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Yankee Stadium Homers: Of Design or Negligence?

One of the biggest early season stories so far has been the explosion of home runs at the new Yankee Stadium. Bombs are flying over the right field wall at near record rates, making the original Yankee Stadium feel like Petco Park.

While the dimensions of the field are allegedly identical to the prior stadium, something is making a significant statistical impact in the Bronx. More often than not, the culprit cited is a different wind pattern than in the original stadium.

That's what Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan had in mind when he undertook a recent article, a piece in which he tried to tackle what made the new Yankee Stadium a "hitters Valhalla," (his term, not mind, though I wish it was).

First, he went to Canadian engineering firm RWDI, which claims to be an industry leader in wind pattern analysis. An RWDI spokesman said that the evaluation the firm made on Yankee Stadium's patterns was "not exhaustive."

As for Populous, the architecture firm formerly known as HOK that helped design the new stadium, it said that it couldn't comment because all discussion on the topic had to go through the team.

In fact, that's where the whole stadium design mess should sit, too. The Yankees used hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to pay for a stadium that is on track to top the single-season home run record set by Coors Field, a tiny ballpark in the thin air of mile-high altitude. How could this have happened?

Perhaps it's because the team spent so much time and money focusing on the frill aspects of the new Yankee Stadium. Major League Baseball's most historic franchise plays in a brand spanking new ballpark that has more standalone eateries than any other. It has its own, on-site professional butcher, and it has as many luxury suites as you can cram into a ballpark without adding on extra tiers.

Is it possible that the Yankees just skimped on the wind studies because they didn't think that they could possibly prevent -- or prognosticate -- such a significant change in how the stadium plays? Sure it is. It's also possible that the Yankees were just trying to fast track a way to feel ok about the stadium's design, as the comments from RWDI insinuate.

Whatever the reason, the amount of home runs flying out of the new palace in the Bronx is beyond startling; it's at the level where it makes teams start playing home run derby, not baseball. It seems hard to believe that's what the Yankees were going for when they built the stadium (after all, why go out and sink so much money in power pitchers if you really just need guys to hit dingers?), but that's irrelevant now. Like it or not, the new Yankee Stadium is an absolute launching pad, and all New York can do is try to find a way to fix it in the future.

By Cameron Smith  |  June 2, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Yankees  | Tags: AL East, Jeff Passan, Yankee Stadium, Yankees  
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