I am an American League fan from way back, and I am rooting for the Tampa Bays in the World Series, but it is disconcerting to see the Rays take to the field on their very high-tech artificial turf, which entirely lacks the pleasing patterns crisply mown into the grass such as can be seen very clearly at the Philadelphia ballpark, even on my old TV. I like a nice checkerboard field, and you can’t get that with artificial turf. The Phillies play on a thick carpet of Kentucky Bluegrass from a turf farm over in New Jersey.
The Rays play on FieldTurf (www.fieldturf.com). Cal Ripkin, Jr., himself endorses it as a “durable, grass-like surface that plays just like real grass,” and “takes true hops”, according to FieldTurf’s website. It is used in more than 300 baseball fields indoors and out, across the country. It is big on college campuses. The Minnesota Twins and the Toronto Blue Jays also play on FieldTurf.
FieldTurf is a very green alternative to real turf, only without the stripes. Naturally, FieldTurf does not need mowing or watering, and it does not require the application of fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides. The infill, which is the material in between the fabric blades of grass, is made with recycled tires.
In our garden, we play wiffleball on the real thing. We do not use fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides, either, and in fact we allow clover to spread where it will in the grass, which seems to keep at least some of the rabbits out of the flower beds. We let the violets take over in the shady spots. Occasionally, before a big game, we’ll indulge ourselves in some natty mowed pinstripes. Play ball.