04/10/08 9:19 PM ET
Crown Vision gets high marks all around
Players enjoy Kauffman Stadium's new larger-than-life screen
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
That's the take of Royals players on the centerpiece of the Kauffman Stadium renovation: The Crown Vision board that looms large over the outfield.
There's a high-definition look at fans kissing and cheering, the ketchup-relish-mustard race, players saying funny stuff, Garth Brooks singing and replays of game highlights.
"It's pretty amazing. Honestly, the replays look better than the plays did in real life," left fielder Mark Teahen said.
"That thing is huge. I really didn't expect it to be that big," center fielder Joey Gathright said.
"It creates a cool atmosphere in the park," catcher John Buck said.
So far, Crown Vision has created no real problems for players. On the first day, against the Yankees, Buck noticed a bit of difficulty following certain pitches.
"[It can be an issue] when it's a high pitch and the ball's up a little bit. The first time I noticed it was when [Ron] Mahay came in. He throws that high 12-to-6 curveball and he left it up twice," Buck said. "If he keeps it there, it's right up there in the hits, runs and left-on-base little thing. It came right out of there and, whoo, when it gets mixed up in there, it screws up your depth perception."
But it's nothing, Buck said, that he couldn't get used to in a hurry. Keep in mind, that's the view from a catcher squatting, a view no other player has.
"Hitting, you don't see it at all," Buck said.
The on-screen movement, of course, is stopped before a pitch to avoid distractions. The video board has not caused problems for hitters.
"I thought it would. We all thought it would. But I hardly even notice it when I'm hitting," Gathright said.
If there was a problem, you'd hear about it.
"We ballplayers are just being picky," Buck said. "We get the big green wall and we want to see nothing but ball on wall. How did we hit in Little League and Babe Ruth when all we had was a six-foot fence with no backdrop? It didn't seem to bother us then."
The first two games against the Yankees were played in cold and rain.
"The last few days, you can see it better on the screen than you do live because it's so clear," second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said. "It's foggy and rainy and stuff, but you look up there and it's beautiful."
Wednesday night's game was played in a steady rain and, from the press box, large puddles were on display vividly.
"The new board is so bright, I believe it was the reflection from that big scoreboard," head groundskeeper Trevor Vance said. "It looked worse than it was."
Pitcher Brett Tomko watched part of the game on TV in the clubhouse.
"When I was watching on TV, it looked like it was all water," Tomko said. "Then I went out and it wasn't that bad. So Trevor and I are on the same page."
From Buck's catching perspective, it was quite a view.
"I could see the colors changing on the infield and I think that was the reflection off the water," Buck said. "That didn't help it look dry because when it was blue, the whole infield looked blue. When it was red, the whole infield looked red."
The board dispenses a lot of information and great replays.
"I think it's fine, it's perfect. The size of it is monstrous. The clarity, too," Grudzielanek said. "When you see a replay, it's beautiful. Watching the play develop, where the pitch is, where you hit it. It's really nice."
The consensus was that Crown Vision gets two thumbs up.
"It's better than some of the TVs I have in my house," Buck said.
And, yep, sometimes the guys sneak a peek at themselves.
"If you make a diving play, sometimes you have to check it out," Gathright said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.