Monday, May 23, 2011

The Sound of Silence

I had the great joy of attending Saturday’s game against the Cubs. I know. I sure can pick ‘em. So, I got to witness the meltdown in the cold with nobody warming up. I got to witness the goofy looking throwback uniforms. I still don’t know why you’d bother, even in 1918, to come up with a uniform that was just plain blank white. I also got to witness the 1918 sound. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that for the third and fourth innings, the Sox used the 1918 audio-visual system. Batters were announced by megaphone, the only scoreboard was on the Wall, and the only music was the organ. Some people liked the quiet. Some people complained about the silence. I hear, though, that the Red Sox were actually using the test to see if they should reduce the amount of noise at a regular game. So, just in case John Henry, Tom Werner, or Larry Lucchino are regular readers of this blog, I wanted to toss out my opinion. (And, if they are regular readers, a shout-out wouldn’t be inappropriate.)

I liked the quiet. Obviously, they can’t do what they did on Saturday on a permanent basis. There needs to be some noise. I need to be able to hear the line-up, or substitutions. Even in the bleachers. I also need to be able to see the score, count, and other important info. (Yes, I know, I can just look at my scorebook. But the running total is nice to have at a glance) During the silence, David Ortiz hit the 300th home run of his Red Sox career. It’s too bad that couldn’t have been put on the video board so he could have gotten the deserved ovation. I’d like to know if the official scorer thought something was a wild pitch, or defensive indifference. But, there only needs to be a minimal amount of noise or presentations other than that.

I’ve always been glad that the Sox never went the “sound effects” route. They don’t play a slide whistle, or glass breaking, or a clang when a ball is hit in the stands. Nobody bellows out “Give that fan a contract!” That stuff is just clutter. But, the Sox do play a lot of music. And, some of it can just go away.

They’ve started playing a lot of situational song clips during the game. They play songs like “Walk Like an Egyptian” after a Red Sox player draws a walk. Or, they’ll play “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” when the opposing team visits the mound. While the songs are cute or clever the first time, they just seem forced. There doesn’t need to be music there. It’s almost to the point where they cram in the stuff that needs to be done so they can show off the campy music. On Saturday, they didn’t even have enough time after a walk to let the song get to the “walk like an Egyptian” line. So, you had to know that it was getting there yourself. That’s just music for the sake of playing music.

The music after a homerun just seems weird too. If it’s an important home run, the fans will create enough noise. I didn’t even notice that there wasn’t music after Ortiz’s shot on Saturday. So, the music would be unnecessary. If it’s not an important home run? The fans still create plenty of noise. If they don’t, adding music just sounds pathetic. The Yankees play a bell or a gong after every run scores. (They still do that, right?) It’s all fine and good. But, when a run scores on a groundout to cut a deficit to six runs in the ninth, it just seems a little sad to make a big deal out of it. Plus, if you have to play a home run song, then announce a batter, then play an entrance song, it gets a little crazy. Background music is one thing. It’s almost gotten to be a chore.

I don’t mind entrance music for closers at all. It takes a while for them to trot in and warm up. It’s nice to have something to listen to, and it makes for a nice effect. I’ve always said I love the first few bars to Papelbon’s entrance. Much like the home run, it’s probably not needed. But, at least there’s enough time to actually get it in without cramming it.

I also don’t mind all the video and music between innings. I didn’t come to a game to talk to my friends about a party last weekend. I came to immerse myself in the Red Sox experience. So, videos of players on the farm, or legends are great. Trivia questions are fun. (Dot races are not) I don’t mind wedding proposals or birthday wishes. All those fees go to charity so how can that be bad? The video they’ve been showing depicting the making of “Fenway Green” paint is a little corny, but acceptable. They used to show a “rally video” when the Sox were trailing in the ninth. (I don’t remember seeing it this year) That was a fun way to pull for a comeback, without actually instructing fans when to clap. I can’t possibly have a problem with singing “Take Me out to the Ballgame.” Although, I’d really prefer they sing the verses as well. There’s plenty of time to belt out the whole song. Why shorten it? That’s a case where they’re cramming in too much. It’s not the music that’s the problem. It’s trying to fit in a whole music schedule.

That might actually put my feelings into a nice little nutshell. If you have time to play an entire song, the music is just fine. If it’s just samples here and there, it’s too busy and cluttered. So, between innings are pitching changes fine. The rest of it? Probably too much.

Is the ownership group listening?

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