Baseball On My Brain


Is the backlash coming?
April 9, 2008, 12:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I just finished reading the Savvy Girls’ new book, It Takes More Than Balls (find my review here) and as my brain started doing its thing, I wondered if there isn’t a backlash from the “hardcore” baseball fans coming.

When you stop and think about it – are we that much better off because of Stitch & Pitch night, Girls’ Night Out, the never ending stream of bobbleheads, blankets, and other such schwag?

I would say we’re not.

Now look – I get it. More people in the stands = more money coming into the ballpark = more revenue for the team, which hopefully = more competitive teams but definitely = more profits for the owners. I’m no dummy — I see how it works.

There’s also the argument that if you can give the spouse, family members and friends of the avid fan to come to the game, you’ll give the avid fan more reasons to come as well. Point well taken.

But what about the serious fan — the “heavy user” as the fast food industry refers to their best customers. Is baseball running the risk of driving away the fan who goes to dozens of games a year, has season tickets, buys a good amount of merchandise every season, reads the newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, watches on TV and listens on the radio and now has an internet and/or satellite/cable subscription? When do those folks just say enough is enough, get the sign holders and singles nights out of the ballpark and let us watch our baseball in peace?

Since I can only speak for myself – I will.

I’ve been to ballgames with crowds of 30, 300, 3,000 and 30,000. I don’t care about the size of the crowd — that matters less to me than who’s there and why they showed up.

I’ve been to sellouts with only 10,000 people in a 45,000 seat stadium, all because a team was giving away a Beanie Baby. I still hate those things by the way, even though I have a few. But they’ll go down in toy history, for better or worse.

I went to a game last year where the guy sitting in front of me spent at least $20 to make a sign asking one of the broadcasters for “rally fries” which cost about $4.50 at the concession stand, but came with 20 seconds of local TV time. He’d proceed to hold his signs up like clockwork every half inning, hoping to get himself and his kids on TV. Needless to say when I asked the guy to put his sign down so I could see the field, he got all pissy as if I was ruining his night. God forbid you don’t get your fries and all that hard work with the markers and poster board goes all for not.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to bring back smoking at games or have a whole bunch of drunk and angry guys screaming at the players. That’s not the kind of of environment I want to see baseball become. But I’ll be honest, I could sure live without some of the peripheral junk that has become part of the baseball landscape, all in the name of bringing some extra folks to the park. For those of you who really appreciate baseball — the intricacies of the game, watching and understanding why a team won or lost, seeing the story of the season unfold — wouldn’t it be a blast to do it without dancing groundskeepers or hot dog tosses?

I won’t lie and say that the watching middle-aged lawn mowers and dirt sweepers get down to YMCA isn’t mildly entertaining. But would I stop going if they stopped dancing? Nope.

Would I stop going if I never got another bobblehead? Or if they didn’t play music when the batter came to the plate? Nope – I’d still be there, scorecard in hand and eyes and ears wide open.

I’m not there to get a massage, ride the carousel, or figure out what hat the ball is under. I’m there to watch baseball being played at it’s highest level, and God forbid anything get in the way of that.

Am I alone on this one? In your baseball heart of hearts – would you want to see the non-baseball stuff stripped down so that we could get back to the roots of the game? And if so – what do you think we need to do to make it happen? I certainly don’t want to stop going to games – so how do we make our opinions felt? Maybe I’m old-school, maybe I’m crazy — but I know I’m not alone.

Are you with me? Post your thoughts!

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