Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Phighting a name change

In a move that has not inspired much love from fans, one of my favorite baseball teams that plays in one of my favorite parks, the Reading Phillies, has 're-branded' themselves as...the Fightin Phils.

And to judge from the comments on the F-Phils Facebook page, the ratio of dislike to like is about 99-1, and I think the one might be the hot dog guy who runs around in an ostrich suit (talk about job security!).

With only a few exceptions, I can only think of a few instances where re-branding really helped an entity the way the owners hoped it would. The most successful one I can think of is Verizon - remember Bell Atlantic? It was time to move away from the old phone company image and they did so rather nicely.

But baseball is something else. Despite the huge salaries in the major leagues, the steroid scandals and the inflated regular season and playoff schedules, baseball still defies the pace of modern life. It is slow and intricate - one of the only sports where you can sit in the stands and read a novel without missing too much of the action.

The game is nostalgia, and both the major and minor leagues have capitalized on that in everything from uniforms to the design of the stadiums. No, the ticket, food and beer prices aren't very nostalgic, but at least the minor league parks are still affordable.

So I can imagine what the marketing company from San Diego was thinking when they presented this change - take a beloved nickname from the parent organization and apply it to the minor-league team. And for a about that craz-ee hot dog guy who runs around in an ostrich suit? Everybody seems to like that. Run it by a couple of focus groups ("Yeah! Love the ostrich! Love the Fightin' Phils!") and you have a winner.

But...from the comments...

Reading Phillies photo
  • An ostrich is a nasty bird that buries its head in the sand when things get rough.
  • Ostriches are not native to Reading or Pennsylvania.
  • The name sounds like a college football team.
  • The name is a well-known nickname for another team.
  • The team logo is an 'F' formed into arms with fists. Reading has enough violence already, thanks.
  • When things go bad for the team, the name lends itself to abuse (have to use your imagination for that one).  
 There's more, you can look for yourself.

I realize that this isn't exactly a burning issue of the day - despite the change, the games will be the same, the stadium is still great, a warm summer evening under the lights will always be a good way to spend some time. But I am curious as to how this will play out - will the naysayers win and turn the shiny new brand into New Coke or will fans learn to love this new identity? 

See you at the ball park.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Mardi Gras, from the sidewalk

     Watched the Lansdale Mardi Gras parade this afternoon sitting at the corner of West Main and Wood Street, diagonally across from Molly's. The window at Molly's would have been a better location, with sunlight pouring in and a nice beer on the table, but that would have made me a terrible parent. So we sat on the street with the kids and got lots of candy.

    RIP, Mayor Mike!

    Did anybody else think, "C'mon, kid, the store's about to close!"

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    In a fog

    ...early Sunday morning in Lansdale.

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Still with us

    Here we are on Day 5, and many neighborhoods around Lansdale still don't have power.

    Con Com Ed crew on Plymouth Road

    Driving around Lower Gwynedd today, I saw utility crews from Illinois, New York (?!?) and Florida working on downed wires. One Lower Gwynedd resident brought the Florida crew on hot coffee as they worked on downed wires on Plymouth Road. He said he has not had power since Monday.

    Florida crew at work in Lower Gwynedd

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Lessons from Sandy

    It has been three days since Sandy slapped the east coast, and the clean-up continues (and will keep going for weeks in some locations).

    I was one of the lucky ones - our power never went out, we didn't miss a minute of reality TV or internet service. No trees crashed into our house, and the basement remains desert-dry. Even the little ceramic Halloween ghosts I left outside hanging on a tree survived to scare another day.
    For many of our neighbors and friends, however, things didn't go so nicely. My father and sister still have no power (in NJ and upstate NY respectively), and other friends in this area are also without power. One neighbor had to go to Perkasie to help bail out a basement (no power = no sump pump = wet basement) while another has a giant tree to remove from their side yard (missed the house by a few feet).

    And many of the Jersey shore towns we know so well are wrecked - some to the point where a serious discussion will need to happen as to whether they should be rebuilt. Same for New York City - the 108-year-old subway system is facing a crisis as it is mostly unprotected from New York Harbor. The destruction of the Point Breeze neighborhood in Queens was tragic on multiple levels - fire trucks couldn't even get to the neighborhood for two hours and once they did, they didn't have enough water pressure to do much. Irony!

    Now that life is starting to get back to normal for most east-coasters, we have a little time to think about what we can learn from this storm.

    My in-laws used this elevator last Friday during a visit to NYC. AP photo   
    • Though I was lucky, it would have taken little for that luck to evaporate. If the storm moved a little slower, or turned a little north, this could have been much worse for us inlanders.
    • Our coastline is more vulnerable than ever. No matter what you think about global climate change, this storm proves that destruction can and will happen. We really need to think about how we build and how much effort will go into re-building these shore towns over and over. And this isn't just an east coast thing - think about earthquake and tsunami zones around the world.
    • We have a lot of e-eggs in one basket. Some big web sites went down because their data centers were in NYC with no real backup. Our transactions, our information, and our economy are more and more dependent on the Internet, which fails pretty easily when the power is out.
    • In a big emergency, help might not come. Once the wind started howling Monday night, emergency crews were driving all over for reports of fires, downed wires, trees into houses, etc. But in Queens, there was no way for help to arrive. And NJ Gov. Christie called it right when he warned shore residents that they would not get help once the storm started.


    And a few small practical items:
    Life without Tastykakes
    • Let the dog pee / poop in the house. A guy in Berks county was killed when he went outside with his dog and was whacked by a tree branch. A plastic bag and some carpet cleaner could save your life.
    • Don't dig a moat around your shed. It probably won't help anyway.
    •  Don't stock up on perishable food before a big storm. Unless you really want to eat it all at once when the power and / or the generator fails.
    •  There are no good recipes for bottled water and white bread.
    • Jeopardy! will not air during a big storm. But Honey Boo-Boo continues uninterrupted.
    • Road Closed signs are usually there for a good reason. If you see cars turning around down a long road, don't bother driving up to find out if it is actually open. It isn't. 
    • When high-power transformers short out, it sounds like an ocean liner horn.
    • Everybody orders sausage sandwiches at Wawa after a storm. But they never run out of cheese.