It’s bad enough watching a Giant/Dodger game in LA, with the sea of Johnny-come-lately blue shirts punctuated by welcome islands of orange. The blue tide builds up slowly until the bottom of the 2nd inning, when those orange islands are finally surrounded by blue. The tide starts receding at the bottom of the 7th and the orange islands once again have space between them. Don’t you wonder where those blue shirts GO? Sitting in the warm Southern California sun, watching a great ball game between two of the biggest sports rivals isn’t enough in LA. Apparently, Dodger fans have places to go and people to see, and they even stick to their 2nd inning / 7th inning schedule when they’re in San Francisco.
In addition to the ebbing tide of blue shirts, fans at Chavez Ravine have to contend with beach balls. In the most recent Giants-Dodgers series, inflatable chairs and thunder sticks also appeared. Inflatable chairs? Whose idea was that? The TV feed doesn’t show inflatable items that land on the field in order to thwart copy-cats, but there were enough delays and comments from the broadcasters that you could tell what was happening. In LA, there seems to be a new beach ball every inning.
Personally, I’ve never understood this.
I see baseball as a micro game with lots of details, vs. a macro game like football. There, you have 22 big guys on the field trying to muscle the ball to the other end. It’s pretty simple. Strategy involves running or passing, maybe a quarterback sneak or reverse with the running backs, and a kick or pass for a conversion. It’s not too complicated. There’s time for fans to day-dream, hit the concession stands, and even do a wave or 2.
But baseball is different. At any given moment, a knowledgable fan thinks about how may outs there are, who’s on base, what the batter’s stats are vs. the current pitcher, whether this is a situation for the runner to steal, and what the batter may do next. Also, a fan considers how the defense is lined up, anticipates where the batter might place a ball to move the runners around, checks the pitcher’s ball-to-strike ratio, and notices who is on-deck. And that’s before a pitch is even thrown. During a 9 inning game, a minimum of 54 batters will come to the plate and this thought process repeats with each new batter.
With all that going on, when is there time to even consider hitting a beach ball around? You’d have to take your attention away from the details of the game in order to stay safe. Plastic balls flying in all directions are dangerous, and fans have to watch out for the kid a few rows back who may slam the ball into your head, or worse, knock over your beer and hot dog, dousing everyone around with alcohol and mustard. You pay good money to watch what’s happening on the diamond, and hitting a beach ball just doesn’t provide value for money.
I don’t even want to think about what genius came up with the inflatable chair idea . . . can you imagine being hit by one of those? If it hit you right, you could suffocate from the toxic plastic odor that comes off of those things.
A few words about the wave: DON’T DO IT! Knowing that baseball is a micro game means that there is no place for a wave at a game. Once the first section of wavers starts, all focus turns from the field to the people standing, screaming and waving arms uncontrollably. Loud cheers erupt with no relation to what’s happening on the field. I’ve seen players hear the cheers and look into the stands as if to say, “What am I missing here?” The answer is: ‘Nothing!”
The wave was created by Crazy George Henderson, a professional cheerleader in the Bay Area, on October 15, 1981. You can look it up. Unfortunately, the first recorded instance was at an A’s/Yankee game in Oakland, and the A’s persist in doing this still. But at AT&T, the wave rarely makes it around the stadium more than once. Season ticket holders, of which there are many, tend to ignore it or yell it down. I used to watch Crazy George lead the wave at soccer and football games in the 80′s, both macro kinds of games that have room for a distraction like this.
But there is no place for the wave — or beach balls, inflatable chairs, and thunder sticks — in baseball. Unless, of course, you’re a Dodger fan and are getting ready to leave soon to beat the traffic.
DISCLAIMER: Beach ball photos were staged and NOT taken at a game.