Since it opened back in April, the New Yankee Stadium has been a launching pad.
Through games of July 4th, the average game at the Yankees new field has 3.38 home runs. There were four more in Sunday’s game. That’s easily the most home friendly park in baseball this season. It’s not even close. Plus, the longest home run of the 2009 season was hit in the new stadium, on May 22 by Raul Ibanez of the Phillies. It went 477-feet.
As a comparison, the hardest park in the major leagues to hit a home run this season is Turner Field in Atlanta, with an average of 1.29 homers per game. At Kauffman Stadium there has been an average of 1.64 home runs per game.
The dynamics of the New Yankee Stadium got me wondering what will happen with the renovation of Arrowhead Stadium and more specifically the swirling winds that have been part of the building since it opened in 1972.
Punters and kickers have been studying the Arrowhead winds for years and they all agree that there are three levels of wind within the stadium:
- Field Level – Generally the wind moves west to east.
- Mid Level – A swirling wind that tends to blow southeast to northwest inside the bowl.
- Upper Level – Generally moving west to east, but with some blow back when it hits the east stands and scoreboard.
If you’ve ever watched the flags at Arrowhead they often show the different directions of the wind. Sometimes the ribbons on the top of the goal posts will be blowing in opposite directions. At times they will blow towards the west, while the large American flag on the west side of the stadium will be blowing towards the east.
There are some reasons for the wacky winds. The biggest is where Arrowhead sits, a top a plateau with nothing to block the wind. Then there’s the stadium design, with the curved west and east ends that do not make it a bowl and make the interior more susceptible to wind. Combine that with openings on the ground level that funnel wind into the stadium as well.
“Late in December when you punt towards our tunnel (east), you have about a 50-50 chance of hitting a good ball,” said Dustin Colquitt. “It’s tough going that way. Going the other way (west), when it’s real late and real windy you have a 70 to 80 percent chance of getting off a long kick.”
But the renovations are changing the nature of the wind. First, there’s the super structure being built on the south side of the stadium that will hold a new press box and will create new viewing opportunities. It’s called the Horizon Level. That will block some of the wind when it comes from the south and could redirect some of the wind from the west.
Then there’s the new enclosed club level on the outside as well as new structures on the outside at the west and east end zones at the back of the Lower Level. That should shut off some of the wind that blew into the concourses and onto the field.
“It’s going to be different, there’s no doubt about that,” said Colquitt. “I was checking on it last year late in the season, but they didn’t have enough up yet. But you can see, just by looking that it’s going to change the way the wind comes down off our bench.
“A lot of those areas are going to be closed out. There’s going to become a lot more head wind instead of that swirling on the field. It’s going to kind of come swooping in. Hopefully, it will cut some of the middle stuff out.”
There have been various theories put forth on what happened with the New Yankee Stadium. One theory is that the old stadium had stacked tiers and a large upper deck, all of which acted like a solid wall, causing wind to swirl more and be less concentrated. The new stadium is less stacked and this enables the wind to blow across the field with less restrictions.
And there’s little doubt that the changes at Arrowhead are going to change the way the wind blows into the stadium. It will be just something else for the punters and kickers to worry about on a daily basis.
THE DEATH OF STEVE MCNAIR
If we are to believe the news coming out of Nashville, Steve McNair was in the very wrong place at the very wrong time. A married 36-year old man should not be in a condo with 20-year old woman he met at Dave & Buster’s.
And it’s sounding like McNair became a character in a “Fatal Attraction” like story. Based on police statements, it seems that the shootings that took McNair’s life and that 20-year old woman were a murder-suicide. The authorities have not declared it as such, but they also said they were not actively seeking any suspects.
This was a sad case of a guy listening to his little head, rather than his big head. Even more sadly, it happens a lot with pro athletes, current and retired. Now McNair’s mistake has turned tragic: there are four kids without a father.
Eventually, the stain will fade and McNair will be remembered for what he was as a player. He was one tough SOB when it came to playing quarterback. He was a big man, but he took some big hits and struggled at times with some big injuries. But he still threw for more than 31,000 yards and ran for 3,590 yards. Only two other quarterbacks in NFL history went over 30,000 passing and 3,000 rushing yards. He finished with 174 TD passes and 119 INTs.
Despite the time he spent with the Oilers, Titans and Ravens – all in the AFC – McNair only played against the Chiefs twice in his 13-year career. The first time was in September 2000, when he got knocked out of the game after going 11 of 18 for 93 yards and two interceptions. One of those picks was taken by LB Donnie Edwards 42 yards for a touchdown. It was an ugly 35.0 passer rating before he was replaced by Neil O’Donnell, who led the Titans to the victory.
His second appearance came with Baltimore at Arrowhead Stadium in December 2006 and he was outstanding. McNair was 21 of 27 for 283 yards and an 87-yard TD pass in the third quarter to WR Mark Clayton. His passer rating that day was 122.7 as the Ravens beat the Chiefs.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on July 6, 1980 was LB Demorrio Williams. He joined the Chiefs as an unrestricted free agent before the 2008 season, appearing in 16 games last season, with nine starts. Williams has five seasons in the NFL, the first four with the Falcons in Atlanta.
Born on July 6, 1957 in Chicago was RB Earl Gant. He was the Chiefs fifth-round choice in the 1979 NFL Draft out of Missouri and played two seasons with the team (1979-80), appearing in 20 games with three starts. Gant carried the ball 65 times for 228 yards and a touchdown, caught 24 passes for 169 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 119 yards.
Born on July 6, 1948 in Wichita was T Sid Smith. He was the Chiefs first-round choice I n the 1970 NFL Draft, going at the 26th pick out of Southern Cal. Smith spent three seasons with the Chiefs (1970-72), appearing in 42 games with one start.
Born on July 6, 1967 in Daingerfield, Texas was S David Whitmore. He joined the Chiefs in 1993 as part of the trade that brought Joe Montana to Kansas City. Whitmore spent two seasons playing for the Chiefs, appearing in 18 games, with 16 starts. He ended up playing six seasons in the league, always appearing with the Giants, Niners and Eagles.