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Baseball parks and the sound of silence

May 23, 2011, 11:03 AM EDT

Old Fenway

Nick Carfado writes in the Globe about how the Red Sox turned off the sound system for a couple of innings during their throwback game with the Cubs, killing the music and the PA and the big flashing video board.  Carfado likes it. And to be honest, I think I’d like it too.

But he also interviews former Braves and Nationals and current MLB executive Stan Kasten who explains that surveys show that fans want electrified entertainment at the ballpark and that the opinion of the hard core fans and writers like Carfado and me don’t exactly represent the mainstream sentiment.

I guess I’ll buy that. And I guess that, given how much money teams have spent on big sound systems and video boards over the past few years, it’s a pretty moot point.  They’re weapons with one purpose, and it’s not to sit in silent darkness.

(thanks to Moose in Ohio for the link)

  1. Brian Murphy - May 23, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    The Dodgers don’t play any walk-up music and let just the sounds of organ music entertain the people during their Brooklyn throwback matinee games this year. I like it. I guess I am also not mainstream.

    • jimbo1949 - May 23, 2011 at 2:48 PM

      I watched one of those games and what I remembered was Scully commenting on the 40s music being played between innings. Waxing nostalgic over songs from his youth.

  2. NCStuff - May 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    I believe the Platoon Advantage had a good post about this not long ago. And I can add to that that the other night my girlfriend and I went to a Greensboro Grasshoppers game, and while I was engrossed with watching the visiting Bryce Harper, she was thrilled with all the business happening between innings and so forth. As a non-sports fan, she had a wonderful time, and we’ll probably go to more games.

  3. APBA Guy - May 23, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    I do think there’s a difference between the likes and dislikes of serious baseball fans and more casual fans. And there are a lot more casual fans than serious ones. How else to explain the deafening noise in between innings at the Tampa Echo Chamber.

    • kellyb9 - May 23, 2011 at 12:55 PM

      I’m not sure it’s really a hardcore vs. casual fan issue. I’m sure there’s a ton of baseball purists that didn’t mind when they put in expensive PA systems. It’s an interesting novelty for an old timey game that hasn’t happened since the early 1900’s, but if they could’ve had a pa system then, they probably would have.

  4. halladaysbicepts - May 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    The music at the ballpark does not really bother me too much. It’s usually in brief spurts, so it’s not too bad.

    What really bothers me with Citizens Bank Park in Philly is the new monstrosity of a big screen TV that they installed at a cool 10 million dollars in the offseason in left field. I’ve been to a couple of games this year and sat along the first base line. That big screen is very distracting because it’s so friggin big.

  5. Jonny 5 - May 23, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Silence? Really? I always pictured these old games having announcers who sound like they work horse races on the side.

    • tomemos - May 23, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      Without a PA system? What, would they yell through one of those old-timey loudspeaker cones?

      • Jonny 5 - May 23, 2011 at 2:00 PM

        Well that… Or wait until like 1908. when PA systems were first used.

      • jimbo1949 - May 23, 2011 at 2:56 PM

        I recall watching old baseball movies from the 30s like “Alibi Ike”. The announcers used megaphones, really big ones. Probably didn’t hear much in the outfield upper deck, depended more on uniform numbers and programs.

  6. Tim's Neighbor - May 23, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    The #1 target audience for baseball teams is “entertainment seekers.” Baseball fans are going to go to the games no matter what. All of this noise and sparkles entertains those who aren’t necessarily entertained by the game itself. That’s why you’re seeing more post-game concerts, big screens, fireworks, etc. And with attendance up, I can’t say it’s not working. It’s pretty obvious that it does.

    And before I get ripped, I could care less personally about all of the extras. I don’t need it, but it doesn’t bother me when I’m at the games.

  7. sdelmonte - May 23, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    What bothers me is the stuff between innings that is meant to make sure we don’t have one second to think about the game. Interestingly, the between-innings noise at Citi Field tends to be more highlights and scoreboard stuff, while on my one trip to New Yankee, it was ads and self-promotion and fake races.

  8. royhobbs39 - May 23, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    How about if during throwback days, the teams not only used retro uniforms but also used throwback prices? Doesn’t have to be on tickets, but maybe concessions. I think that is something everybody can get behind. Might even sell more tickets in a few of the struggling ball parks.

    • oldnumero7 - May 23, 2011 at 12:43 PM

      If we’re going to go full retro/throwback, I’m going to have to insist that fans dress in suits, dresses and hats instead of team gear.

      • sdelmonte - May 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

        And managers, too. Issue them Connie Mack suits and hats.

      • jimbo1949 - May 23, 2011 at 3:01 PM

        Hmmm, Phil Jackson in shorts and a wife beater or Belichik in pads and a helmet. Yet in baseball the manager must wear the same uniform as the players.

  9. 24may98 - May 23, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    The “oppression of ballpark cacophony” ; ) . . . . is my curmudgeon peeve. As we all know one of the most vital pleasures of baseball is talking and musing about the game between innings – about what just happened in the previous half inning and and what’s likely to happen in the next, and relishing the performances at bat, in the field and on the mound. Sharing and reliving the game. It has become impossible to converse with the person next to one without raising one’s voice at a ball game – and nearly shouting at someone one seat away. Indeed, it is a good way to get to know those around you as such conversations happen. But, not any longer. Indeed, most only know the forced “fun” of the “game experience”, which is produced by the belief that to other than the devoted fan – “baseball is boring” – and refuse to see that boring is most of life, and one most invest oneself into making it other than.

    I have this hypotheses that the cacophony is an orchestrated form of crowd control, int that it restrains untoward fan interactions from occurring in this era of unrestrained public behavior. (And, of course, it protects “the children.” )

    So, I no longer attend games for this reason, except for a few times that remind me not to attend. Instead, each season I go to “baseball heaven” (for me) – the Arizona Fall League – for a couple of weeks of two games a day. Check it out it’s still and undiscovered “destination” where you can see some of “tomorrow’s stars today” – and have to avoid the plentiful foul balls.

    • bigdicktater - May 23, 2011 at 6:46 PM

      You’re absolutely right in using “cacaphony” to describe the modern ballpark “experience”.
      One of my fondest memories is of my dad taking me to a ballgame 55 years ago, when I was 5 years old, with a bunch of steelworkers, their sleeves rolled up, smoking cigars, drinking beer and having lots of fun!
      About 6 years ago, we attended a game at Miller Park in Milwaukee and we sat alone in a handicapped section because Dad needed a chair at that point. After one inning I noticed Dad had balled up a napkin and put it in his ears because of the volume and bs from a speaker over our heads. A passing usher was unable to lower the volume, so I stood on a chair and yanked the wire out and we enjoyed the rest of that game just as much as the first one we attended together.

  10. fengypants - May 24, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    This is a coupla years old now, but it’s still an entertaining read — please, a little less “BAMARAMARAMARAMARAMARAMA” at baseball games:

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