog group meet up.

We had only just parked when those in the car next to us told us the doubleheader was canceled due to unplayable field conditions.

After having driven for two hours none of us were in the mood to turn back immediately, so we got out and ended up eating lunch at the Legends Restaurant which is attached to the ballpark.

From the restaurant, large windows look out onto the field, and we could see, first hand, the unplayable field.

In right field, which was closest to us, the field was torn up as though someone had kept stomping the grass with their spikes.

The infield was still wet--even after two days of sun and a helicopter that--somehow (ask Shelley Duncan, he knows)--tried to dry the field.

Some of the Pawtucket players came out to try to have a catch; as we watched we could see them sinking into the ground.

Scranton Yankees' officials acknowledged that the problem is a drainage problem that dates back to when they replaced the turf field with a grass field; the problem has been made all the more the worse by the absurdly wet June.

The problem has gotten so bad, now, that there is talk of finding somewhere else for the team to play. Simply put, too many games are getting postponed or canceled outright. It's not just that it makes it hard for the league, which has to reschedule all of the games, or the team, which has to manage the logistics of double headers and the like, but it also means that players that need to play don't.

For example, Jose Molina was supposed to do his rehabbing at Scranton. Because the field has been so bad, he is instead doing his rehabbing at Trenton.

Pitchers that need to pitch have their slot pushed back and prospects that need to play to develop aren't getting the chance to do so.

Every team, except those with domed or retractable roofs, has a game or two delayed by rain or rained out, but what has happened in Scranton is certainly abnormal.

There are rumors now that the team may consider playing games at Syracuse or Lehigh Valley, which are the only other "close" places with facilities that could handle an AAA team. The other option is to find a field--any field--and play, but Scranton, like the big boys, has season ticket holders to appease.

One can talk all he or she wants about how a professional ballclub, especially one associated with the Yankees, should never have to worry about an unplayable field, but right now, that's not the immediate concern.

Right now, the Yankees need to solve the problem.

While the Yankees' top prospects right now may be at the lower levels, AAA does have Austin Jackson, Mark Melancon and Ivan Nova.

All of them need to play.

They deserve a field to play on.