Not drawing any fans to the ballpark? Here's an option

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You could always, I dunno, stretch giant pieces of vinyl with photos of fans on them over the seats to make it look like you have a full house.

In a bid to improve the ambiance, make its games look better on TV, earn a
little extra advertising revenue and save a little money on game-day
operations, Triestina has installed what is believed to be the sports
world’s first “virtual crowd.” The team won’t say how much it paid to
produce and install the PVC covering, which features images of real
Triestina fans, but between the money the team will save by eliminating
stewards, attendants, medical staff and insurance for the shuttered
seats (about $130,000 per season) and the extra ad revenue it may earn,
team owner Stefano Fantinel says the experiment “will pay for itself
very soon.”

Click through for a pic of it. It’s . . . interesting.

Probably wouldn’t be necessary for baseball in that you really only see the bulk of the crowd on home runs and fly balls and folks tend not to get too weirded out by empty ballpark seats.

But football is having a hard time drawing fans these days. And really, given the way football economics work — TV is everything, and viewership is booming — it’s not totally wrong to think of it as a sport that takes place in thirty one individual television studios around the nation. Why not use props?

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.