Honey, I shrunk the ballpark (updated)

Update: According to a press release, the Orioles and Delaware North Companies Sportservice today announced a 12-year partnership in which the global hospitality management company will provide food, beverage and retail merchandise services at Camden Yards.

Sportservice will manage all concessions, catering, dining operations and retail stores and kiosks within the ballpark, including Eutaw St. The Orioles and Sportservice will collaborate on an $11 million project to redesign and enhance the food and beverage stands at the ballpark. New concessions-related technology will be added, including a point-of-sale system for faster transactions and new grills and other equipment so more food can be prepared fresh in front of fans.

Additional details on the ballpark enhancements and food options will be provided throughout the offseason.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog, already in progress...

If anyone out there still uses AOL, you probably know about yesterday's massive glitch (and I'm assuming something that big can still be categorized as such.)

E-mails took hours and hours to arrive, which created a lot of stress and confusion for me. I can only hope that the problem is solved, but I'm not confident. I woke up in the middle of the night and found another dozen that had been floating in cyber space, including one from the Orioles that detailed some changes to Camden Yards.

Only took about six hours to reach me. No worries.

The Maryland Stadium Authority is currently completing the final phase of the replacement of seats in the lower-level outfield, the club level and the upper deck.

The club level and upper deck will be furnished with wider seats, and newer railings are being installed that will improve sightlines.

Also, drink rails are being installed in portions of the club level seating bowl down the left field and right field lines, and you'll find bistro tables facing the field on the left field club level, which will create a "viewing deck".

(I hear the word "bistro" and still think of Jack Tripper from Three's Company, but I digress...)

These changes will lower capacity at the ballpark from 48,290 to 45,971, still more seats than you'll find at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia (43,651); Citi Field in New York (41,800); Nationals Park in Washington, DC (41,546); Petco Park in San Diego (42,691); and Minnesota's Target Field (39,504). And it's not like they've been packing the place lately.

Now, all that's left is putting a winning product on the field.

Heck, I'd settle for a full coaching staff.

Reports out of Philadelphia make it seem more likely that Juan Samuel will join the Phillies. The theory that floated past me a few days ago was legit.

The Orioles still need a bench coach and third base coach, and one member of the organization suggested yesterday that it could be another week or two before the staff is finalized. I'm also told that manager Buck Showalter is considering "two or three" people in the organization, as well as a handful of candidates outside of it.

Gary Allenson's chances of sticking around have improved immensely, and as I keep writing, it makes perfect sense because of his catching and coaching background, and his work at third base after replacing Samuel. He also had worked with about 15 players on the September roster while managing at Triple-A Norfolk.

Allenson caught for seven seasons with Boston and Toronto. He's been a catching coordinator in the minors. He's quite familiar with Matt Wieters. It's not hard to connect the dots.

I've heard Willie Randolph's name come up more than once over the last few days, and The Sun's Dan Connolly listed him as a top candidate last night. Again, it makes sense - if you can get past the whole New York thing - because he's coached third base, served as a bench coach and managed, and he could work with the infielders, since he was a pretty darn good one back in the day.

What exactly is Showalter looking for in a bench coach?

Glad you asked.

As it's been explained to me, some managers want a guy next to them who's plotting three innings ahead while they're busy focusing on every pitch. Other managers want the freedom to plan ahead while their right-hand man is closely monitoring the game and making sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Showalter prides himself on being able to do both. He's more interested in finding someone who, while capable of handing those tasks, can assist in game-planning and run various meetings. Not to mention taking over the team if he's ejected.

I would still expect the next bench coach to bring some experience to the table, but it's not quite as imperative in Baltimore.

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