August 23, 2012
Luke Yoder and the Petco Infield
Earlier this year, I wrote about Petco Park's incredible suppression of groundball hits over the past nine years. Petco is, by a pretty wide margin, the most difficult park in which to get a groundball hit. During Monday night's game, the Padres' broadcast team—Mark Grant, Dick Enberg and Mark Sweeney on the field—talked about one significant variable: the head groundskeeper, Luke Yoder.
Mark Grant: The great thing about playing at the big-league level is the fields. And quite frankly, you ask a lot of majors leaguers, this surface at Petco Park is probably the best in MLB. No bad hops. Therefore an infielder can stay down and smother that hard-hit groundball. Luke Yoder's the best.
Mark Sweeney: The biggest thing is you have the same speed from the grass to the dirt. That's what they do such a good job here at Petco park. Luke Yoder is the best in the game.
Dick Enberg: That's an interesting nugget: the fact that it's groomed in a way so the grass isn't slower than the dirt, where you will find that condition in a lot of ballparks.
Sweeney: That's the most difficult thing, when you have a high grass. Some people might do that. In San Francisco they grew the grass up higher because we had older infielders and the range was really lacking. But I think it affects the infielders if you have two different speeds.
Enberg: They rave. The players that leave and go elsewhere say it's not quite the same. And you get to some ballparks that are baked with the hot sun in the summer and that ball is like playing on concrete.
The same inning, they spoke about Mark Sweeney's saxophone, so if you want me to keep transcribing...