MGM Park West Paws

Way back in high school, when people used the term “south paw”, I thought they were saying “south pa”, without the “w”.  The only way that made sense to me at the time was if “pa” was the abbreviation for Pennsylvania, so in using that phrase they were saying that someone was from southern Pennsylvania, like maybe from the greater Philadelphia area.  I dunno.  Who knew?

I cannot recall now if the clarification some time later of the phrase’s true meaning – a left-hander – came with public or with only private humiliation.

With that personal history, I now make it a point to educate any youngsters that are with me watching a baseball game of the phrase, it’s meaning, and it’s history related to left-handed pitchers in traditionally laid out baseball fields.

And then along comes MGM Park.  When I first saw plans for the stadium, with home plate at the northwest corner of the lot, instead of the southwest, I honestly thought it was a mistake.  Certainly we would lay out our stadium in a traditional orientation, wouldn’t we?  Why would we not?

I am a baseball purist.  I believe the American League – with its God-forsaken designated hitter – plays a game which should not be referred to as baseball.  I pine for a 154 game schedule. (Could its return be possible?)  I can accept pitch clocks, because I believe a baseball game is traditionally a 2 to 2 1/2 hours long, not 4 hours long.

When the stadium construction cam finally made it clear it was being aligned to the northwest, my baseball purist anger swelled.  How can this be?  Lefty pitchers won’t be south paws, they’ll be…west paws!  What an outrage!  We should do…or say…something!


Brent Suter, a Biloxi Shuckers West Paw.

So I fumed. Just ask my wife, who eventually had to assure me the world would continue to turn regardless what direction a double-A minor league baseball stadium was aligned.  All through the lead up to the season, and during the long opening road trip, I steamed.  Even more than the team name “Shuckers”, which I was slowly warming to, this layout thing bugged me.  How could a team starting from scratch be so by-the-book on everything else, and yet screw this up?

And then came opening night.  We were there with everyone else, and saw for ourselves first hand the stadium layout.  And then it made sense.  Of course a stadium named “MGM Park” would want to have the Beau Rivage casino and hotel in prominent view.  With home plate at the northwest corner, most fans get a clear view of the people that had a large hand in making our team a reality.  Fans also see a few of the other buildings in Biloxi’s “skyline”, like the Hard Rock casino (including the guitar), and the hospital.  I guess I am OK with that.

Also, I realized any other layout wouldn’t have as good a view. Home plate at the southwest corner wouldn’t give fans a view of much of anything, maybe the hospital, and at the southeast corner fans would’ve had a great view of…the highway.

Winds I’m not so sure about.  In the existing layout, the (what turns out to be) prevailing southerly breeze flows in from around the Beau Rivage, over the right field foul area, and out over the left field fence.  I can live with that.  What if home plate were at the southeast corner?  Would the stands largely block those southerlies?  Or would they still find a way in and out over the outfield?  That I don’t know.

So, MGM Park has a quirk, and I am at peace with that.  You can now amaze (annoy) your guests with this fascinating tidbit of “west paw” trivia.


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