Getting a Grip on Fake Grass, Bum Knees and Unnecessary Bad Bounces

Top Quality Bermudagrasses Make Infinitely More Sense to the Pros

It is virtually impossible to get professional baseball players and pro athletes in all sports to agree on much. Each has his own pregame regimen, post-game attire, training habits, superstitions and as we are now becoming aware, social and political perspective. But when it comes to their playing surface of choice, there is virtual unanimity. Natural grass is the clear winner. That’s why, even more surprising than the name of the Texas Rangers new stadium, Tax-Hike Friendly Ballpark, is the early word that its playing surface may likely consist of synthetic turf. That thought is seemingly as popular with the players as beginning all games at 4:31 the dead of winter.

Texas Rangers outfielder and son of a major league star of the same name, sums up player opinion, and that of most fans, by the way. “The game on real grass just feels more natural…I really hope they don’t put in (fake grass) at the new stadium. I know the artificial surface is better now than it was before and it’s getting better, but it’s not grass. Real grass has give. It’s softer.”

Yes, synthetic surfaces are better than when Delino’s dad was first to play on them consistently around the major leagues a generation ago. Artificial grass was often the norm then, until teams and stadiums figured out what today’s players may now be forced to relearn. Playing on artificial turf hurts. Ask first baseman Joey Gallo. “When you play on that fake grass, your knees hurt like hell—your hips and your back, too.” Fellow infielder Elvis Andrus agrees wholeheartedly. “When I play on (artificial grass), I feel it my hamstrings and my back, for sure.”

Texas outfielder Ryan Rua has another valid concern,“The ball kicks off much higher on that surface.” Why? Because artificial turf can become hard. And that’s not exactly the playing conditions your favorite orthopedist would recommend. Or better still, the leading choice for the doctor of a player with $100M plus lifetime earning potential.

Ironically, you know what surface is getting softer, more traffic tolerant and drought resistant through science? You guessed it. Natural grass. The real kind that grows; not the stuff made up of crushed tires, recycled shopping bags or who knows what with a few blades of real grass trying to peek through. We are talking beautiful, tough and welcoming natural turf, the kind that Abner Doubleday  intended for the nation’s pastime.

It is surprising that drought concerns are supposedly, in part, behind the apparent switch to the fake stuff. Why? Because it’s the synthetic stuff that carries surface temperatures soaring so high that you could serve brunch immediately if you dropped a dozen eggs down the first base line onto this so-called superior surface. Ask Rangers catcher Curt Casali who was forced to play on it in Tampa Bay’s indoor stadium last season. “Because there is no moisture for the dirt, it feels different. It’s dry and you can’t get a grip.”

If the rumors are true and the ballpark is outfitted with synthetic turf, Ranger players will think it’s the stadium execs. who really don’t have a grip…on what’s right. Or on the runaway advances that have occurred in turf science this last few decades. High quality bermudagrass alternatives like Celebration® and Latitude 36® handle both extended droughts and lots of traffic—from ballplayers and concert goers—exceedingly well. If those two grasses were athletes, they’d be awaiting Hall of Fame induction.

It’s only natural that there is one real solution to this man-made quandary. The installation of the right choice of real grass. The Ranger players are hoping that this talk of fake grass is really nothing but fake news.We’ll all know soon enough. But something tells me, Texas homeowners, golf course superintendents and park and rec. pros won’t be opting for the inferior stuff that masquerades as a viable turf alternative. They’ll continue to choose Celebration and Latitude 36—grasses that are real and really good in every way that you’d expect from honest to goodness natural turf.

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