It’s Opening Day 2017, and Kram has a message for Phillies fans everywhere
Dear Phillies Fan,
Welcome to the 2017 season. Like all baseball fans everywhere, I know you have hopes and dreams for this years squad. It could happen, of course. The veterans they brought in could really perform. Young starts like Franco, Odubel and Joseph could take the next step right before your eyes. And, an underrated starting rotation could surprise many in the NL East. It could happen.
But, it probably won’t. Hopefully they’ll be competitive and interesting for you to follow, but there might be times when they drop a bunch of games in a row. You’ll be temped to jump on the Twitter Machine and vent. You’ll tweet things like, “Bring up the kids,” and “It couldn’t be any worse,” and “I want to see them.”
Well, put your phone back in your pocket and don’t send those tweets. The “kids” aren’t getting called up until they’re ready. None of them are being blocked by anyone currently on the Phillies. There’s no Ryan Howard’s contract standing in the way. Heck, last year there was Ryan Howard’s contract, and Tommy Joseph still got the call and the playing time anyway because he earned it and because he was ready.
So pipe down. The future of your team depends on it. Also, I want to let you know one more thing:
That’s right. Please accept my personal invitation to make the short pilgrimage to Coca Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania to see those prospects you so covet, up close and personal. We’d be happy to have you.
Look, we do it all the time. Folks drive one hour south to see the Phillies and the Flyers and the Eagles from their homes in the Lehigh Valley. There’s no reason you can’t take a trip up here to see the prospects you’ve been longing to watch. If you live in Delaware or South Jersey or Maryland, it’s still not that far, and there are places you can stay over, right near the park, if you want.
To try to make it easier, and to make sure you feel welcome, I thought up a couple “advanced” things that might help you. Keep these things in mind when planning your trip:
- The Drive: You can come in via the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike, route 476, or there are ways to take 309 or 611. Once in the Lehigh Valley, just remember that Rt-22 is our version of the Schuylkill and if you’re headed to the arena for Phantoms, 7th Street is our version of Broad Street. No problem. Just plan on that.
- Parking: Parking is $5 and plentiful, within easy walking distance for Coca Cola Park. Getting out isn’t so difficult, either.
- Tickets: The stadium is roughly one-quarter the size of Citizens Bank Park. All the seats are good. And, right around $10. Here are some advanced-level considerations:
- Go for the third-base side so that you’re closer to the team and you don’t have to look into the sun. That’s where the autographs are, too, if you’re into that kind of thing.
- Go for the club level if you want access to climate control and a full bar.
- Other interesting areas to sit: The Hot Corner. Oasis Tables in left field. The Pig Pen, basically on the field in left. The Bacon Strip, our version of the seats atop the Green Monster. The PicNic patio was completely re-done this off-season and should be cool as well.
- If you can’t find seats, General Admission is fine. You’re not limited to sitting on the lawn. You can walk about, find a drink rail to pull up to behind home plate and see the game better than 85% of the seats in Citizens Bank Park. Plus, if you buy GA with loaded credit (face it, you’re buying a soda or something anyway) it’s only $5–that’s the same as your parking!
- If you really have difficulty with tickets, hit me up. I know some additional tricks and would be happy to help if that’s really your limiting factor preventing you from coming to a game.
- Concessions: Most beers are around $6 for normal sized versions, and there are many, many concessions. Walk around and check out what’s available. My recommendation: Craft beers in the Biergarten, Aw Shucks Corn, and the new donut-roll pork sandwich. But….
- Concourse: …it’s important to know that the concourse is 360 degrees and the stadium is small. So, you can take a walk around the whole place pretty quickly and check everything out. No, you won’t have time to try all 347 unique menu offerings, but you’ll find something you like without missing much of the game. Get there early if you want, main gates are 1h 15mins before game time except on Thursday when happy hour starts at 5PM.
- The Scoreboard: We’ve got a new video board with the same resolution and brightness as the one at Citizen’s Bank Park. Come check it out.
- Bring Your Kids: Minor league baseball was made for them. Walk them around the concourse, and stop in at the playground in left field. There’s plenty to see and do, and if they make you buy them food and souvenirs, well, it’ll be a much cheaper trip than the one to the big stadium. Kids will enjoy field level more than club level.
“But Kram, the IronPigs are on the road every chance I get to make the trip.”
Fine. Check out Reading’s schedule. There are a fair few prospects in Baseballtown as well. America’s Classic Ballpark is also a great place to watch a game and a piece of Phillies history as well. Parking is free. Beer is cheap. The buffet is excellent. And here are a couple more tips:
- Try to get blue seats not because they’re closer, but because they’re a bit bigger.
- Check out the deck and boardwalk in left field.
- The stuffed pretzels are excellent
- The stand under the seats has the best shoestring french fries IN THE WORLD.
“But Kram, I don’t drive and I don’t have a car and I live in Montana and I just want to watch on TV.”
Right. I suspected as much. Most of those who are the first to emote about the big club aren’t the same people who are in the stands at the games anyway. So many folks with the game on TV in the background are just bored with the product and want to “change the channel” by calling up different players. You’ll get bored with them as well–especially if they’re not ready and struggle, or aren’t ready to play every day and aren’t in the lineup anyway.
Here’s the thing: All of the IronPigs games are on TV. That’s right, purchase yourself an MiLB.TV subscription and you’ll see them all–so long as you don’t live in the Lehigh Valley where home games are blacked out via that service. I can’t speak about the away games, but the HD video feeds for the local broadcasts are provided by our friends here at Service Electric Cable TV, who broadcast every game. The quality is excellent, and you millennials don’t have a cable subscription anyway, do you?
And those who are at the stadium in Philly? As much as you might say you want to see the minor leaguers: The minute they fail–and they will–you’ll be pointing out that you don’t want to bay big league prices for minor league ball. You can’t have it both ways, so just drive up north. We’ll be happy to show you around.
See you at the park,
PS: Are you a Flyers fan too? Have you been longing to see hockey prospects like Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim and Nic Aube-Kubel? We might be hosting some playoff hockey in the near future if you would just give us our players back. Why not visit the PPL Center for playoff hockey? Huh? Just—leave the bracelets at home, OK? We don’t throw them here.