THE NO-HIT pool starts Opening Night. You put up a buck, write your name on a ticket stub. Roy Halladay pitches a no-no that night, the rightfield ballgirl draws a name out of the basket and shazam, you win 60 percent of the pool, maybe $3,000.
The Phillies keep the other 40 percent and the revenue stream gurgles just a little, justifying the costs of the best starting rotation in baseball.
Yo, we kept hearing that the Phillies couldn't get involved in pursuit of high-priced free agents because they had already "maximized their revenue streams." Which is another way of saying you're selling out the ballpark 150 consecutive nights and the architects can't find a way to add more seats and you don't want to boost ticket prices out of the range of your loyal, passionate fan base, what's left?
In the holiday spirit, in the euphoria surrounding the return of Cliff Lee, the Daily News offers 20 moneymakers the Phillies might want to explore, starting with the no-hitter pool.
The pool is progressive. Let's say 3,000 fans play it those first 10 home games in April. That's $30,000 in the pot. By the Fourth of July, there's $120,000 up for grabs and 4,500 fans will take their shot nightly. By September 5,000 eager fans get involved each night.
Sure, the ballpark is cozy, hitter-friendly, but Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have overpowering stuff. And if the glorious season unfolds without a no-hitter, then one name is drawn from all the stubs at the final home game. Winner might collect $180,000 and the Phillies get to keep $120,000.
How about a real Dollar Dog night? Fan looking for a pedigreed puppy puts up a buck. Let's say 2,500 folks play each night. Kennel provides the pup for $1,000 and the publicity. Phillies keep the rest. That's $1,500 times 81, that's $121,5000.
You'd love to throw out the first pitch, how about a nightly auction? Highest bidder gets the honor. Brings in another $120,000.
Dollar a dance? Winner gets to cha-cha with the Phanatic atop the home dugout in the sixth inning. Worth maybe $60,000.
Lineup sign-up? Highest bidder gets to lug the lineup card to home plate. Your name and business up in lights on the Jumbotron and Dan Baker calling your name. Another $80,000.
Own the lineup card. Highest bidder gets to take home the lineup card that night. Suppose, just suppose Halladay uncorks another perfect game, the lineup card is yours to keep or sell. Should bring in $80,000.
Shirtless in South Philly. Put up a buck, sign a stub. Bottom of the eighth, one name is drawn and the lucky fan gets a game-worn jersey from a player. Nights involving Utley, Howard, Rollins will skyrocket this one. Could produce $100,000 over the season.
How do you like it so far? How about a spinoff on the ever-popular Daily News Home Run Payoff? Buck a play, you pick the player. Designated inning arrives, lucky names go up on the scoreboard. Your guy hits a homer, you win $1,000. Your guy hits a grand slam, you win $10,000. Bank on $80,000.
Anthem ante. You've got the pipes and show-biz dreams, you bid for the chance to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Audition required. Second highest bidder gets to warble "God Bless America" in the seventh inning. Third runner-up does "High Hopes" after a win. Could bring in $80,000.
License plate lottery. You hand the parking attendant an extra buck when you arrive. He jots down your license plate. They draw one number in the fifth inning and you split the pot 60-40 with the Phillies. Worth another $40,000.
You have this inexplicable desire to sit in on a Charlie Manuel postgame news conference? Buck a chance. Want to ask a question, that's another $25. Might account for $20,000, maybe more.
There are other possibilities that don't involve lottery-type schemes. Bid on the chance to put your advertising logo on the bases for one night, on the foul pole, on the on-deck circle. Could produce another $100,000.
How about ads on the backs of seats? On the batboy uniforms? Or $5 beers during rain delays? Or the chance to own a game-worn hat from Gary Matthews? Or the chance to sit in the television booth for three innings? It's not that crowded, it just seems that way some nights.
There's $921,000, conservatively, in possible jackpots. Maybe it's time for the marketing folks to match Ruben Amaro's creativity and help pay for the best starting rotation in baseball, maybe in the whole history of baseball. *