- MLB Playoffs 2001 - Diamondbacks lose control over roof

Sunday, October 28
Updated: October 29, 4:13 AM ET
Diamondbacks lose control over roof

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- For four years, the Arizona Diamondbacks have decided when to open and shut the roof in their high-tech ballpark.

No more, at least for the time being.

"We thought it was our call but they said it was theirs," team president Rich Dozer said before Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday. "We would have had it open anyway, so it's no big deal. We're not going to fight them about it."

Dozer said Sandy Alderson, an executive vice president in the commissioner's office, informed him before Game 1 on Saturday night that Major League Baseball wants the games in Phoenix played under the starry night sky.

Arizona's Curt Schilling prefers the roof closed because he believes the ball carries better when open. But it didn't keep him from beating St. Louis in Game 5 of the NL division series and the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series.

Center fielder Steve Finley said he doubts the ball carries better under open sky.

"I've seen it carry with the roof open and not carry with the roof open. I've seen it carry with the roof closed and not carry with the roof closed," Finley said.

Dozer said, player preferences aside, his primary concern has been fan comfort. During the 100 or so days of triple-digit temperatures during summer in the low desert, the roof is closed and the interior is cooled to about 80 degrees by 8,000 tons of air conditioning.

The ballpark is the first domed baseball stadium with natural grass, and the roof is always opened after games to give the grass a better chanced to grow.

Good deeds rewarded
Game 1 winner Curt Schilling got accolades of a different kind before Game 2, when he accepted the 2001 Roberto Clemente Award for community service.

The award included a $25,000 donation from John Hancock made to the ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) Arizona Chapter.

"This shows that I did something in the time allotted me on this pedestal," said Schilling, a lifelong baseball buff who owns a jersey worn by Gehrig in the 1927 World Series and named his son Gehrig when the youngster was born in 1995.

Major League Baseball also gave a supplemental Clemente award to New York City, with Yankees manager Joe Torre and Mets skipper Bobby Valentine accepting on behalf of the city.

Valentine was on the field before the game, exchanging hugs with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and front office official Dwight Gooden.

Schilling received the Clemente award in 1997 and 1998, when he was with Philadelphia.

The award was begun in 1970 and was renamed three years later for Clemente, who died in a plane crash while delivering supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. Recipients have to exemplify sportsmanship, community involvement and value to their teams.

"Curt's long-standing support for the fight against ALS and his involvement with community and team-related issues make him an excellent choice for this award," commissioner Bud Selig said.

While Schilling was with the Phillies, he and his wife Shonda raised $1.5 million for ALS. After moving to his native Arizona, Schilling took up the cause again and raised $1 million for the charity.

First things first
Randy Velarde is more worried about dealing with his own pitcher than he is about Randy Johnson.

Velarde got the start at first base for the Yankees on Sunday night because of his .452 career average against the Big Unit. Johnson is so tough on lefties that manager Joe Torre went with an all right-handed lineup, except for starter Andy Pettitte.

That's what has Velarde worried. Pettitte has one of the trickiest pickoff moves in the game, and regular first baseman Tino Martinez warned Velarde that even he gets fooled sometimes.

"I just have to make sure he's going home before leaving the base," said Velarde, who played 10 games at first base this season.

Torre said he's confident in Velarde's ability to handle first base but won't hesitate to take him out if necessary.

"If we get a lead or (Randy's) out of the game, I'll switch back to Tino as soon as I can," he said.

Home cooking
The Diamondbacks were 30-29 at home until they started a run that saw them win 18 of their last 22 games in Phoenix.

It has carried over into a 4-2 record at home during the playoffs, including Saturday night's 9-1 win over the Yankees.

But slugger Luis Gonzalez says he's not aware of a point in which Arizona toughened up.

"It doesn't matter if you're home or not," he said. "We've been doing pretty well on the road, too (4-1)," Gonzalez said. "It just depends how you're playing right now. Our team has been peaking."

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