Home runs are flying out of Yankee Stadium at a record pace for a new ballpark.
Twenty were hit in the first four games alone as New York and
Cleveland split the opening series that ended Sunday. That's easily
the high for the first four games at a major league park, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, topping the 16 when Oakland started the 1996 season at Cashman Field in Las Vegas.
"There are a couple ballparks out there that the ball just travels well. This might be one of them," New York's Mark Teixeira, who hit two of those home runs, said after Monday night's game against Oakland was rained out.
Fourteen of the home runs have been hit to right field, raising concern that there might be a wind tunnel in the $1.5 billion ballpark, which has wide, open concourses, as opposed to the narrow hallways in the original Yankee Stadium on the south side of 161st Street, which remains standing.
"Angle of the seating in the new stadium could have an effect on wind speed across the field," AccuWeather's Gina Cherundolo said on the company's Web site Monday. "The old Yankee Stadium had more stacked tiers and a large upper deck, acting like a solid wall, in effect, which would cause the wind to swirl more and be less concentrated.
"The new Yankee Stadium's tiers are less stacked, making a less sharp slope from the top of the stadium to the field. This shape could enable winds to blow across the field with less restriction. In addition, the slope of the seating would also lead to a `downslope' effect in the field which, depending on wind direction, would tend to cause air to lift up in the right field."
Cherundolo said if the shape of the seating is the issue, winds from the west above 10 mph will cause the boost, and that weather pattern is most typical during spring and middle-to-late fall. The opening series was played in weather than was unseasonably warm for April in New York.
According to Elias, there were eight four-game spans of 20 or more homers at the original Yankee Stadium, some of them overlapping: one in 2000, two in 2003, one in 2004 and four in 2007. The high of 26 was from July 31-Aug. 2, 2007.
"It's not something that I want to see a lot, unless it's all ours. But it was an interesting four days," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I didn't think the ball carried yesterday. I thought it was different yesterday than it was the first three days. So who knows what's going to happen? I mean, it's a small sample."
Twenty-eight homers have been hit in six games at the new ballpark, including eight during two exhibitions against the Cubs. There were 160 home runs last year at Yankee Stadium, just under two per game. Girardi didn't sound particularly concerned about the new park playing as if it were Coors Field or Citizens Bank Park.
"If it does happen, it wears out the other bullpen, too," he said. "I mean, everyone has to deal with the same issues."
Populous, the firm formerly known as HOK Sport that designed the ballpark, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Yankees
spokeswoman Alice McGillion said the team had no comment.
Teams around the majors, watching on television, took notice of all the home runs and started speculating about a wind tunnel.
"There possibly could," said Oakland's Jason Giambi, fresh off seven seasons with the Yankees.
Teixeira thinks it will take half a season to evaluate.
"We can get into the summer months when it's hot and humid, and the ball might be carrying even better," he said. "We'll kind of just see what happens."