The Oakland A’s announced initial plans for a new ballpark on Wednesday, one that will be privately financed and keep the team in the town they’ve called home for the last half-century. There have been lots of reactions to the news, from positive to pessimistic to cautious and curious and everything in between. However, there is one hot take that stands out from the rest.
Peter Hartlaub, a pop culture critic for the S.F. Chronicle, looked into the inkblot test of the artist’s renderings and saw something beautiful. The design features a park that wraps around the perimeter of the stadium, extending from above the top deck all the way down to street level such that the public can walk around the whole thing. When Hartlaub saw the lush green flora and the lumpy entryway protrusions spread throughout, he was transported to one of the most iconic settings in literary and movie history: The Shire from The Lord of the Rings series.
As a baseball fan, Oakland fan and “Lord of the Rings” fan, I’m endorsing the hobbit-friendly design of the #HowardTerminal A’s ballpark.— Peter Hartlaub (@peterhartlaub) November 29, 2018
Which I will be calling “The Shire” if built to these specifications. pic.twitter.com/o9clEZoMOH
To be clear, this is not a criticism of the design. The general public consensus of the new look seems to be positive, and Hartlaub makes clear that his comparison is meant in an endearing way. The Shire is beautiful, arguably a utopia depending what kind of terrain you’re into, so resembling it would not be a problem. After all, our precious team’s current facility is nicknamed after a place where you store dead people (The Mausoleum), so a rural garden fantasyland is definitely a step up.
I like how they’ve included these hobbit casinos too because fighting the evil hordes of Mordor was stressful and who wouldn’t want to unwind at a Pai Gow poker table? pic.twitter.com/YY0drZQT3C— Peter Hartlaub (@peterhartlaub) November 29, 2018
The responses from the Twittersphere have been 80-grade. There are multiple ideas for how to celebrate a home run, which I propose be renamed to a There And Back Again.
Balrog in the outfield for a home run pic.twitter.com/2mm5L9FXDr— craig lauderdale (@bayrocket) November 29, 2018
Some personnel suggestions for filling out the Fellowship of the Lineup.
Pretty much requires us to sign Altuve to play there.— Nick Alpers (@NickAlpers) November 29, 2018
Ents in the outfield.— Ando Calrissian (@aberlind) November 29, 2018
Could you imagine how much ground he would cover in center field?— Peter Hartlaub (@peterhartlaub) November 29, 2018
Also some strategy tips. Of course, in baseball the object is to win a ring, whereas in LOTR they want to destroy one.
New A's third-base coach steal signal: "Run, you fools!"— Chris Labarthe (@chris_labarthe) November 29, 2018
And some top-notch LOTR wordplay. Among the voracious snackers of Hobbiton, like in Oakland baseball, a bunt is a misspelled cake and not a method for moving runners.
"Shire" pretty close to "Shibe" Park which it's said to reflect in its design.— marc schoenfeld (@mschoenf) November 29, 2018
I vote we petition the bart station to be renamed Hobbit Terminal. #HobbitTerminal— Joshua Park (@joshuapark) November 29, 2018
REPLACE MOUNT DAVIS WITH MOUNT DOOM!— Emerson Hoff (@ralphwaldo123) November 29, 2018
Andrew Baggarly @extrabaggins is still available— Sean O'Shea (@EastBayBias) November 29, 2018
Some folks had fun with famous quotes. The last one hurts to laugh at, but dang, nailed it.
“People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." - Samwise Gamgee #TheShire— Patrick Connor (@pcon34) November 29, 2018
“It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.”https://t.co/zC5zTJyDLX— Chris Labarthe (@chris_labarthe) November 29, 2018
You! Shall not! Pass! The first round of the playoffs!— Fleshlight Golem (@shinyfailure) November 29, 2018
And finally, an uncanny coincidence, the kind of little marvel that makes life entertaining. On Halloween last month, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco lit up the LED art display on its crown to look like the Eye of Sauron, staring down from the sky. Considering that S.F. is basically Mordor to underdog A’s fans, as the vast, ominously gloomy city that’s home to the evil, powerful Giants, the analogy is perfect. Theoretically, folks standing in the rooftop park could be able to see the tower across the bay, really driving home the whole LOTR atmosphere.
This has never made more sense than it does now. SF IS MORDOR!!! pic.twitter.com/3fyg9OEGEa— Born in Hero-Town (@RichardHaick) November 30, 2018
The fans on the roof deck behind home olate will have a great view of the Eye of Sauron—er, Salesforce Tower—on clear nights.— v. festive holiday name (@dtnick) November 29, 2018
Now all we need is for Matt Chapman to step up and take his place as the king of the realm of baseball. Hopefully he doesn’t need to spend time as a Ranger first on his journey to that throne.