PITTSBURGH — CHECK out the Pittsburgh Pirates' 2002 home schedule: Out of 80 home games, 70 are "promotional days." Fans can get anything from bobble-head dolls of famous Pirates to a replica of the latest Pirate pasta personality, Oliver Onion, who will compete in the Great Pittsburgh Pierogi Race. This pits life-size replicas of our lenten favorites against one another during the sixth inning of every home game.
When the pierogis aren't cluttering up the base paths, the team mascot, the Pirate Parrot, is propelling objects into the crowd, such as hotdogs or T-shirts.
Then there's the Q&A segment, displayed on the Jumbotron. But instead of asking the Pirate coaching staff a serious question about, say, expected improvement in the team's pitchers, we learn that the Pirate pitching coach prefers Wilma to Betty or was it Betty over Wilma?
Whatever happened to just watching baseball?
Here's my plan: First, have promotional days for the diehard fans. Upon entering the stadium each fan receives a pencil and a scorecard. The Jumbotron is turned off; the only scoreboard that will operate is the one that displays the box score and balls and strikes. Throughout the game, fans must stay seated until the change of bat. Let's face it, a fan should be consumed with the action on the field, not consuming junk food. Concession items will be limited to traditional baseball fare, such as hotdogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, and pop.
Finally, no between-inning antics no pierogi or bratwurst races, Q&As, trivia contests, and, most important, no loud music. Let baseball fans revel in baseball-only memories, like being in the stands when Brian Giles becomes the first Pirate to hit a ball out of the park and straight into the Allegheny. Or when Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home-run record. These are the moments that make baseball America's greatest pastime.
Robert J. Campbell teaches computers at Duquesne University.