Since baseball season has only a few weeks left, I’ve got to hurry to get in a couple of final gripes on America’s favorite pastime. In past columns I’ve zeroed in on the players. I’ve done my share of whining about how ugly baseball players look these days (tattooed all over, unshaven, sloppy, and dirty). How Alex Rodriguez was able to skate past any real punishment for taking performance enhancing drugs and allowed to continue to play and collect his millions. But now it’s time to stop picking on the players and start in on the fans.
While watching a game the other evening it dawned on me how people who attend ballgames look so differently from people who attend other events. Think about it. Baseball fans come to the games dressed in copycat clothing of the ballplayers. They wear baseball caps, team jerseys, T-shirts, warm-up shirts, and other articles of clothing of their home teams and favorite players. Some bring their baseball gloves. All this in an attempt to look as much as they can like the men on the field that they have come to watch.
Can you imagine if audiences did the same thing at other events? It would be like people coming to the theater dressed up as the actors on stage in full make-up and costume. Or like dressing as a Ballet dancer in leotards, tutus, and ballet slippers when attending a ballet performance. Or going to a prize fight dressed like a prizefighter in boxing shorts and gloves and wearing a silk robe.
And since I’m on the subject, why do baseball fans come to a game if they don’t want to watch it? People in the stands busy themselves with all sorts of diversions while the game is being played. Why would anyone want to spend the money to attend an event and then do everything they can to not watch it? AND disturb other people who DO want to watch it.
Some people never stop talking, and I don’t mean talking about the game, they’re talking about anything BUT the game. It’s all about their shopping adventure at the mall, or their problems at work, or their boyfriends, or you name it. And if they’re not talking to the person who’s with them, they’re talking to someone on their cell phone. After they’ve talked it all out, they stand up in front of you and start with the taking pictures routine.
They take pictures of the people they are with, they take pictures of their food, they take pictures of themselves, and they take pictures of the mountains and the sky and the birds and the spilled coke on the ground. What a lovely day at the old’ ballgame! Meanwhile Gonzales is at bat with a 3 and 2 count and the plate is blocked by some airhead in front of me taking a “selfie.”
But there’s nothing more distracting than beach balls bouncing all over the stands at the ball park. The idiot who first blows the thing up should definitely be thrown out of the park, but so should every other idiot who keeps the damn thing going by punching it over to someone else. People who want to play with beach balls should go to the beach. Whenever it comes to me, and it has on a couple of occasions, I hold on to it and puncture it with a pen, putting it out of its lousy misery. Then I smile, sit back, and try to enjoy the game once again.
Let us not forget that other great baseball stadium tradition, “the wave.” Yes, the wonderful, wonderful wave which gives all the folks who are bored with the baseball game an outlet for their pent-up energy. The wave also has the secondary bonus of annoying the people around them who would actually like to watch the action of the two teams on the field. Hey, anything for a distraction, right?
Again, people don’t bounce beach balls around in movie theaters, they don’t do the wave at symphony concerts. Why at ball games? Maybe it’s because Major League Baseball encourages this behavior to a great degree. Strobe lights encircle the stands with awful distracting flashing, while all kinds of noise is blasted through the loudspeakers. Enormous video screens actually instruct the fans to MAKE SOME NOISE!! Roving cameras encourage people to kiss, to dance, to jump up and down, be loud, be obnoxious, be a distraction.
It is a shame really, because baseball is the most cerebral of all the popular sports. It isn’t just a bunch of guys running around back and forth hitting each other, there’s method, strategy, and story-telling going on in that field along with the athletic part of it. Unlike other team sports, each man gets his individual moment in the spotlight, his chance to do something spectacular in every game.
Some of us actually like paying attention to a baseball game. Some of us enjoy following the story on the field. And that’s why some of us will ALWAYS puncture that beach ball if it comes our way.