– Bull Durham
I went to a Nationals’ game a couple of weeks ago with my cousins (one who lives here and the other who was in town on business) and my cousin’s wife. And even though they’re both (the cousins) Mets fans (the Nats’ opponent for the evening), it was a pleasure to see them and spend time catching up.
You know what wasn’t a pleasure? Nationals’ Park. Not the park itself, the park is a great place to go and watch baseball: great sightlines, not a bad view and, hell, it’s a baseball game. Who doesn’t like going out to the ballpark and watching a game? Commies, that’s who. OK, maybe not commies, but you get my point.
My question is this: Why do the people who own the Nats and the people who run Nats’ Park hate baseball so much? What has it ever done to them except make them a bunch of money with an inferior product?
Maybe I’m just old school, but a baseball game is supposed to be relaxing. The game is already entertaining; it doesn’t need anything else. It’s the friggin’ American pastime. You know: “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.” (OK, maybe that was an ad from the 80s, but the point still stands.) You don’t need to blast (mostly bad) music through the PA system for each batter. And you especially don’t need to blast three bars of the same music between each and every fucking pitch.
Baseball, even when played badly, which is something the Nats have perfected over the past few years, can still be beautiful to watch. Somewhere in amongst all the pitches and balls and strikes, there’s a Crack! of a bat, the cheers of the crowd, a diving catch up the middle by the shortstop, and turning two with a 6-4-3 double play. Or, if you’re lucky, the CRACK! of a bat and a moonshot of a home run.
Then the idiots in the PA booth at Nats’ Park (and most other parks around the country for that matter) go and ruin a good thing with some stupid music.
As much as I like the movie, I blame “Major League” for this situation. Blasting “Wild Thing” as Charlie Sheen walks from the bullpen to the mound was cute. But, unfortunately, it has inspired legions of wannabes.
I’m thinking the constant blasting of music and the many, many other annoyances that now call Nats’ park and other professional stadiums home are like the headsets smart people are forced to wear in "Harrison Bergeron." For those who haven’t read their Vonnegut, in the story everyone is equal under the law and made equal by the government. This is done either by the addition of weights to lessen physical advantages like strength, or headphones blasting noise to break their concentration so the intelligent can’t hold a thought for any length of time, or some combination of methods.
The blasting music and other annoyances, I believe, are there to distract us from the crappy product the Nats put on the field day after day after day after day. If you can’t pay attention to the game, you don’t notice how much they stink up the joint.
Baseball didn’t need anything more than an occasional “Da, da, dant! Da, da, dant!” from an organ for a century and it doesn’t need it now. Turn off the music and let fans learn to enjoy the rhythm of the game again.
Oh, and play more day games. D.C. needs to loosen up and learn to play hooky like the North Side of Chicago. Nothing quite like a “long lunch” on a Thursday.
Photo credit: My friend MB, who lives in Dallas, sent me the second picture above from the first baseline of Saturday's Boston Red Sox at Texas Ranger game. The Rangers won 7-2.