It seemed like a nice enough event.
With the Phils' season over and Citizens Bank Park empty, the Phillies threw their first ever Fall Phest on Tuesday, welcoming people to enjoy some autumnal amenities in Ashburn Alley. It was all part of their effort to promote the park's usefulness during the off-season.
You know, they gotta get some additional blood out of that rock somehow.
"Our new slogan is, 'When the team is away, you can play,' said Leila Graham-Willis, Phillies Manager of Special Events. "You can host a family reunion or a company picnic here at the ballpark and do all the things [that are] here."
About 600 members of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as invited guests in the event industry, attending the Fall Phest. And while guests milled around and ate fall-themed food, and while the Phils pitched Citizens Bank Park as a prime location to host an event in the off-season, the contrast between the park's usage on Tuesday and it's usage in the month of October in years past, was striking.
What's sad about this event is not the event itself. It's that the Phillies event staff has to try and think of things to do in order to use this park in October in the first place.
You know, they used to play baseball in October at Citizens Bank Park. Quite often, in fact.
It's true that, since 2008, the number of days spent playing baseball in October has dwindled year by year. And even if the Phils were to win a Wild Card or something like that, the chances are good there would still be plenty of days at the end of October to make the Fall Phest a regular thing.
But clearly, that's not the goal. And it's a bit depressing to see people milling around Ashburn Alley, with pumpkins and bails of hay and other fall-like decorations strewn about, when it was just a couple years ago that we were watching Jimmy Rollins lace a walk-off double against the Dodgers in the NLCS, or watching Roy Halladay throw a playoff no-no, or watching, dare I say it, Brad Lidge fall to his knees after a fairly big strikeout.
This is not a criticism of the Phillies event staff or the Fall Phest. They're doing what they have to do to take advantage of the fact the Phils are not playing fall baseball for the second straight year.
Still, the contrast between now and then is stark.
You can bet there are no fall fest events being planned in St. Louis.
Just four years ago, the Phils were preparing to play Games 3, 4 and 5 against the New York Yankees in the World Series. This week, they were preparing a couple of folding tables and carving pumpkins.
You can bet they are, as much as we are, hoping they don't have to plan this event again next year.