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On Safeco Field’s Fences

Coulda been a dinger :(
Coulda been a dinger :(

Most of the time, I don't think we have much use for the mailbags. Which isn't by any means to say that Greg Johns doesn't do the Lord's work - I can't imagine sifting through the questions he must receive every week - but those things are usually geared to a different audience. If you're a Lookout Landing reader, you probably know a lot about the Mariners. You probably know enough about the Mariners.

This time around, though, there was one thing that caught my eye. Somebody wrote in asking that old question about whether the Mariners would ever consider moving in the fences. Safeco's a pitcher-friendly, run-suppressing park, see, and by moving in the fences, it could play more average. It could appeal more to hitters. Dingers! There would be more dingers!

Johns went about investigating. The answer, or at least parts of the answer:

I was told that since moving into Safeco Field in 1999, club officials have regularly discussed the topic and explored it with both statistical analysis and discussions with various field managers, coaches and baseball operations staff.

The team's stance is that if and when such a change would benefit the club, it would be open to moving in the fences [...]

Safeco, right now, is a fairly extreme pitcher-friendly park. It's been that way since the beginning, and the only significant changes I can recall involved the hitter backdrop. But it might not always be this way. Safeco could change, because the Mariners are open to change, and if the Mariners ever feel like making a change, they can basically make the change that they want.

Of course, that second thing - according to Johns, the Mariners would consider adjusting the dimensions if they thought it would help the team. But the Mariners are also building their team to suit the current dimensions, or at least they ought to be. So that's a hurdle, if you're someone who really wants different walls. If the Mariners will only change the fences if it helps a team that's presumably been built for other fences, then the Mariners probably won't change the fences.

For now, the prospect of Safeco playing in a different way is a distant possibility. I think they should temporarily add a hill and a flagpole to welcome the Astros to the AL West, just because hey look how fuckin stupid this is, but that wouldn't have anything to do with the fences so that's a different conversation. I also think the pitcher's mound should be glass and there should be a man looking out from inside, like a turret on a B-17. The hitter would be looking at the pitcher, and then he'd be like, what??