One of the more enjoyable parts of this season for me came during a Friday night Red Sox-Yankees game when the Yankee Stadium PA system malfunctioned for about two innings. Unfortunately, it was fixed.Cafardo says he is not suggesting eliminating all the distractions. I say: Why the hell not? If you're watching a game at home and your neighbour is making a huge racket right outside your window, you don't accept that as part of your baseball experience. Why is the crap shown on the Jumbotron any different? In his previous sentence, Cafardo described those non-baseball things as "attacking your sensibilities". Who wants to be attacked?
No more blaring music or dancing mascots. It was pure baseball, just like the old days, when all you heard was the occasional organ music in the background.
We all understand the "presentation" that very talented and creative people put together for a ballgame, but couldn't those same talented and creative people incorporate a two-inning silent time during the course of the game, when baseball is the most important thing taking place in the ballpark?
At the Yankee game, the crowd got louder, and the players actually could hear the fans.
"I thought it was pretty cool, actually," Adrian Gonzalez said that night. "It was different."
It was not only "different," it was great. There was nothing attacking your sensibilities. I'm not saying eliminate all the distractions, but have some quiet time.
They tried this at Fenway last night. The Sox, in celebration of their first meeting with the Cubs in 93 years, were trying to re-create a 1918 atmosphere, with no amplified sound and no video. A man with a megaphone announced batters for two innings, and the teams were decked out in uniforms of the era.
To the Red Sox' credit, they were going to measure the fan response and gauge whether they could incorporate more silence into future games.
Baseball is a cerebral game. It doesn't need shenanigans all of the time. Give the electronics a rest. Let the game take over, so people actually can concentrate on it rather than wonder what silly song is about to play when Jonathan Papelbon comes into the game. ... [W]hy not shut off the audio for a bit and allow fans to be fans and let the players actually hear them?
Longtime baseball and NBA executive Stan Kasten said that, based on surveys and research, silence is not what fans want.
"I think the line always has to be drawn, and I admit you walk into some places and it's too much," said Kasten, "but I must say, I think for the most part baseball gets it right. I think it adds to the customer experience and I think the customer wants the entertainment between innings to complete their experience and make their experience more enjoyable. ... The people we have talked to over the years want more of it, not less of it. ... [W]e need to appeal to a broad base of people and younger people are a very important demographic."
Important, but do they buy the tickets? Aren't the tickets bought by an older demographic who bring the younger demographic to the games? Don't those people just come to watch David Ortiz hit a home run or Dustin Pedroia lay down a bunt? Do they come to watch scenes from "Animal House" on the Jumbotron? ...
Sox CEO Larry Lucchino isn't against limited quiet time.
"I do think we have to manage sensory overload," Lucchino said. "There's a danger in doing too much and detracting from the game. We worry about that." ...
I'm just asking for what we experienced that night at Yankee Stadium and last night at Fenway. Let the game stand on its own. It was so refreshing.
"Novelty is always good," Kasten said.
It's amazing that in this era, just watching baseball without the show is a novelty.
I disagree with Cafardo that baseball has done a good job of balancing things. Baseball has utterly failed and continues to fail every single day. Camden Yards is a beautiful park, but I've truly enjoyed myself there because of the incessant noise. One reason Laura and I stopped going to the old Yankee Stadium was because we were unable to have a normal conversation between innings - and we were sitting shoulder to shoulder! It was oppressive. Pointless noise is the biggest reason why I have no desire to see the Red Sox at Skydome. For me, getting through a game amid the music and commercials has become a battle.
It saddens me greatly to know that Fenway Park has been headed in that same direction. (Even batting practice, and its wonderful, lazy sounds that echo around the park, has been ruined at Fenway.) I wish the Red Sox owners would understand that the game on the field is the sole reason why people pay big money for tickets. No one is paying $100+ to subject himself to four-second blasts of canned pop music or to be forced to watch loud unmutable commercials for four hours. The fact that people are willing to sit through all that shit is a sign of their deep love of the game.
If this ownership group actually wants to know how fans feel, that's great. We should not hesitant to call - 617-226-6000 - and tell them. I would be thrilled if the Red Sox took the lead in saying No to Noise, and stating proudly that the glorious game of baseball CAN stand on its own, and Red Sox fans do not need movie clips or dot races or instructions on when to cheer or anything else.
Give us the game - and only the game - and allow us to watch in peace, and cheer and hear each other and enjoy the community of the ballpark.