A league of their moan


There are as many avid baseball fans as there are those who think it’s a snore. Who say it’s like watching grass grow. Or maybe not.

In Malibu, watching the grass grow can get pretty exciting.

When plans to renovate the Bluffs Park ball fields took shape last fall, the sod-versus-seed debate was hot. Seed is slow. Sod is fast — but pricey. And finicky. Getting it to take root requires meticulous preparation of the soil — aerating, fertilizing, leveling, drainage. And water. Lots and lots of water, which the city has applied liberally and diligently, and, Little League officials say, excessively.

When players and coaches arrived Saturday morning, they found 3 inches of water on the first- and third-base lines. The ducks loved it. The kids were bummed.

The games were delayed while coaches and parents worked to get the field ready for play. Parents didn’t say if the excess was Hoovered up or blown dry.

Parks and Recreation Director Catherine Walter explained the supersaturation was caused by a misunderstanding with the computer-operated sprinkling system.

It seems the city was told that Zone 15 was the infield and Zone 16 was the outfield and, well, computers take things so literally.

“There was a problem with the numbering of the zones on the clock,” Walter said Tuesday. “It was human error, but it was sorted out on Monday.”

David Fant, the park’s new maintenance worker, finally figured it out. On the computer-controlled panel, zones 15 and 16 were inverted.

No big deal, except that the outfield, whatever its number, should be sprinkled for 20 minutes and the infield for only five minutes. Oops!

To eliminate any chance for error this week, Walter said David will hand water the infield. “We won’t risk irrigation of the infield until the CalSense (computerized irrigation system) representative comes out. It’s very sophisticated,” Walter said.

The company will send its expert this week to work with the staff and make sure the sensors are positioned correctly and the zone numbers are accurate, Walter said. “It was scheduled before the mishap last weekend. We knew we would have to review all that. I think we’re pretty reasonable, but I imagine it was very frustrating for them.”