Archive for the 'FirstEnergy Park' Category

Deep-Fried Standings

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

We gave you a rundown of BlueClaws new concession items (here), so let’s check in on some of them. After one homestand, here are the Deep-Fried Standings – aka the most popular deep-fried items at the new Deep-Fried Food Stand on the third base concourse.

DeepFriedStandings

Now You Can Rob A Home Run

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

YellowLine

RobAHomeRunA new ground rule has gone into effect at FirstEnegy Park this year and it could lead to a play that’s never happened before in a game at this ballpark – robbing a home run.

In the photo on top, you can see the two-leveled wall that has been here (and is still here). From 2001 – 2015, any home run was a ball that cleared both the 8-foot high padded wall and the 4-foot high chain-link fence. You had to clear the yellow line.

The ground rules have changed this year.

That yellow line is gone, and the rule now reads as follows:

The following are home runs (except to picnic area in left-center and tiki bar in right center):

– Any ball that clears the outfield wall on a fly

– Any ball that hits the chain-link fence above the outfield wall on a fly

– Any ball that glances off the padded wall on a fly and into the chain link fence and is wedged between the two, bounces into the field of play, or bounces over the chain link fence.

2) Regarding the elevated walls in left-center field (picnic area) and right-center field (tiki bar), for a ball to be a home run, the ball must clear the entire wall, including the upper chain-link fence. Each area features a set of vertical yellow lines to designate the elevated wall. A ball that hits to the outside of either line is a home run, and a ball that hits to the inside of either line and bounces back on the field is in play.

In the picture on the right, Herlis Rodriguez made a great catch in an August game last year. However, if he didn’t catch the ball, it would have been a ground rule double (if it stayed in the gap between the fence and padded wall) or a live ball (if it bounced back into play).

If that play happens tonight, he would be robbing a home run – and become the first player ever to rob a home run at FirstEnergy Park.

New Food Items This Year at FirstEnergy Park

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Yesterday on BlueClaws.com, we unveiled some of the new things fans can look forward to seeing at the ballpark this year. Included on the list are two new food items that we wanted to highlight here.

One new food item that fans can enjoy is pork roll deep-fried in funnel cake batter topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

DeepFriedPorkRoll

Fans can also enjoy thick-cut bacon dipped in chocolate then fried in funnel cake batter.

Both the deep-fried bacon and pork roll are only available at the Funnel Cake Stand on the third base concourse.

DeepFriedBacon

 

Laser-Grading The Field

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

LaserGradingField

The playing surface at FirstEnergy Park is being laser-graded today.

What does that mean exactly? Let’s go back to a post from November of 2010. This post has the accompanying pictures that are referenced.

They have started the process of laser-grading the entire field. In the near-ground, the base laser is set atop the pitcher’s mound. It has been pre-programmed with the correct grade of the field. In the background, there is another laser (also circled) attached to the back of the tractor. The two synch-up to grade the field at the correct angle.

Here is an interview with then-BlueClaws groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe during the field re-modeling which also references the laser-grading process.

Where did you get .88 inches (the height of the grade)?
They have a GPS type of machine and went in and surveyed 50 points throughout the field and essentially took the average elevation. We have the original blueprints from 10 years ago which they used as a starting point. That original elevation for the sand is what they want to get back to.

How do they make sure they keep it at .88 inches?
They have a tractor with a grading box in the back. They’ll put a tripod right around second base which will have a laser on it too. So the laser on the tripod will connect with the laser on the tractor, which has been pre-programmed with our original field blueprints. The grading of the new sod will follow these blueprints exactly.

Is it perfectly flat?
No. The infield grass is perfectly flat, and so is foul territory, but from the arc of the infield dirt all the way out to the wall is a 1% grade, creating a mushroom to aid water flow and drainage.

We always enjoy these field maintenance stories and we’ll have more of them this year with BlueClaws groundskeeper Mike Morvay.

Off-Season Field Work Underway

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

The baseball season is over at FirstEnergy Park, and the field is being renovated. A crew from Tuckahoe Turf Farms was here the last few days to remove the lips around the infield and re-sod some areas of the field.

Below is a description of the work from BlueClaws Head Groundskeeper Mike Morvay.

Many fans may not be aware of what we in professional baseball identify as a “Lip” that builds up on the infield and doesn’t provide a smooth transition from the dirt to the grass area.  During a season, many factors contribute to lips building up causing infield dirt to get into the grass.  This material is transported to the grass during periods of strong wind and even during tarp pulls. These materials continue to build up over time creating hazardous conditions for the players and an unsafe playing surface. After the season, it is important to correct this condition and have our field in top shape for the 2014 season.

The past two days, Tuckahoe Turf Farms was here to remove the lips. The first day, They began by measuring four feet around the entire infield arc, the pitcher’s mound, baselines and home plate. The next step in the process involved removing all the turf with the use of a sod cutter, then removing all the old sod. They go two inches to remove the material that built under the grass getting down to the root zones.

