In Friday's article about the opening of the right-field bleachers I mentioned that there was a new quirk in the right-field corner where Gate Q is located. The "basket" that catches home run balls doesn't go all the way to the side wall, at least not in the form that we're used to seeing.
Mike Bojanowski had mentioned this to me Thursday night and Friday, he went over to the right-field corner before the game began to take some photos, and sent them to me along with this comprehensive report:
The reopening of the right field bleachers has revealed what is probably the quirkiest piece of business left behind by the new construction. The expansion of Gate Q has now divided the brick (ivy) wall, and significantly altered the sweep of the basket, and thus the ground rules for that area. The new gate has also necessitated an elaborate routine which must apparently be repeated before every game. The old saw "some assembly required" comes to mind. Those who while away the pregame time watching the grounds crew whip the playing field into proper shape now have a new focus of attention.The baskets are generally constructed as they were before, but now come to an end to either side of the new Gate Q. Gate Q has been enlarged vertically to the top of the brick wall, which is now divided at that point. The top of the gate now abuts the right field ribbon board. The triangular sides of the basket truncations are sealed off with chainlink cut to fit. The basket segment from foul pole to the far right edge of the gate is only a few feet long. Attached to the tops of the triangular basket sides, and extending across the length of the top of the gate, is a narrow rectangle of chainlink forming a ledge parallel to the ground. There is a yellow wire across the front of this ledge, matching the basket as a whole. I assume a ball landing on or above this ledge is a home run. I also assume numerous video reviews in the future regarding this, as such home runs will be more difficult to discern than those hit into the basket. A few to several home run balls usually come to rest in that area each season.The new double gate is of great interest, evidently it cannot be fully padded while open, which means that an involved assembly including padding and a backdrop screen must now be followed each day. Time, as is said, marches on. The new technologies yield to hands-on piecework. Because baseball.Hope this has amused.
Essentially, what has happened is that a portion of the brick wall was removed above Gate Q, which is now a couple of feet taller than it was. The gate goes all the way to the top of the wall. There's still a "basket" above Gate Q -- but it's parallel to the ground as opposed to being a "basket" where a ball could land and stay there. If a baseball hits the top of that parallel piece of fence, it will most likely bounce back onto the field. But as you can clearly see in these photos -- especially photos 10 and 11 -- there's a yellow line in front of that particular piece of "basket", which means anything hitting behind it is a home run, as Mike wrote.
As Mike also noted, baseballs do hit in that area several times a year. I'd think if a ball does bounce off the top of that particular area and back onto the field, replay review will be needed to confirm whether it's a home run or not. It wouldn't hurt if they somehow made the yellow rubber tubing that's on the edge of the basket a bit thicker so it would be easier for the umpires to see if a ball hit above it.