Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Braves new park feels like a hit with the hitters

The first home series is complete at the new Cobb County Taxpayer Park, and after the many reviews of its ambience and its amenities, there’s this very gut-level one from Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer:

“It’s early, but the ball has really carried well. It has been night and day compared to Turner Field.”

Yes, it’s early. Numbers haven’t had the time to fully form, and those that are available just may be a little skewed by the fact the Braves finished the homestand facing the likes of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Baseballs tend not to carry as well when delivered to the plate by those kind of pitchers.

There’s much not to understand about the physics of baseball. Such as the tilt of a good slider or the distance a committed infielder can spit.

Add to the list the one about how a move of a mere 14 miles north could create such a vivid difference in the flight characteristics of a batted ball. And it’s not yet summer, when baseballs get really excited.

But we do sense the opportunity for a county marketing campaign here. Something simple, along the lines of, “Go Farther in Cobb!” Or, maybe something to appeal to a more youthful demographic: “Hey, Singles, You Can Get to Third Base in Cobb!”

In six home games, the Braves have put up a better batting average (.273-.247) and slugging percentage (.418-.413) than in eight road games. Conversely, their team pitching ERA is a bit higher at home than away (4.33-4.24). Again, the sample size is really insufficient.

More accurate at this stage are impressions.

The dimensions of the new place are too similar to the old to be much of a factor, Seitzer said, but “the way the ball is carrying has been unbelievably different.”

“We’ll have to see how the season unfolds, with how the ball is going to carry,” he said, “but so far it’s a lot better than the old place.”

Explanations for such a visceral difference between sites that are so near each other seem to center on architecture. Large buildings loom over both left field and right at the new place. The jumbo scoreboard blocks much of center field. There’s something going on there that either cuts into the effects of the wind or somehow redirects the air flow, Seitzer suspects.

There’s probably not another Coors Field thing going on here, but the hint of this being a decidedly better hitters’ ballpark than Turner Field bears watching. Somewhere there has to be millions of dollars of federal grant money just aching to be thrown at a study of this important topic.

But thus far, after just one week, it can be said with some certainty that there is much potentially offensive about the new ballpark (probably not the best slogan for chamber of commerce use).

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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.