Major League Baseball is back, for some reason, but because we live in a country where the semblance of normalcy is more important than actual positive change, the empty stands have either been replaced with PlayStation 1 characters or left empty as the ghosts of former baseball audiences can clap and cheer from beyond the gates of oblivion. “But wait,” said the Oakland A’s. “The listening experience of a baseball game is not just cheering fans and the crack of the bat. You need to hear someone walking up and down the stands yelling about hot dogs and beer!”
To that end, as reported by Today, The A’s have enlisted Oakland-area native and former real-life concessions employee Tom Hanks to record some dialogue that can be played alongside the simulated crowd noise during these coronavirus games. Apparently he says things like “Hot dogs here! Colossal hot dogs!” and “Not a ballgame without a hot dog! Who Wants a hot dog?” to… nobody, because there’s not really anyone there. It’s weird and definitely silly, but it’ll probably get at least a few people to tune in to A’s games to see if they can pick out Hanks’ voice.
That being said, it’s also a missed opportunity to actually have some fun with these extremely necessary and totally safe professional sports games. Nobody really cares about hearing Tom Hanks talk about his colossal hot dogs, they just want to hear Tom Hanks, so why not just let him be Tom Hanks? Let him quote movies. Let him crack jokes. Wouldn’t it be significantly more entertaining to watch a baseball game with nobody in the stands and an invisible specter shouting “I’m a lost toy!” or “Any questions?!” or “Wilson!” every once in a while? (Yes, we know Tom Hanks was in a famous baseball movie with some famous quotes, we’re leaving it out for the sake of irony.)
Also, to Oakland’s credit, the team did put out a little video promoting Hanks’ new job that snuck in a gag with a cat in the stands. That’s pretty good. Do more of that, please.