Sadly missing their big guns at the plate, the Phils are at least entertaining fans this season with some power in the beer stands. For the first time, Citizens Bank Park is selling 24-ounce aluminum "Tall Boy" cans of Bud, Miller Lite, Yuengling and other brands for 11 bucks a pop.

And "pop" is the operative word under the stadium's so-called "crack and go" policy. The cans are popped open before they're handed to fans, to lessen the chances of someone launching a sealed, 1?1/2-pound can onto the field.

While the ballpark has previously sold (uncapped) aluminum and plastic bottles, this is the first season it's vended beer in cans, according to Rich McFate, warehouse director for Aramark, the Phillies concessionaire.

Besides the Tall Boys (named after the original 24-ounce cans introduced by Schlitz back in the 1950s), beer-drinking fans can enjoy 12- and 16-ounce cans this season, too.

"I just like the idea of handing the can directly to the patron," McFate said. "It's greener, because we don't have to pour it into a cup. It takes up much less space than a bottle in our warehouse. They chill more quickly, and it's a quicker way to sell beer."

While the ballpark has sold plastic and aluminum beer bottles for several years now with no serious mishaps, no one forgets that this can be an overly aggressive sports-crazed town. Greeting opposing players with a projectile is not completely unknown.

With that in mind, McFate climbed up to the ballpark's upper deck not long ago to see how far he could throw a beer can.

"We did tests," he told me, "and we discovered that plastic bottles actually fly further than aluminum cans."

On Opening Day, the fans I saw with Tall Boys mainly seemed in awe at the size of the cans.

"Damn, this is a big can," said Marc Saggio, 43, of Stratford, N.J., a freshly popped Coors Light in his paw.

Can Phils fans be trusted not to hurl them?

"I think our fans have totally changed since we moved to this ballpark," Saggio replied. "I think the [high] price of tickets kind of dictates the type of fan who comes here."

Nearby, two thirty-something women cheerfully gripped a pair of Miller Lite Tall Boys while mocking their friend, who ordered a single, wimpy 12-ounce bottle of Mike's Hard Raspberry Lemonade.

"Make sure you write that Mike Parsons — a guy — ordered the 'girl' beer," Christine Titus, of Chalfont, Montgomery County, told me. "The two of us went for the 24-ounce pounders."

So why'd you order such a big beer, I asked her friend, Sharon Reilly, of Conshohocken.

"Why? Because we went to Penn State, that's why!"

"Joe Sixpack" is a weekly column in the Philadelphia Daily News by Don Russell, director of Philly Beer Week. For more on the beer scene, sign up for his weekly email update at www.joesixpack.net. E-mail: joesixpack@phillynews.com