06.29.10

Nachman : Take Me Out To The (Insanely Loud, Annoying) Ballgame

Posted in Baseball at 6:26 pm by

“Today™s crowd, raised on the hysteria of rock concerts and crazed TV show jump-cuts and hype,” opines The Columnists.com’s Gerald Nachman (above), “don™t seem to notice how the surrounding racket at otherwise handsome and tasteful modern ball parks has done everything it can to ruin the classic human dimensions of the game by drowning it out in gimmickry and superfluous noise.” So there’s one thumbs-down for the educational credibility of Reyes University, then, as Nachman recounts a grueling evening at SF’s AT&T Park spent trying to concentrate on the Giants and Rockies (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

The noise between innings–and between batters–was excruciating, the music and visual hype cranked up to hysterical levels as the scoreboard exhorted fans throughout the game to ˜MAKE MORE NOISE!!! A robot organist tried with pathetic insistence to energize the crowd. Meanwhile, the Jumbotron flashed so much endless and useless information on the confusing scoreboard (like watching a TV game at home on a screen littered with arcane stats) that it all but obscured the modest game below. It was hard to locate the one thing you wanted to keep track of–the balls, strikes, outs and who was at bat.

The fans obliged unconvincingly, having by now been trained like Pavlovian dogs to howl when a bell clangs, but the maniacal order to MAKE MORE NOISE!!! went largely unheeded; even the most exuberant fans have by now pretty much learned to ignore the incessantly raucous sound battering.

The female public address announcer shrieked the name of every man who came to bat as if was the ninth game of the World Series and everything was on the line: œNow batting¦Juan Urrrrrr-eeeee-bay!!! All that bush league screeching for the hometown nine has worn everyone down–yet it goes on mindlessly. As someone said, America is a Big Event country, in which everything is built into a monumental moment–chili cook-offs on TV food shows, models in runway match-ups, brides choosing their wedding gown. Any routine human endeavor has become a heavyweight championship fight on TV. But it has now spread to all parts of the culture off TV, even this quietest of sports–outside of tennis and golf, which somehow have resisted the marketing of excitement.

Nachman seems glum that today’s ballgame experience differs radically from afternoons spent with his dad watching the Oakland Oaks, and while I’m tempted to dismiss his criticism as the ramblings of an old crank, he’s not entirely full of shit. If you’re actually interested in baseball rather than excessive displays of public douchebaggery, a major league ballpark isn’t necessarily the most welcome environment.

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