Every team in baseball looks for ways to help give their team an advantage when out on the field. Any slight advantage could be the difference between a win and a loss. In past years, pitchers have taken this philosophy to such great lengths that they would conceal pine tar, vaseline, or any other sort of substance to help them get a better grip on the baseball or to get the ball to move more effectively. Because this method goes against the rules of baseball, however, teams looked to more “legal” approaches.
A big thing that teams do is design a ballpark that helps fit their style of play. Colorado’s stadium is high up in the air, allowing the ball to fly out of the ballpark easier, so the Rockies play a more power-based game. The Yankees have that short porch in right field, so they stock their lineup with left-handed hitters who can easily pull that ball down the line into the bleachers. The Phillies have…an invisible force field?
Sitting in last place in their division and sporting the worst record in the MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies realized that something needed to change. Despite being in a “rebuilding year”, Phillies ownership must have gotten tired of losing so terribly. Even for a team rebuilding they have played exceptionally poorly. With a run differential of -98 and a total of 104 home runs given up (7th most in the league), the Phillies needed something to help keep the ball in the ballpark. A simple solution would be to trade for better pitching, but the Phillies are rebuilding. There would be no sense in trading away prospects just to get some better pitching for the present day. They’re planning for the future, not right now. Another idea would be to move the fences back, but they can’t do that midseason. So what other choice did the Phillies have but to put in invisible force fields to keep the ball from going out? It truly is quite the revolutionary and fool-proof plan, the only problem is, it’ll sometimes backfire on you.
During last night’s Cardinals-Phillies game, the force field must have been malfunctioning because the Phillies gave up three home runs to the Cardinals. Luckily, the Phillies were able to tie the game up at 5 and send it into extras. But immediately in the tenth, the Cards put across two to give themselves a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the 10th. The first batter up for the Phillies in the bottom half of the inning was Andrew Knapp. With a 3-2 count on him, Knapp hit a long fly ball to right field. The maintenance workers must have been playing around with the force field generator, trying to get it to work, and accidentally turned it back on because the ball appeared to ricochet off of nothing. The ball bounced back into play keeping Knapp at first base, preventing the Phillies from coming within one. Good on the crew for doing their job, but too bad on the timing. That home run could have been the kickstart the Phil’s offense needed to come back and win. And that win could have sparked a win streak. And that win streak could have led to a playoff berth. And that playoff berth could have led to a playoff run. And that playoff run could have led to a World Series ring. How depressing.
So what am I getting at here? Well that’s a good question Zach. What I am trying to say is that force field could have cost the Phillies a World Series. Yes, the intentions of the force field are good, but one must remember that the home team has to deal with it too. Theoretically, the grounds crew could be instructed to turn it off when the home team is up, but that would be a bit too obvious. The league would be all over that quicker than Manfred on a game that’s lasted for more than 3 hours. So I salute the Phillies for their creativity, and hope they can come to a decision as to what they will do with the force field. As for my opinion on the matter, I say leave it in. You paid the millions of dollars for the prototype technology, so why spend even more to have it removed? Just fix the problems with it and you’ll be all set. No more home runs for anyone. Hope you guys have learned how to bunt…