The Toronto Blue Jays installed new turf at the Rogers Centre this season to hold them over until the stadium’s eventual conversion to real grass for the 2017 season. The old AstroTurf played super fast, was rock hard and bounced high.
In a stadium that is considered home run friendly, the old turf helped jack up high scores and played a certain way. For visiting teams they had grown accustomed to how fast it played.
Now, roll out the new turf and from the start of the season the opinion has drastically changed. The new softer, longer turf is supposed to look and play more like grass, but so far the wide ranging opinion is it plays like a wet, long, damp grass stadium. It’s extremely slow, the pellets used to fill the space explode out of the ground when the ball hits and the ball isn’t bouncing true.
The word from the Blue Jays is the stadium will balance out as the season goes on as there’s more wear on the turf and it’s rolled and unrolled a couple of times.
In the opinion of Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles, that time can’t come soon enough,
There had been some belly aching from other teams so far but no formal complaints, but reports out of Baltimore have said the team will file a formal complaint over the way the field plays. Reports in the Toronto Star said the team considered a boycott of their series opener in Toronto.
Ultimately, the Commissioner has seen it first hand being at the home opener and baseball, maybe more than any other sport, has a history of stadiums that play differently than others. Right now you have the short porch in New York, a giant wall in Boston and a roofing system that has it’s own special rules in Tampa. And that’s just the American League East, nevermind stadiums with hills, ivy, pitchers mounds in foul territory and more.
Not included in any complaints about the turf were how the turf made a difference in the home runs the Blue Jays hit off Baltimore’s pitching in their three game sweep of the team or how the turf made Baltimore pitchers throw behind Jose Bautista again.
When asked by Sportsnet about the turf, new Blue Jay Josh Donaldson said
“It’s hard because you’re used to turf being fast and really being somewhat bouncy and this is kind of the exact opposite, it’s slower. What I think is an advantage of it is my body definitely feels better from playing this homestand than it did after three games last year [as a visitor], so I think that’s a positive”
Of course, we’re sure none of the complaints about the field are motivated by the teams heated history with Jose Bautista or the Blue Jays pursuit of Dan Duquette in the off season to come on as team president.
Maybe the problem was the Rogers Centre catering staff were serving sour grapes for the post game meal?