Home-field edge goes through the roof
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Curt Schilling wants the stadium roof closed when he pitches in Arizona, because he thinks the ball doesn't carry as far that way. Ken Griffey Jr. once told the Mariners to close the roof in Seattle (some think the ball carries farther that way). The Rockies keep their baseballs in a special humidor to keep them from carrying too far in the mile-high air.

Bank One Ballpark
Curt Schilling wants to block out the sun when he pitches at Bank One Ballpark.
Manipulating the field conditions is a long tradition in sports, particularly in baseball.

Back when Maury Wills was running wild, the Giants tried to slow him down by watering the basepaths until they had the consistency of oatmeal. The old White Sox used to keep their baseballs in a freezer to deaden them. And when Jack Morris and the Tigers were in their split-finger heyday, Detroit let the infield grass so thick and so long it was like hitting a groundball through Don King's hair.

It's only with modern technology and the advent of retractable dome stadiums, however, that teams have been able to take this tradition to ridiculous extremes. Don't believe us? Take a look at these proposed stadium innovations designed to boost home-field advantages:

Yankee Stadium
To recreate the original feel of pre-renovation Yankee Stadium, the monuments to Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins will once again be in play -- but only when the Yankees are up to bat, and this time, they will pop up randomly in the middle of the infield. Yikes -- watch out, Nomar!

Yankee Stadium
Visitors to Yankee Stadium will be made to feel even safer.
To better intimidate opponents, the Yankees also will have visiting teams dress at the 161st street subway stop, leaving their valuables safe on the subway platform, which is conveniently just blocks away from the visitors bullpen and the players' wives' seating section.

Cameron Indoor Stadium
So opponents may better appreciate the full student-athlete experience, the visitor's bench will be located four rows inside the student section.

Astros Field
Everything is different since this year's name change, but back when the stadium still carried the Enron name, Houston messed with opponents' minds with an old-fashioned scoreboard that was hand-operated by Arthur Andersen accountants. Inning by inning, the runs would pile up until opponents thought they had an insurmountable lead and then pinch-hit for all their stars. Come the ninth inning, the real score would go up and opponents would learn they were five runs behind -- but it was too late, the Astros had won again!

Fleet Center
For years, opponents complained about those hidden dead and lively spots in the Boston Garden's parquet floor that made dribbling so difficult. Well, the Garden may be gone but Boston's floor is trickier than ever. In addition to the dead wood, there are now nails, banana peels, broken glass, icy patches, trap doors, bear traps and the occasional anti-personnel mine waiting to trip up the unsuspecting visiting player -- and only the Celtics have the map showing the hidden dangers!

Lambeau Field
The amenities of the new Lambeau Field will keep the Packers warm all winter long.
Lambeau Field
Planned revisions to the legendary field include a heated, covered and climate-controlled sideline kept at a constant 74 degrees for the Packers with a fur-lined bench and full Gatorade service from Hooters girls. The visitors bench will be carved from solid ice and permanently located in the shade and in the wind.

Wrigley Field
In an extension of their controversial move to block the view of freeloading fans atop the neighboring rooftops, the Cubs plan to erect screens blocking opposing teams' views of the pitchers mound, the catcher, first base and the entire left side of the infield. Then we'll see who laughs at the Cubs!

The Meadowlands
New York is beefing up its goal-line defense with its controversial new Dead Zone. Opponents seldom score more than once, because after crossing the goal line, they plunge over a sudden 6-foot dropoff into the end zone and find themselves lying next to Jimmy Hoffa, then covered with concrete and New Jersey landfill.

American Airlines Center
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban secretly installed a sophisticated video surveillance system in his team's new home that tapes every inch of the court from 4,376 different camera angles. An experimental computer continuously reads every frame of every video from every angle, searching for bad calls against the Mavericks.

Tiger Woods
Teeing off at the new Augusta will be a tad bit more difficult for Tiger Woods.
Within seconds of a bad whistle, the mistake is broadcast repeatedly on the arena videoboards and TV monitors until the ref is shamed/threatened into reversing the bad call. Naturally, the system ignores poor calls against opponents, instantly erasing them from its memory.

August National
As part of its next Tiger-proofing changes, the course will introduce special Tiger Tees. Woods not only will have to tee off from 50 yards behind his competitors, he'll have to time his shot to sail through the revolving windmill blades, inside the opening and closing barn doors, off the retaining wall, down the drain spout and onto the green. From there, he will have to putt the ball into the clown's mouth to save par.

And finally . . .

Bank One Ballpark
In addition to shutting the roof for Curt Schilling, the Diamondbacks will also turn off the lights when Randy Johnson pitches.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.



Jim Caple Archive

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Caple: Who let the prudes out?

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