Baseball's an afterthought in the PK Park razzle-dazzle.
In an Aug. 13 guest viewpoint, the general manager of the Eugene Emeralds says compliments far outweigh criticisms of the way baseball is being presented at Ozymandias Coliseum - er, I mean PK Park. Were you shocked? I was! Shocked, stunned and surprised! (Surely he did not pull a Newt Gingrich and inflate that figure in his favor by pushing the Phantom Supporter Button.)
I am amazed that anyone would think that the chief operating officer of an enterprise would say that the enterprise that he is head of is doing "grrrrreat!" if it were not. No CEO ever would make such a claim if it were not true. Look at Enron - no, wait, I mean Bear Stearns - um, I mean Goldman Sachs - Lehman Brothers? Merrill Lynch?
Oh, never mind, you get the idea. It's just not done, period.
The Ems claimed an attendance of more than 100,000 last year, following 25 straight years of 100,000-plus attendance under Bob Beban (a baseball man, not a marketing man). Baseball America's 2011 Almanac gave Eugene's attendance as 56,810.
No big deal; 12 of one, a half-dozen of another. Whatever it was, Eugene had the largest decline in attendance in the league last year.
Since I got out of the Army in 1992, I had been bringing kids, grandkids and friends of same to 10 or so games a year. We would get hot dogs, slushees and ice cream-filled batting helmets.
I miss that, I really do. But I will never, under any imaginable circumstances, bring my kids or grandkids to a game at PK Park, where baseball is strictly an afterthought, parking is not free, ticket prices have doubled, food choices have been cut drastically, and where you can't talk to your friends between innings.
As a ball fan, it is my opinion that many of the folks who go to PK Park do so out of curiosity or in the misguided opinion that going there somehow is supporting the Ducks, not as baseball fans.
As a dad and granddad, I am angry that a family tradition has been taken away from me. The environment at PK Park is not one for baseball fans; it is a curiosity for gawkers and rubberneckers, and the few true fans of the game who might still go there eventually will be driven away by the high cost, the incessant noise and the distractions. (Sorry, Sluggo, mascots are for the under-7 crowd. And while that crowd may like him - it? - mascots are not going to build a fan base. When those kids get to be 9 or 10, getting a chance to see Sluggo and his hilarious high jinks is just not going to make them want to go to a ball game.)
And one more thing (the first thing I noticed, actually): Before the first game at PK Park, in the grass-seed capital of the world, they have an all-artificial turf field.
Jamie Selko of Eugene is the author of a book on minor league baseball, "Minor League All-Star Teams, 1922-1962," a paid contributor to the Minor League Encyclopedia and a named contributor to all of the Society for American Baseball Research's minor league books.