SEATTLE – The Mariners’ first important decision Friday had nothing to do with bunts, steals, hit-and-runs or pitching changes.
Two hours before game time, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong huddled with Major League Baseball officials to discuss whether the Safeco Field roof would be opened for Friday’s game.
Until the game starts, Armstrong makes the decision on whether to open or close the roof. After that, it’s in the hands of the umpires.
With a light rain falling outside but the chance for clearing skies by game time, Armstrong made sure major league CEO Paul Beeston knew the procedures for opening the roof, and what would happen if it needed to be closed during the game.
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln also was in on that meeting, behind the batting cage, and admitted he had trouble following all the scenarios.
“Chuck was explaining it to Beeston and it got so complicated, even I got confused,” Lincoln said.
The meeting ended with only one thing resolved: A final decision on whether to open the roof would be made a half-hour before the first pitch.
It turned out to be a no-brainer.
With rain still falling and heavy clouds in every direction, the roof stayed closed.
That proved to be a promising sight for hitters. Safeco Field is known for being pitcher-friendly, with its large dimensions and “dead” air.
“The ball carries better with the roof closed, and it’s darker, so you have a better hitting background,” Mariners manager Lou Piniella said.
“It cuts out some of the wind,” Seattle first baseman John Olerud said. “There is some truth to that.”
Safeco is 326 and 331 at the corners, 388 in left-center, 405 to dead center and 385 to right-center.
Yankee Stadium, by contrast, is 411 at Death Valley in left-center, its deepest but a cozier 312 and 310 feet at the left- and right-field corners, respectively.
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