Sunday, January 15, 2012

Red Sox 1-36: 5 is for…

5 ft. The height of the bullpen wall at Fenway.

I wonder, sometimes, how things are decided on. Why is the bullpen wall in right 5 feet tall? What confluence of factors led to that number being plucked? The height of the wall in left is slightly more obvious. The wall is really close to home plate. A high wall meant fewer balls would leave the park. Granted, why it’s 27 feet instead of 26 or an even 30 is up for questioning. Much like the bullpen wall. Why five? Why not six? Why not three, like it is around Pesky’s pole?

To me it looks like a fairly careful calculation. Obviously they took an average player and stood him up against a wall. They had him take a little hop, as if he were reaching for a ball. They then marked the spot where his ribs were. 5 feet. That way, anyone crashing into the wall would be sure to at least bruise a rib, if not break it completely and puncture their lung.

Life-threatening injuries aside, low walls add to the excitement. There might not be a defensive play as dramatic or exciting as robbing a home run. The 5 feet at Fenway have certainly led this to be the case. From Section 36, you can get a good view along that bullpen wall, and see the right fielder approaching it. It’s easy to see the arc of the ball coming towards the bullpen, and try to guess just where it will land. Every once in a while that fielder will stand up against the wall, and reach back into the bullpen and take one away. It’s a play that is sure to evoke a strong emotion.

Almost as much emotion is evoked when a ball actually clears the wall. My favorite memory of that? Has to be the 2004 ALCS game 4 walk-off from David Ortiz. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see a ball clear a five-foot wall. But, I’m sure there are plenty of other wonderful moments involving that wall. Not bad for something 5 feet tall.

5 is for the 5-foot tall bullpen wall.

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