Once all the materials were removed, Tuckahoe brought in fresh sand to level the playing surface. Once the field was leveled, they began the process of laying 4,500 square feet of fresh Kentucky Bluegrass sod which was completed in five hours. Once this was done, the sod was rolled and watered to root for the 2014 season.

This is one of the most important processes in providing the BlueClaws with a safe playing surface and taking away bad hops.

We hope you enjoyed this inside look at field maintenance.

You can see a photo gallery of the work here.

ClawCast: Director of Grounds Mike Morvay

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

One of our favorite ClawCasts to pop up here every year is our groundskeeping review/preview. We sit down with BlueClaws Director of Grounds Mike Morvay who looks back on the off-season, tells us how he gets the field ready, and more.

Some quick hitters –

  • He notes that they added about 25 tons of dirt to the infield and a few tons of stone to the warning tracks this year.
  • This winter has been much colder than last year’s winter, which was one of the warmest on record, and among the warmest since this stadium opened.
  • What do groundskeepers who work in New England and other colder areas think this time? “They hope it’s not going to snow!”

You can listen to the interview by clicking here or in the player below.

Recommended Read: MiLB Park Effects

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Ashley Marshall of MiLB.com has written an excellent article on park effects in various Minor League ballparks. You can read the full article here. This is a topic that we have talked about sometimes on this blog and frequently on BlueClaws game broadcasts, how pitching at FirstEnergy Park is a significant advantage for pitchers. This certainly re-affirms that long-standing belief of coaches, scouts, and other observers.

First, see below for the numbers:

Where the Numbers Come From:

((Runs scored at home + runs allowed at home)/(Home games)) / ((Runs scored on the road + runs allowed on the road)/(Road games))

What the Numbers Mean

A park factor of 1.000 is considered neutral and represented an equal number of runs/homers/hits at home as on the road. A factor over 1.000 favors hitters, while a factor under 1.000 favors pitchers.

FirstEnergy Park is considered to be the second best park for pitchers in the South Atlantic League, especially so when it comes to home runs. Asheville’s McCormick Field is three times more likely to yield a home run than FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood.

Generic player X hits 7 home runs on the road in 208 bats against an average ballpark mixture. If he had the same 208 at bats in Lakewood, he would in theory hit just 3.5 home runs in those games, while hitting 11 if he had those same 208 at bats in Asheville.

That’s a general example. Let’s look at two recent BlueClaws players.

Maikel Franco, 2012

  • He hit seven home runs in 254 home at bats last year. Using these park effects, he would have hit 13.5 home runs in a league average ballpark. Adding that to the seven he hit on the road and suddenly he is a 20 home run player. He would have hit 21 home runs with a home schedule in Asheville, bringing his season total to 28.

Jim Murphy, 2011

  • This is an interesting one to pick because in 2011, Murphy hit 22 home runs, tying the BlueClaws single-season franchise record. Of those 22 home runs, he hit 11 in 234 home at bats, or one every 21.3 Lakewood at bats. Against a league average ballpark, that’s 20 home runs at home, 31 total. In Asheville, that’s 33(!) home runs at home and 44 total. One home run every seven at bats sounds a little goofy and not realistic, but it does illustrate pretty well how much this ballpark favors the pitchers.

Jonathan Singleton in 2010 had roughly the same home run rate at home (7 in 185) as on the road (7 in 191) and this exercise would add a bunch to his total as well.

The point of the exercise is to keep these numbers in mind when looking at power numbers for this ballpark, and also when analyzing pitcher performance as well.

For what it’s worth…

  • Clearwater has the 4th best offensive park (of 12) in the Florida State League.
  • Reading has the 4th best offensive park (of 12) in the Eastern League.
  • Lehigh Valley has the 4th best pitchers park (of 14) in the International League.

They did not break down the NY-Penn League but Williamsport is considered an extreme pitchers park.

Read the article and bookmark it as the season gets going in a few weeks.

Spring Means Ice For Claws PA-Announcer

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

April showers and May flowers normally mean baseball season. That’s no different this year, with the BlueClaws having already played 18 of their 70 home games. But one ballpark fixture has had somewhat of a lighter schedule thus far this season – PA announcer Kevin Clark, for whom April showers and May flowers have meant additional time at the ice-level.

Clark, as he has been since the Devils moved into the Prudential Center five years ago, is the Devils PA-announcer, and with their run into the Eastern Conference Finals, he’s been at fewer BlueClaws games so far.

“People at work with and a few season ticket holders have asked about me, want to know if I’m OK,” Clark said. “They haven’t heard me. They’ve been asking if I quit or if I’m done. But with the hockey going on, that’s my focus now and the schedule hasn’t fallen the right way. And I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

This is the first time the Devils have won a playoff round since Clark started – and they’ve won two, beating the Panthers and Flyers in the first two rounds. Last night, they lost game one of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Rangers, 3-0, but don’t ask Clark how the game went.

