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The 0-2 count: Chuck Steinberg's public address experiment just an awful idea

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  March 11, 2014 02:58 PM

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I’m having a hard time determining whether Dr. Charles Steinberg’s comments to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford are genuine, or if he’s fully content in becoming a parody of himself.

For their spring training game against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday in Fort Myers, Fla., the Red Sox decided to have their public address announcer deliver balls and strikes after each pitch, along with the count at JetBlue Park. It’s a terrible idea that Steinberg told Bradford was “vigorously debated for more than a year in the offices of Boston.”

“The idea being that everything about a baseball game, particularly in recent years, seems to focus on the count, the difference between 2-0 and hitting 1-2, and in a way that imposed gently, brings people closer to the game,” Steinberg said. “The announcer will update the count after each pitch.”

What the…

What the hell?

Maybe we could forgive this atrocity if it were a one-time blunder on the part of the Red Sox (or, as some have opined, brilliant trolling with the Marlins in town after last week’s episode in Jupiter). But if this was “vigorously debated” in the front offices, we can only hope that means it was everyone else telling Steinberg where to stick it.

“We’ll see if it makes it till 'Sweet Caroline' and if the crowd doesn’t like it we’ll probably view it as too small a sample size and try it again.”

Real-life comment there.

“I believe it’s been done in minor league parks,” Steinberg said. "If you watch Bull Durham, you’ll hear the PA announcer play a more active role in the game.”

Neat. I also saw Susan Sarandon in a bathtub, something I’d infinitely welcome more than having unnecessary white noise forced down my ear tubes at a baseball game.

I’d ask how stupid Steinberg must think Red Sox fans to be, but it’s sort of a rhetoric question at this point. “The debate that has ensued, that has taken place for more than a year will no doubt continue,” he told Bradford. “It’s just that you now have a small test study under your belt. One of the things you want to make sure is that the PA announcer is gentle with it but that it’s not a partial interruption. Some of us like the idea that mom can have a conversation with her teenage daughter in this ambiance, but others would say, ‘True, but it’s not guns or butter. You can have that conversation.’ And be updated on the count so that perhaps your attention focuses on that 3-2 pitch.”

Guns or butter? Oh my good God, I have a headache.

Besides stating the obvious that anyone in the ballpark can check up on the count simply by looking at the scoreboard, I fear there’s a dirty little reason for Dr. Charles coming up with such a ludicrous plan. What if Cumberland Farms sponsored full counts? What if passed balls were brought to you by Dr. Robert Leonard? “There’s another Shaw’s Strikeout.”

“Red Sox fans are really good about letting us know what they think,” Steinberg said. “But it may be like Brussels sprouts, an acquired taste. You may need a couple games to try it out. Some people just don’t like Brussels sprouts.”

I hate Brussels sprouts, Chuck.

And I really, really hate this idea.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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