Orioles manager Buck Showalter is taking a wait-and-see approach to how the new LED lights above Camden Yards might influence the games there, with Wednesday the first night game played under the bright new fixtures.
"It's different," Showalter said. "We just don't know. … There's a lot of different things. Do you know if our lights are lower than, say, New York's or Anaheim's or the people in Texas? I think the ball Joey [Rickard] had hit to him the other day was in the lights. Whether or not the brightness of them [affected it]?
"I like things brighter, for the most part. When was the last time when, if you had two channels, you've got a choice between watching a game on high def or regular? You always hit that button where it flips over, right? … We'll see. Tonight is going to be interesting to see if it's a factor. I don't know that it will be."
Monday's Opening Day game against the Blue Jays was played in the afternoon, but constant cloud cover meant the lights remained on from the start of the game until the 11th and final inning. At least one catchable ball fell in in left field.
When the Orioles announced the changes this winter, the club said it would cut energy use by 54 percent going from the fluorescent lights of old to LED. That reduction in energy use, measured in carbon dioxide required to power the stadium, is the equivalent of the emissions from 1,240 cars or 621 homes for a year, the Orioles said.
The other main benefit is on television, where the team-owned MASN broadcasts will benefit from the bright new atmosphere. But the baseball consequences are yet to be determined.
The Seattle Mariners were the first to unveil their LED lights at Safeco Field ahead of the 2015 season, with the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros joining in 2016. The Minnesota Twins and Orioles added them for the 2017 season.
When the Orioles set the record for strikeouts (52) in a single three-game series last May in Houston, the lighting seemed to be an issue. No other team has raised that concern with the Astros, though their pitchers struck out over two batters per game more at home than on the road.
There's been some question as to whether the team should have installed LED lights in the clubhouse too, to adjust to the lights over the course of the evening, but that didn't happen.
Outfielder Seth Smith, who is not in Wednesday's lineup, played two years' worth of home games under the LED lights in Seattle before an offseason trade to the Orioles, and said the lights quickly became familiar.
"I think I remember the light being a little different, and I know they can turn on and off as need be, but I don't remember having to make an adjustment or noticing any adjustments that needed to be made for the players," Smith said.
There also wasn't any difference when leaving the comfortable confines of his home ballpark and going to a road stadium with an older lighting system, he said.
"I never thought about it," Smith said. "I knew we had LED lights, and they seemed great, but I don't remember ever thinking that. I wouldn't know who had what, except for that they're turned sideways. As for how they light, I don't know."