One of the more controversial parts of Andy MacPhail’s end of season news conference was the announcement that instead of pouring money into the product on the field, the team would be spending on improvements to the stadium itself. Now, if you’re like me, you had no idea that a stadium that is a mere 13 years old needed upgrades, but here we are. Well, I am here to inform you that indeed it does. This decrepit old structure is in serious need of a good sprucing up in order to bringing that sweet Pokemon hunting, Myspace updating, Oregon Trail-obsessed demographic to the ballyard that management so desperately craves.
With this in mind, here are five ideas that I know would be surefire hits if they were to be installed.
- A virtual reality bat flip judging contest
The team’s best player by WAR the past three years has easily been Odubel Herrera. We have watched him blossom from a Rule 5 roster hopeful to an All-Star during this time period. While here, he has thrilled us with his baseball acumen, as well as his flair for the dramatic.
Now, some of these have inspired a new generation to try their hands at bat flipping.
In order to make sure that these kids are being brought up to flip their bats right, they have to practice. What better way to enter the new age of player celebrations than to have them enter a contest to try and win a prize for their efforts! Kids can practice at home, then come to a Phillies game to have their technique judged and criticized before a panel of experts. We can even get some of the current staff to work on this. How about a panel of, say, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt and Dave Hollins?
Kids can enter a virtual reality cage, judges sitting on the side. They can hit a home run, single, whatever they wish and flip their bats like the pros! Every evening, the winner is able to take batting practice on the field, where he or she will take their hacks not against a pitcher, but in the batter’s box, flipping that bat for everything he or she is worth. Make this happen.
- A Phanatic hot dog gun paintball-esque game
Just admit that you are jealous whenever you see someone who isn’t the Phanatic riding around on that ATV, firing off pre-packaged meat at unsuspecting patrons, sometimes out of good humor, sometimes out of revenge.
Oh, how you have wanted to be that guy who gets to shoot the gun into the crowd, even if it were just once.
Well, what if you could?
Imagine: the team dedicates a small portion of the stadium to a playground where you, the fan, are able to take miniaturized versions of the hot dog gun and play a paintball-like game! It something I know I would pay good money for. You can even try and get around the different obstacles in place, such as:
- a statue commemorating Pat Burrell’s time in left field
- broken down bullpen carts from the 1970’s
- zombie-like creatures dressed in 1964 Phillies uniforms, unable to die like the ghosts from Lord of the Rings
It’s all too much to even comprehend. The fun! The excitement! The meat! This is another thing that has to happen.
- An automatic spray decontaminate for the Kids Zone (then change the “s” to a “z” to bring us into the new millennium)
Bringing children to the ballpark is a time honored tradition that hearkens back to days of yore. Nowadays, kids are invited to go to a playground to get some energy out running around a safe environment while their parents are able to enjoy a few minutes of relaxation on a nearby bench.
However, when the weather turns hot, and these sweaty, disease-ridden mini-humans are sharing whatever illness they are currently carrying on the plastic slides that hundreds of other children go down during the course of a game, that’s when the germophobe in me begins to gag. As a solution to this problem, the team should invest in having a person on staff that dons a hazmat suit and sprays some sort of aerosol that decontaminates the entire structure every hour on the hour in order to prevent the spread of these infectious diseases. I know when I bring my kids - pardon me: “kidz” - home that day, I’ll sleep a little better knowing they have been cared for by the team I love so dearly.
- Install a traffic light in the third base coaches’ box
Am I picking on poor Odubel? Sure. But think about the ways the team can spend money WHILE SAVING MONEY at the same time.
With the team taking a more dedicated approach to analytics, there will soon be statistics available in which we are able to quantify the success rate of sending a runner home when the ball is hit at a certain speed to a certain part of the field. These calculations can then be fed into a computer, which in turn would direct the traffic light on whether or not a player should advance another base or stay put. This can also be used for a runner rounding second, trying to make it into third safely.
Having this computer-based traffic signal would also allow the team to no longer dedicate resources to a human in need of a job in the box. That person can be to a more worthwhile job, such as signal maintenance, etc. They have always talked about trying to get ahead in the analytical field. I see no better way than this.
- EXTEND THE PROTECTIVE NETTING ALL THE WAY TO THE FOUL POLE!!!!!
All of these other ideas were obviously silly, but let’s end on a serious note. The team must extend the netting. Be a leader in taking the initiative of prioritizing fan safety and extend the netting all the way down to the foul pole. We can debate the height of the netting and I gladly would, but there is no real reason anymore why this shouldn’t be standard in every ballpark. I honestly don’t want to hear about “people should pay attention!”, “I spent my good money on those seablah blah blah...” It’s time for these arcane arguments to end.
I am the father to twin three year old children who, when I am able to go, like going to a game every now and then. My preference is to sit in the lower bowl of the stadium, since I like being closer to the action. When I do go, there is no chance that I am able to keep my child’s attention on the field at all times. Not when there is food to be eaten, stadium graphics that dance, Phanatic routines to take in and just basic conversation to be had. In my opinion, having that netting available to protect my children in case of a scorched line drive or an overthrown ball is probably the most basic thing the team can do in terms of stadium safety. There will always be people who whine and complain about obstructed views and whatnot, but I think it’s time we realize how ridiculous these arguments actually are. Extend the net before it’s too late.
These are but a few ideas for improving the stadium. I am certain that any one of these will bring more fans to the ballpark. Let’s hope somebody important is listening.