Monday, February 23, 2009
Things We Can Learn From The Blackhawks
So, I went to the Blackhawks game last night against the Wild (we lost), and I couldn't help but see all the missed opportunities in baseball when the Blackhawks get it so right. I mean, this is a game where you've got to take two extended breaks to treat the ice with a Zamboni, creating a huge gap in gameplay, and yet I still didn't feel as though I was missing something - rather, I was absorbed in the experience. To contrast, people bitch about how boring baseball is all the time! Here's a few things other hometown teams can learn from the Hawks.
#1. More scantily-clad women. With the exception of the actual Cubs FANS, the closest thing to the Blackhawks Ice Girls are the girls who throw crap into the crowd between innings at Sox games. Not only are the women at US Cellular only mildly attractive, but they are fully clothed, and only appear for brief intervals over the course of the game. To contrast, the Ice Girls came out at least six times over the course of the game, wearing nothing more than the Christmas section of Lover's Lane.
This is probably our biggest area for improvement. First of all, it's Summer for baseball - those girls could stand to wear less if the Ice Girls can dress like that ON ICE. Second, how about making some of the more crappy maintenance sections worth my while? When the grounds crew comes out to rake the dirt, clean the mound, or spray water on the infield, send scantily-clad women instead of older men in uniform. Your patrons will thank you.
#2. The Million Dollar Thing. The current "Win a Million Bucks If The Hawks Score With Exactly 10:00 Remaining in the 2nd Period" is absolutely genius. Not only do we get to see this poor shmuck on the Jumbotron biting his nails (who everyone is now rooting for to win money), but we're all rooting for the Hawks to score at the 10:00 mark like crazy (for the record, they scored a goal with the clock at 9:57 in the game I was at. Holy shit). In baseball, the closest thing we have is "Win a free coffee if they score in inning X."
That's no fun! Not only do those crazy bastards at Dunkin' Donuts never check the results of the game (as far as they know, the Sox have scored in the 4th inning every time I go to a game), but nobody really gets excited for it and high-fives eachother, going "FUCK YEAH! FREE COFFEE!" Pick some random schlub out of the crowd and have HIM pick a pitch number for the opposing pitcher (e.g., "#22"). If that pitch gets knocked out of the park, he wins a shitload of cash. Not only is there crazy anticipation on the pitch from both hitter and pitcher, but there's anticipation from the fans who want to jump him after the game. Other possibilities include "Win Money if Home Team Hits an Inside The Park Homerun in Inning X", "Win Money if Mark Buerhle Throws over 95 MPH" or even "Win Money if Soriano Doesn't Bunny Hop Like a Retard in LF."
It's a win-win, people.
#3. Zambonis fucking rule. Let's face it - Zambonis kick ass. Not only do the Hawks charge people to ride on them (not even to drive, mind you!), but it's a car you drive on ice. That's pretty badass. People are mystified as it drives laps at 2 MPH between periods. Baseball can do even better. The Sox have that huge Chevy sponsorship, right? Instead of just rolling the truck out between innings, USE IT.
Attach one of those dirt grates to the back and let someone cut loose on the infield. Not only would it be kickass to watch, but it also rakes the infield dirt. Alternatively, allow fans to race lawnmowers in the outfield. It keeps the grass short, keeps the fans entertained, and the possibility of a wipeout is just too good to pass up.
#4. Deliberately pick hot chicks for on-field events. If you have to do the stupid "hit the shot, win a prize" game (and let's be honest, you have to), at least pick contestants worth a damn. The Hawks have a brilliant formula - pick a kid, an average Joe, and a hot chick. Let all three go one after another and take MULTIPLE SHOTS. It gets everyone invested, from Moms (go little kid!) to guys (go hot chick!) to everyone else (go average Joe!).
The Sox have the dinky between innings "hit a homerun" for kids, and while that's all well and good, let some fans take BP. Combine it into an "Old Timer's Appreciation" thing (can you hit a Blackjack McDowell fastball now that he's in his 50s? What about a Mike Sirotka pitch after surgery #348?). It's fun for everyone - watch the guy strike out trying to impress his friends, watch the hot chick fall on her ass, and watch the kid get hit in the face with a fastball. It's genius.
#5. Stop Breaking Up Fights. Yes, even the NHL is trying to keep fighting to a minimum now, but on Bob Probert appreciation night (the only man to get close to having more penalty minutes than minutes on the ice) you want to see some blood. Hockey prides itself on the violence - even when your team is losing, there's still the chance of fucking up some other guy by bringing in your goon.
In baseball, you get a WARNING for TRYING to hit someone. Not for actually DOING IT, but for GETTING CLOSE. This is bullshit. Innocent until proven guilty, I say. No warnings unless someone DOES get hit, and even then, the guy who got hit is allowed to retaliate. Mano a mano, no help from other teammates. Just pitcher versus batter (batter is not allowed to bring the bat with). The loser of the fight get ejected. Make it count, people!
And that's just FIVE ways...