With the exception of racial integration, baseball has always been a bit behind the times. From facial hair to anti-disco sentiment to pro-Macarena sentiment and everything in between, you can bet that if a trend is hitting big someplace in this nation, you’ll see it in a ballpark … eventually.
Which is what makes me think that the food truck thing has peaked. Because they’re doing it at a ballpark now:
On Thursday, Aramark Corporation, which runs the food venues at Coors Field, rolled out Wok in the Park, a truck serving noodle bowls and egg rolls on the first-level concourse. It’s the first food truck to be stationed inside a major sports venue in the country … “The Rockies are always challenging us to be creative and to have a lot of variety. And we saw that the one gap we had in our ethnic food concepts was Asian. The truck is really conducive to any concept.” All of the food is made fresh inside the truck, he adds. “This is no scoop-and-serve operation. That’s the beauty of these trucks. They’re fully self contained.”
I never ever leave my home so I don’t get to a lot of food trucks, but isn’t the point of those things to (a) make it possible for would-be restaurateurs to get moving without bricks-and mortar overhead; and (b) to bring the food to where the people are, rather than to make the people go some fixed location for the food? A variety of food in lots of people-friendly locations? And isn’t it also the case that, by their very nature, that’s what every single ballpark food vendor is?
Seriously: look around the next time you’re at the ballpark. The unique food out on the concourse are at little stations which can be broken down and moved anywhere. Even those fixed Aramark outlets could be changed over to anything in about two hours. With rare exceptions, food options in ballparks are duplicated and triplicated or more, with no one having to walk too terribly far to get what they want. And the existing stands have the added bonus of not having the potential to run over people on concourses that were never intended for vehicular traffic.
So why a food truck? Because it’s hip! Because that’s where all the cool kids are getting their pork rib tacos or meatballs or whatever these days! Why not take it to the ballpark!
Congratulations food trucks. You’re now the culinary equivalent of Disco Demolition Night. Or planking. Or flash mobs. If the ballparks have you, you’re over.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP