With the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers hitting six home runs at Tiger Stadium opening day, an old question was again asked: What's the easiest home run park in the major leagues?
In the 1980s, the answer has been Tiger Stadium, where 992 home runs had been hit in the six seasons before this one.
The hardest? That's also not surprising -- the Astrodome with 325.
What is most surprising is that 13 of the top 15 home run parks are in the American League, and 14 of the bottom 15 in the National League.
The National League exceptions are Atlanta and Wrigley Field, both in the top 15, and the American League's is Royals Stadium, which is 23rd overall.
Certainly, this is an inexact science. The Cardinals and Astros were built around speed and pitching, the Tigers and Orioles around home runs.
Yet in almost every instance, the clubs' personnel were constructed to meet the needs of the park. If Darrell Evans looked good to a lot of teams, he looked terrific to the Tigers, who figured his left-hand swing might be perfect for Tiger Stadium's right field porch.
Regardless, here are the stadium home run standings for the '80s:
1, Tiger Stadium (Detroit), 992; 2, Kingdome (Seattle), 924; 3, Memorial Stadium (Baltimore), 902; 4, Anaheim Stadium (California), 863; 5, Fenway Park (Boston), 855; 6, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (Atlanta), 829; 7, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (Minneapolis), 818; 8, Wrigley Field (Chicago), 808; 9, Exhibition Stadium (Toronto), 803; 10, Oakland Coliseum, 772; 11, County Stadium (Milwaukee), 737; 12, Yankee Stadium (New York), 729; 13, Comiskey Park (Chicago), 721.
The second half:
14, Cleveland Stadium, 671; 15, Arlington Stadium (Texas), 650; 16, Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia), 646; 17, Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati), 642; 18, Shea Stadium (New York), 626; 19, Three Rivers Stadium (Pittsburgh), 623; 20, Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles), 616; 21, Candlestick Park (San Francisco) and San Diego/Jack Murphy Stadium, 604; 23, Royals Stadium (Kansas City), 600; 24, Olympic Stadium (Montreal), 564; 25, Busch Stadium (St. Louis), 448; 26, Astrodome (Houston), 325.
That Dodger Stadium ranks so low is a tribute to the franchise's excellent pitching in the '80s, because the park is a hitter's paradise.
THE DODGERS and San Diego Padres scored only 10 runs in four games last week, a continuation of what those teams did last season. The Padres had more quality starts -- that's pitching at least six innings and allowing three runs or fewer -- than all but one other NL team (98), and the Dodgers were third with 96.
AFTER FORMER San Diego manager Dick Williams shuttled him between the bullpen and starting rotation for two years, San Diego's Dave Dravecky is a full-time starter. One reason is that he had the third-best percentage of quality starts last season, and new manager Steve Boros decided he'd be better off as a starter.
FORMER SAN DIEGO pitcher Tim Lollar is going to be used as an occasional left-handed pinch-hitter in Boston this season. The man the Red Sox were considering for the spot was Mike Stenhouse, who has had 165 more career at bats than Lollar and has just one more home run (nine to eight) and one more RBI (39 to 38). Lollar's career batting average is .230, Stenhouse's .195.
While pitching in the National League, Lollar came to bat with 36 runners in scoring position and drove in 19 of them. That's a 53 percent success rate, and the Red Sox leader last season was Wade Boggs at 37 percent.
THE SEATTLE MARINERS' season was ruined in 1985 when three of their four starting pitchers went on the disabled list. They're off to a flying start again, with their top three relievers -- Edwin Nunez, Karl Best and Roy Thomas -- all on the DL.
THE ORIOLES may think April irrelevant, but the American League East team that has been in first place on April 30 has gone on to finish the season in first place in six of the past seven seasons and 13 of the last 17.
ODD STATISTICS, PART 2: Atlanta second baseman Glenn Hubbard can't hit any of the Smiths. He's zero for 19 vs. Bryn, three for 19 vs. Dave, two for 16 vs. Lee and zero for one vs. Mike.
Totals: five for 55 against pitchers named Smith (.091).
YOU KNOW it's April when:
The Texas Rangers are one game over .500. They were for one day this week, the first time since July 25, 1983, they'd been one above .500.
The San Francisco Giants are two games above .500. They were this week for the first time since July 1983.
California's Rick Burleson starts a game at shortstop. That hasn't happened since 1983.
Atlanta's Rick Mahler tosses a shutout. Three of his five career shutouts have come on opening day, all when the Braves have debuted a new manager: Joe Torre in 1982, Eddie Haas in 1985 and Chuck Tanner in 1986.
WHEN THE TORONTO Blue Jays released him last week, Cesar Cedeno was so certain his 16-year big league career was over that he returned to Houston and bought a fishing license. Two days later, the Dodgers phoned, offered him a contract and sent rookie outfielder Reggie Williams back to the minors.