One of the most endearing things about minor-league baseball has nothing to do with what happens on the field.
The side-show atmosphere at places like Eastwood Field adds to the game's charm at the small-town level.
It's the everyday fans, from the regulars calling pitches from behind home plate to the Annie Savoy-types milling around, waiting for the next Nuke LaLoosh.
It's the interactive antics between innings that give fans a chance to become part of the show.
It's the irreverent themes, such as Salute to the Mullet Night, One-Hit Wonders Night and Traficant Release Night.
Of course, baseball is a game that cuts across most boundaries like no other, but the promotions make spending three hours at a minor-league park a unique experience. It's a slice of Americana you can't get anywhere else.
And if some people get their way, you won't get it at Eastwood Field anymore, either.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, reacting swiftly to appease a group we call PLASH (People Lacking a Sense of Humor), pulled the plug on the above-mentioned Traficant Release Night. The promotion had been scheduled on Sept. 2, to coincide with the release from prison of former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant.
As the date neared, Traficant haters began flooding the Scrappers with complaints and the controversy began to get play in the media outside the area.
By the middle of last week, the Scrappers were backpedaling on Traficant Release Night faster than Lance Armstrong ever rode in the Tour de France. Finally, on Thursday, the team announced it had decided to bag the idea completely.
"Unfortunately I feel that most people misunderstood the intention of the promotion," Scrappers general managed Dave Smith said. "The night was never planned as a celebration of his release, yet it's obvious that is how it is being perceived.
"It will surely be a topic of great debate in the coming months and we were planning to provide a public forum for both supporters and detractors to have their voices heard. In hindsight, there are likely better venues than a baseball game for the community to share their thoughts and feelings on Jim."
If you're scoring at home, mark that play "E-Scrappers."
The Scrappers had a chance to take a stand against Political Correctness and humorless killjoys, and they whiffed.
PC? Today's PB - Political Bullying - makes us long for those early PC days of the early 1990s. Now, if you don't share the outrage or single-minded beliefs of a particular group, they'll just try to bully or embarrass you into submission.
How dare the Scrappers host an irreverent promotional night? How dare the Scrappers try to draw a crowd and make a buck by shamelessly promoting a convicted felon?
The Scrappers must be stopped.
Consider it done. Traficant Release Night has been replaced by Valley Pride Night.
Way to keep it innocuous, Scrappers. Better to do that than to risk the self-righteous indignation of a group of people who probably won't show up at Eastwood Field that night anyway.