This offseason, there has been a lot of talk about bringing back bullpen carts. We at South Side Sox are, of course, big proponents of fun things in baseball, and bullpen carts are a far better visual than watching a guy who pitches three innings a week jog in from the outfield. And with the advances made in electric vehicles that wouldn’t pollute the field, remote vehicles such as drones, and even autonomous, self-driving, bullpen carts, baseball should take advantage of the opportunity to showcase new advances in on-field transportation.
I have taken it upon myself to design bullpen carts for all 30 teams (and by design, I mean, “give vague suggestions”):
Animal mascots are really quite straightforward. Just as with logos, which are just a picture of that animal, the Diamondbacks bullpen car will simply be a giant mechanical snake. Glistening in chrome, a series of hydraulic cylinders will allow a 20-foot-long mechanized snake to slither toward the mound while a relief pitcher rides high upon its back atop a leather saddle. It’s probably best if it primarily drives on the warning track to avoid tearing up too much grass, since the track can simply be raked clean again after the snake returns to its residence in a hole in center field, just beneath the batter’s eye.
The Braves are already a bit in the danger zone in terms of being offensive with their logo and tomahawk chicanery, so they get a Mitsubishi i-MiEV that says “Braves” on the side, in an inoffensive typeface like Garamond.
Relievers will ride onto the field atop the back of a fiberglass bird with wheels, painted to look like an oriole.
The Red Sox have a car and it’s actually quite good already, so we’ll go with that.
Clark the Cub will give pitchers a ride to the mound in the back of his beat-up, windowless panel van.
Carlton Fisk will give pitchers a ride to the mound on the back of his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Yeah, it’s an unremarkable 1997 Honda Civic. But it’s Red.
In anticipation of upcoming changes to their logo and branding, players will ride in atop the back of a 10-foot-long mechanical spider. But don’t get excited with visions of steampunk machines from Wild Wild West just yet — the spider will be hyper-realistic, with the eyes and hair and fangs and the whole bit.
I’ve never liked the Rockies’ mascot Dinger the Triceratops and I think we can do better. I suggest a rock golem robot, remote-controlled but made of actual rock. Relievers will ride to the mound on his shoulder like he is a smaller version of the Iron Giant, and also made of granite instead of some other material. I never really bought that the Iron Giant was actually iron, either. It’s got to be some sort of weird space alloy, right? But props to the creators of that movie for just calling him the Iron Giant and not trying to make up something stupid like unobtainium, which a whole series of people had to think was a good idea in order for that nonsense to make it into the final work.
It would be enough for some teams to just add some bodywork to a vehicle so that it looks roughly like a tiger, crouched and ready to pounce with its legs folded over the wheels to create fenders and a moving tail. But Detroit is Motor City, and they must have a bespoke vehicle built from the ground up. No electric nonsense here: This bullpen cart will be a roaring V8 that exhausts just beneath the tail. The only way in or out of the vehicle will be by climbing directly through the tiger’s mouth.
Some of these are obvious, but for the Royals, a horse drawn carriage seems a bit too obvious. Rather than a wheeled carriage, the Royals will use a litter — an enclosed chair carried by four shirtless, oiled-up members of the Royals grounds crew. A fifth member will walk ahead of the litter, scattering rose pedals. The reliever will be required to wave politely to the crowd for the duration of the march to the mound.
An autonomous wheeled platform built to look like a fluffy cloud will carry a reliever wearing angel wings, while two trumpeters riding at the rear of the vehicle play an introductory fanfare.
About 30 golf carts will line up around the warning track, honking at each other and occasionally inching forward but barely moving. After a few minutes in the cart, the reliever will become frustrated and get out to walk. The carts will not arrive until the third inning and will leave in the middle of the seventh.
Oscar Mayer is headquartered in nearby Madison. They have sausage races. There is no second choice here.
Regardless of who manager Paul Molitor calls for from the pen, both a lefty and a righty will arrive on a tandem bicycle. Bad luck if the guy they want to use was riding in front, as the other pitcher will have to ride back to the bullpen and try to steer from the rear seat.
Mr. Met will simply put a black bag over the reliever’s head and drag them to the mound under threat of personal injury.
A yellow cab that will drive pitchers twice around the warning track before the out-of-towners say, “here is fine,” slap a $20 in the driver’s hand and get out at third base.
Let’s not overthink this: Players will ride in on an actual elephant.
Sometimes practicality is more important than thematic accuracy. In the case of Philly, we’re going to use one of those caged-in carts used to pick up golf balls at driving ranges. The pickups will be modified to collect the “D” batteries that will inevitably pelt the cart on every trip back and forth to the mound. And during every pause in the game action while parked in the bullpen. And during pregame autograph sessions for young fans. And when the Citizens Bank Park is empty.
The choice here is a popemobile-style vehicle, with a clear, elevated rear section in which the pitcher will sit. He will don white robes and the silly hat incumbent of a popely figure, which will have to be laboriously put on in the bullpen before entering the car, and then removed again upon exit.
Aside from perhaps the Mustang from Bullitt, there is no more iconic representation of transportation in San Francisco than the cable car. Installing cable car tracks inside a ballpark is probably cost prohibitive, so let’s go with one of those trolleys you see driving around Naperville for some reason. It will have a delightful little bell. Job done.
Relievers will ride onto the field atop the back of a fiberglass bird with wheels, painted to look like an albatross. It’s a Rime of the Ancient Mariner joke, you guys.
Relievers will ride onto the field atop the back of a fiberglass bird with wheels, painted to look like a cardinal.
Pitchers will enter the field atop a cheaply-made, imported “hoverboard,” with just enough modification to make it look like relievers are standing on the back of a stingray.
The actual truck from Walker Texas Ranger.
Relievers will ride onto the field atop the back of a fiberglass bird with wheels, painted to look like a blue jay.
Players will ride in the back of a 1962 Lincoln Continental, four-door convertible limousine, like the one in which John F. Kennedy took his last ride. But not the actual car, because that would be in poor taste. Just an exact replica.