Last season the Baltimore Orioles made a few changes to Camden Yards in anticipation of the ballpark’s 20th anniversary. Those changes included new menu options at various concession stands, lower railings on the right field flag court (to make it easier to see the field), stand-up tables on that same flag court, a party deck in left field, and of course the unveiling of six statues in honor of the franchise’s most beloved personnel. However 2013 will not come without one small change to the park, this time on the field.
The Orioles have replaced the rubberized warning track that circles the field. There have been rumors that manager Buck Showalter had wanted to do something along these lines for awhile; from the time the ballpark opened in 1992 until last season the warning track was made of synthetic material. That’s gone by the wayside, and in it’s stead will be a natural surface made out of crushed stone. According to Roch Kubatko of MASN, the color of the warning track has been matched up to the color of the bricks of the park itself, and those of the warehouse.
Camden Yards would induce a lot of ground rule doubles over the years due to the fact that the warning track was artificial as opposed to the field itself. This is obviously something that could be filed under the category of it plays the same way for both teams, however I think that the Orioles and specifically Buck Showalter wanted to move away from artificial means in terms of how the game is played. Balls will still bounce when they hit the warning track, however probably not as high and not as far. In other words, on a deep drive to center where the ball bounces on the warning track, a slow runner is going to have to work for that double as opposed to coasting into second on a freebie!