We are a month or so into the 2020 Baseball season, and of course baseball looks different right now than it ever has before. There’s been a lot written over the past few months about innovations and experiments Major League Baseball should try since this season will by necessity be so un-traditional, and we have seen a number of rule changes (some of which may not continue into 2021) as a result.
However, so far the Powers That Be have merely scratched the surface of what can be done to inject some fun and excitement into the game so many of us love. So what else can be done? So glad you asked!
No High Fives, so….
The Red Sox outfield in 2017-2018 performed a varying 5-second choreographed celebration routine in the outfield at the end of each win, and some people didn’t love it. I did, and I think we need more of this. NFL guys practically put on a Broadway show every time they score a touchdown, record a sack, or frankly, tackle a guy after a 5 yard completion. The unwritten rules of baseball have, since time immemorial, prohibited most on-field celebrating (lest the next batter gets plunked with a fastball in the ribs), and in 2020, when a guy hits a walk-off home run, social distancing doesn’t even permit the customary (and incredibly fun and entertaining for the home crowd) home-plate pile on. But we need SOMETHING. Let’s face it, every player’s daughter over the age of 7 is doing tik-tok dances 6 hours a day. I’m pretty sure these guys can come up with something good. I’m not looking to re-create Singin’ in the Rain (or even La-La Land), but somebody give Charli D’Amelio a call already.
Home bleachers setup
The fans are of course gone, so we are left with cardboard cut-outs of people sitting in the seats. Can’t we get a little imaginative here? If my team is facing a tough pitcher, is it really too much to ask that they fill the first row behind the catcher with some faces that might distract the guy? How about a picture of Christie Brinkley circa 1984? I know I would find that distracting. Or the cast of Game of Thrones? How’d you like to try to paint the outside corner while Cersei Lannister is glaring at you? And since baseball is a slower-paced game with lots of time in-between pitches, why not give the fans at home a challenge? Have a row of seats behind first base with different celebrities and you could spend half the game trying to figure out the connection between them. Like, all of Adam Duritz’ former girlfriends or everyone Donald Trump has called a loser (that might take more than a couple rows). I mean, the possibilities are endless.
Pre-recorded fan insults
Let’s get creative here, people. Obviously, every team needs to pipe into their stadium the sounds of garbage-can banging for the Astros (Houston’s method for illegally stealing signs the last few years), as well as endless “Cheaters!” chants. When the Indians come to town, let’s hear some screams of “1948!,” which was the last time they won the World Series. For the Rangers, Mariners, Padres, Rockies, Rays and Brewers (all of which have never won a Fall Classic), hit ‘em with “Nineteen-Never!” Once at Fenway during a Mets-Red Sox game, I heard a guy calling Noah Syndegaard “Synde-Rella!” Now that’s just funny, especially since Noah/Thor has long blond hair. Even funnier was when the same guy disparaged Syndegaard for “eating his soup with a fahk!” That’s Bostonian for fork, by the way. If this one, fairly inebriated young man can come up with two gems like that in less than an hour, each team can surely come up with 10-20 barbs a game that will annoy the other side and make the home fans chuckle.
New-Age Stats Explanations
Look, thinking in baseball has evolved since the “old days,” which, if you’re my Dad, was the 1950’s, if you’re me, was the 1970’s, and if you’re a Millennial, was apparently some-time during the Obama administration. The rise of sabermetrics has forever changed the game in a myriad of ways, and while many fans have embraced this and found that the increased understanding of what makes a team win has enhanced and enriched our enjoyment of the sport, others have chosen to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that all critical thinking stopped once teams learned how to do a double-switch. I personally love the newer stats and silently groan to myself when someone tries to make a baseball argument using out-dated statistics like pitcher wins and RBI’s, but I know many fans roll their eyes when they hear about OPS+ and WARP. And most of this is because they don’t understand the new numbers. So let’s teach ‘em! Have someone with an upper-level knowledge of these stats and at least a modicum of communication skills sit in the announcers booth and every once in a while, throw in a relevant new-fangled statistic and explain WHY it improves the fans’ understanding of the game. If done right, older viewers might start to appreciate some of the brilliant work done by the top baseball minds of the last 20 years, and younger fans might find a whole new way of appreciating the sport. For a sport that has done a terrible job of growing its young fan base, that would help quite a bit.
Amazingly, there’s only 6 weeks or so left in the regular season, let’s get inspired and make this a season to remember! Isn’t the whole point of sports that it’s supposed to be fun? I seem to recall my little league coach telling me that once…
Commercial Real Estate Broker/Sports Fan
Staff writer at Six Feet Apart, commercial real estate broker for CBRE, Inc., and most importantly, a father of two.