“When they’re on the road, I can’t watch – I’m a nervous wreck. Whatever my wife wants to watch we’ll have on,” he said. “It’s like watching a scary movie under a blanket. Every so often you poke your head out.”

At home, as they will be this weekend, it’s far less stressful, even though he’s working. It’s also a lot different than a BlueClaws game.

“It’s night and day,” he said. “I’m down on the ice for the hockey games and you feel more removed in a baseball game. It’s so loud (hockey) and it’s crazier down there.” (Clark is in the top left in the photo with the off-ice officials)

One thing that makes baseball a bit easier – you don’t have too many of these: “If you get a Kovalchuck, Zubrus, Ponikarovsky goal announcement, I probably need a little oxygen.”

Clark will be back to FirstEnergy Park on a regular basis soon, and he’ll still do a handful of games as his schedule permits, but that’s up to the Devils (and the Rangers) right now.

“I want to be there but I hope this goes all the way into June,” he said. “It’s been an incredible ride.”

Food Suggestion: Buster’s Chips

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

This is all new at the ballpark this year, and we wanted to pass it along…Buster’s Chips. Here’s what you get:

Your own souvenir BlueClaws helmet filled with fried potato chips, shredded barbeque pulled pork, jalapenos, black olives, cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream!

Buster’s Chips are available on the third base concourse for just $12 (if you just want the helmet, it’s available in the Claws Cove).

Enjoy!

ClawCast: Groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

While all of you have been thrilled with the weather we’ve had this winter (if you can call it that), perhaps nobody has been more excited than BlueClaws groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe. Radcliffe, of course, is in charge of making sure the field is all set and ready to go when Opening Day arrives on April 12th.

“It’s been amazing, just looking at the soil temperatures from years past, we’re up about ten degrees from where we usually are at this time.” Apparently, I did not know this, the grass kicks in growing and greening at about 50 degrees and we’ve been at 60 at spots already (this is a soil temperature, not the actual temperature).

You can listen to the podcast below or pop it on you iPod (right click this link, save link as, drop it in your iTunes).

Thanks for listening.

The podcast plan is essentially to do a couple each week, one with manager Mickey Morandini, which we’ll on Thursdays. We will also have a podcast with BlueClaws GM Geoff Brown in the days leading up to the home opener and we’ll solicit questions from fans for that one – stay tuned.

Surf Taco, Charlie’s Coming to FirstEnergy Park

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Pretty self explanatory, but important nonetheless.

Two great Jersey Shore restaurants will now be occupying the Asbury Park Press Food Court in right field and will sell tacos, wraps, and pizza at all 70 games (we’ll let you decide which is which).

We share it here because it seemed like very popular news on Facebook and Twitter earlier today.

Below the fold, is the full release.

(more…)

ClawCast: Happy Anniversary

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Eleven years ago today – March 13, 2001, the BlueClaws front office staff members moved into FirstEnergy Park for the first time after working on Airport Road for the previous few months.

Move-in day was quite hectic, according to BlueClaws Asst GM Brandon Marano, who is still here in his role 12 years later.

“It was about a three or four day process because we had to keep our business operations going at our location in the industrial park…We were all hands on deck, loading the truck, unpacking the truck…It was basically moving our entire office over.”

The picture you see on the right was taken four months prior to move-in day, on November 10th, of 2000. Obviously shortly after that photo a lot of grass was laid down and the path was paved leading up to the gate as it is today.

How close did they cut it, before the first game? Marano’s first fan complaint:

“A woman walked up to the gates 15 minutes before we opened to look inside and had nothing but green paint on her jacket because it was still wet.”

Listen to the podcast below or click here to download the file to your computer (right click, save link as, you can bring it into your iTunes to listen to later if you want).

Note: later, we’re coming back with a little 5-million announcement, which was part of the reasoning for taping this podcast.

Back to Work

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

radcliffe-sodLast year, BlueClaws groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe oversaw the installation of a completely new playing surface at FirstEnergy Park, with about 95,000 square feet of new sod laid down in November and December.

But every year, he goes back to work laying down additional sod in various areas of the field.

“We were re-sodding the worn-out areas from the season,” he said yesterday. “These are really where the second baseman and shortstop stand, where the grass and dirt meet, where the first baseman and third baseman stand when they play in, and in front of the mound. The areas in front of the mound we re-sod during the season as well.”

All told, it was about 250 square feet of sod laid down yesterday, before is started pouring. That works out to only .27% of the entire field, but of course those are areas that take a beating on a daily basis.

If you want to read about the entire installation process from last year, click here for the FirstEnergy Park category, and scroll down to the bottom of this page and the page prior.

Fox 29 Philadelphia Ballpark Tour

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Fox 29 and their anchor John Anderson are spending the summer doing ballpark tours around some of the area’s minor league parks and they came to Lakewood a few weeks back. Here is the piece:

Minor League Baseball Tour Hits Lakewood: MyFoxPHILLY.com