Like any season starting anew, it's going to take some time to work out the kinks.
That applied even more to the York Revolution game-day staff this year with a new responsibility: completing between-innings promotions in 90 seconds or less.
It's one of the new rules being implemented by the Atlantic League this season to speed up the completion times of games.
"It probably took the first couple series to get into that flow," Revs' on-field emcee Adam McCallister said. "That was probably the biggest part of it. Once we got into the flow of doing each promo a few a times we were like 'OK, we got it.' From the point when the season started to now, we've figured out what changes we've had to make."
Although the percentage of York's games completed in under three hours is about the same -- 41 percent this season compared to 42 percent last season -- they're not going as long. York's longest home game this season is 3:19. Last year, 14 of York's 57 nine-inning home games (or 25 percent) went 3:19 or longer.
"It used to be where last year if I would look up in, say, the seventh inning and we were at 2 hours and 30 minutes or 2 hours and 45 minutes, I'd say, 'We'll get done in 3 hours,'" Revs' president and general manager Eric Menzer said. "Now the new standard is I want to get out of there in 2 hours, 45 minutes. A game that goes 3 hours now feels like it's dragging, whereas last year that used to be the norm."
Production: Menzer believes many little things conducted by the Revs' front office and game-day staff has led to games being completed faster. Little things such as the two production meetings that take place among the Revolution officials each day -- a noon meeting with front-office personnel and a 5 p.m. meeting among the game-day staff to discuss upcoming promotions for the game that night.
There's also the testing of any new between-innings promotion before it hits the field and the adjustments that might have to be made with a promotion during the game.
A good example of that, according to McCallister, is the fruit race, a between-innings promotion where kids dress in fruit costumes and race around the bases.
"In years past the WellSpan video would finish and the P.A. (public address announcer) would say something and then throw it down to me and then we'd set up the race," said McCallister, who is in his third year as the Revs' on-field emcee. "Now, before the video is even finished, I start announcing the contest is starting. We've cut out the banter between him (the P.A.) and I."
The Revs' game-day staff, which includes about 15 people, has also been a bit more vigilant on picking out contestants better-suited for certain promotions.
"In years past it was much more random," McCallister said. "This year, for example, we've got to select certain age ranges of kids who can participate in the fruit race so we know they'll run fast enough to complete the race and they'll understand the directions and not run out to right field."
While promotions might appear more fast-paced than before, Menzer said they are just as entertaining.
"And I really don't think that any of our promotions are any shorter," Menzer said. "We just pay a lot more attention to getting on and off the field quicker."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.