Per usual, credit Kruk and Kuip for being way out in front on this one. The Giants broadcasters noticed right away this season that outfielders were in for a long jog every time a ball was hit foul down one of the lines at Oracle Park, and they've harped on it just about every home game, often chuckling when an opposing corner outfielder has to jog a long way to get a foul ball off the field.
It's not so funny when you're the outfielder who actually has to run down a slow roller down the third base line and chuck it into the empty seats, but Alex Dickerson at least had some fun with the situation in the seventh inning of a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Eduardo Escobar fouled three pitches down the left field line during his matchup with Jarlin Garcia, and because there are no ball dudes or dudettes this season, Dickerson had to dispose of all three. He started whipping the balls at cutouts.
"I'm not very happy every time I have to chase those down. For some reason we didn't think ball guys are essential workers this year," Dickerson explained. "I get kind of tired over there and I also wasn't very loose, so I was taking that time to pick out random three or four cutouts and see if I could knock the heads off of them to get my arm loose."
Dickerson has a wry sense of humor, but he also has a point.
It couldn't have been fun -- on a day when it was 88 degrees and smoky from the fires -- for outfielders to chase down foul balls, but there aren't a lot of easy solutions. The number of people allowed in the ballpark is extremely limited because of COVID-19 regulations. Some other teams have stationed members of the grounds crew down the lines, but given how hard those guys are working already, that's probably not fair.
The easiest solution seems to be to just have each team put a guy who isn't playing down there. Maybe we'd get some highlights of Kevin Gausman or Logan Webb laying out for a liner? If players were interested in that, though, we probably would have seen a fix 40 games ago.
This seems to be the way it is, which means Dickerson can keep up the target practice. If you ordered a cutout, yours might get smacked at some point, but don't worry. Dickerson said he didn't take any heads off.
"They made those things pretty sturdy, unfortunately," he said. "We'll keep trying it out. Maybe if I just stay through it a little better."