Another team looking to pump the ballpark juice: The San Diego Padres are considering whether to move in the fences at Petco Park to make the place more batter-friendly.
Right now Petco Park is a spacious ballpark, reaching 400 feet in both power alleys. As a result, pitchers tend to do well at the ballpark: Heath Bell was amazingly successful as a Padres and much more human as a Met and a Marlin, anecdotally speaking. (The old Total Baseball ballpark rankings showed the same friendliness toward pitchers.) Fans see a lot of close games; good for hardcore fans, not so good for the casual fan who wants to see the ball sail out of the ballpark.
Hence the reason for the change.
“I do believe it is too extreme right now,” Padres interim CEO Tom Garfinkel told the San Diego Union-Times. “It will still be a pitcher’s ballpark. But a hitter should be rewarded if he crushes it. And if a team is down 4-0, they should feel there is some hope. It’s just too extreme.”
Of course, that same hope that fuels Padres fans will fuel opposing players.
This isn’t the first time the Padres have moved in the fences: originally the right-field power alley was 410 feet. And teams certainly do tinker with fences. We all remember the Detroit Tigers moving in the fences at Comerica Park; we all remember the Minnesota Twins erecting Plexiglas shields to prevent the number of home runs at the Metrodome; we all remember the Boston Red Sox moving in the right-field fences at Fenway Park to benefit Ted Williams. More recently, the New York Mets moved in the home-run fence at Citi Field this season (too few home games to draw any conclusions, though), and the Twins decided to retain the current Target Field configuration despite some shots taken at the spacious outfield by departing players.
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