The Reading Phillies’ crazy Home Run Derby is going to be an all-out assault on your senses


We gotta give the Reading Phillies some credit. While the rest of us just write articles on how to improve the Home Run Derby or make nominal changes like adding gold baseballs, the Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies has emptied its imagination and made it an onfield reality for this year's Home Run Derby for the Eastern League All-Star game.

But we also must ask the question: What's in the water over there in Reading, Pa.? The plans for the derby/hitting challenge are so colorful and weird that you figure they were conceived by a bored mini-golf course manager on an acid trip.

(That is a compliment, by the way. Or at least we think it is.)

The plans for the July 10 event are also so nutty they require an entire video for R-Phils' GM Scott Hunsicker to illustrate all of them. Jump to the 1:00 mark for the start of his explanation.

So, to recap:

• The team will host a party for 500 people on an infield that features a bar, a full-service grill, an oyster bar and a dessert stand. A 12-foot screen will protect the party attendees from errant line drives and any advances from your newest member of the Reading Phillies, first baseman Prince Fielder. (Don't believe that Detroit news.)

• Derby participants will earn points by hitting any of several outfield targets, including an R-Phils intern bouncing on a trampoline, a R-Phils intern dangling from the end of a crane and a R-Phils intern sitting in a dunk tank. In related news, the Reading Phillies are considering implementing the first-ever intern disabled list this season.

• Derby participants will be penalized for any baseballs caught by roving mascots in the outfield. Who, by the way, will be busy dodging the "golf ball picker upper" that players can also hit for bonus points.

• As for points generated by, you know, actually hitting a home run, we just have to assume they will be awarded. Hunsicker never says for sure. With the spectacle they're trying to create here, it probably won't matter much anyway.

Still, we're really eager to see the scene in Reading come July 10.

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