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A’s Unveil Renderings Of Yet Another Ballpark That Will Never Be Built

The Oakland Athletics, such as they are, have brought to us a new version of the thing they do best: artists' renderings of ballparks in which they will never play. This latest one, which in true A's tradition seems to put the sun in the wrong place, is supposed to represent the latest in ballpark technology when in fact it really looks only like the product of an unsatisfying sexual liaison between the Sydney Opera House and the Barbie Dream House. 

Set aside for now the farce of the A’s blowing their own embargo on these images, because we already know they can’t do anything right. Theirs is an uninterrupted run of fanciful undergrad art projects that never leave the easel because under noted potato impersonator John Fisher and his wingless wingman Dave Kaval, they never get anything accomplished, as part of their grand strategy to wait for someone else to accomplish it for them.

But let's forgo all that, if only to offer the possibility that the sun is misplaced because the A's are already examining the possibility of moving the franchise to Arrakis. Because they've done so many artists’ renderings pretending that this is actual progress, this new one is regarded as just another retelling of their old joke, like a comedian who never gets past five-minute sets on open mic nights. It reveals Fisher's truest documented interest as an art collector, and we are beginning to suspect that he is just filling up the walls of his "me" room with all the ballpark renderings he has commissioned to hide the wallpaper.

But if he actually wanted our attention on the sport itself despite his repetitive failure to actually stack one brick atop another brick, he wouldn't show us renderings of the outside. On that subject, the nation lost interest well before the mythical Howard Terminal. What he and his shrinking coterie of noddy-headed yes-beings could do instead is show more than one shot of an actual playing field, as though what he actually owns is not a CAD software company but a baseball team. If he wanted the focus to be on the game, he could cram that field full of all the weird quirks and mutations through the decades that make baseball parks the only kind of architecture that allow—insist upon—deviations from the norm.

At least then we could say, "Well, it's still never getting built, but at least he seems to finally comprehend that he isn't building the Jetsons’ local strip mall."

They could violate baseball rules and steal the old Yankee Stadium right field—296 feet away with a wall of less than four feet in height. Instead of the antiseptic view of the right fielder of the day (who is no doubt earning the major league minimum) jumping in vain for a home run against a dark green wall with no advertising (you can guess why on your own), you could have players tumbling into the stands into cardboard cutouts of fans who could conceivably be there in person if the A's were ever interesting again. Conversely, they could put a gigantic net across the length of the left field fence like the old Los Angeles Coliseum to make home runs as difficult for righthanded pull hitters as they would be easy for lefthanded pull hitters, and when visiting players complained that it wasn't a fair park, they could say with a straight face, "You're playing against team with a $45 million payroll. How many advantages do you need?"

They could reinstitute the old outfield terrace from Crosley Field, the old Cincinnati ballpark, a ridge which ran across the outfield and was impactful enough for Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to say, "You couldn't just run up the terrace, you had to climb it. And if there was a ball over your head, you could never climb it fast enough to make a play against the wall." They could also resuscitate the hill at the deep end of center field that the Houston Astros installed at Minute Maid Park in 2000 before getting rid of it in a ballpark redo 16 years later. They could put flagpoles in the playing field (Houston, Yankee Stadium), batting cages and statues of soldiers (Pittsburgh), even trees if they wanted to. Make the outfield an actual field—uneven, obstacled, an emerald ocean of treachery in every step.

They could bring back the bullpen cages down the foul lines at Tiger Stadium, in which relievers sat below field level while being unable to decipher what was going on in the game they would eventually appear in. They could even acknowledge their own mutant history and restore the rabbit that used to rise from below the ground behind home plate to deliver baseballs to the home plate umpire instead of having ball kids do it—which should if nothing else appeal to Fisher's sense of thrift. They could hang the press box over the backstop to make every screaming foul ball a potential accident for ball writers, something else Fisher would happily approve.

There are lots of opportunities here to bring back chaos to the increasingly staid national pastime, and even if, as we all suspect, this park would be as fanciful as all the others in the A's panoply of construction falsehoods, at least this time we'd pay attention to the artists' renderings. Misplacing the sun is a gimmick you can only use the one time. After that, all you're really doing is pissing off Neil deGrasse Tyson. It's just something for John, Dave, and their army of interns to keep in mind for the next renderings, when the A's unveil their new ballpark plan in … ohh, let's give this one some time to percolate and say mid-May.

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