Last night, Sammy Sosa hit a grand slam in the Polo Grounds, blasting the ball to the center field bleachers, over 500 feet from home plate.
In a baseball video game, that is. MVP Baseball 2004, to be exact.
That wasn’t Sosa’s only home run to straightaway center. He hit a three-run shot in the first inning, and in the sixth inning he hit another three run blast. All to straightaway center.
Historically, I seem to recall that less than ten home runs landed in the center field bleachers at the old Polo Grounds.
The Polo Grounds had stupid dimensions. The foul poles were about 230 feet from home plate, and then the outfield was deep. The Polo Grounds was shaped like a horseshoe. Built for baseball, its dimensions were better suited for football. A Home Run Derby in the Polo Grounds? You’re insane.
As for the game, it was all Cubs. Carlos Zambrano took the mound for the Cubs, Al Leiter for the Mets. Leiter gave up three runs in the top of the first, and Big Z gave up three runs — all on ground balls — in the bottom of the first.
Z settled down. As did Leiter. But then Leiter gave up some runs in the fourth, he was pulled, and then the Mets ran through relief pitchers like they were candy, and not to any great effect. The Cubs scored ten in the sixth inning, and seven in the seventh. Zambrano gave up the three runs in the first, but then had himself four RBIs. Final score? Cubs 27, Mets 3.
I like playing in the old, classic fields. I’m not sure why. It’s not for aesthetic reasons. Maybe, it’s for magical reasons. Places like the Polo Grounds and Forbes Field and Sportsman Park have names that can be conjured with like magic. These are places where history happened.
I don’t get the enduring love for Ebbets Field, because Ebbets, at least in pictures, looked dinky and grungy. Though, for all I know, that may have been the appeal.
Still. The Cubs crushed the Mets last night at the old Polo Grounds. And it was awesome.