Major League Baseball is, at long last, back. None of us fans will be able to watch our teams play in-person this season, but we can at least watch them on TV (although blackouts are still a thing).
If you’re like me, you haven’t been able to abstain until July 23rd, when the regular season officially begins. “Summer Camp” games have been going on for a few days now, allowing big leaguers to get back into shape before the start of the 60-game season. There are no fans in the stands, similar to the regular season, giving fans and players alike the chance to acclimate to this new and temporary (fingers crossed) version of America’s Pastime.
I thought I would hate it.
But I don’t hate it.
I thought it would be worse than watching golf, for there wouldn’t even be a roar of the crowd after significant moments, e.g. a putt for eagle, or a walk-off home run. While those sorts of crowd interactions will surely be missed, particularly in the playoffs, there are some pros to having no one in the seats.
The Sound and the Fury
Are you familiar with the sound of a home run being hit in an empty, cavernous stadium? It’s glorious, it really is. The thwack is infinitely louder than when there are screaming fans drowning out the crack of the bat. The echo reverberates off the stadium walls as the hitter watches the ball soar into the stands. This effect works better in certain stadiums, depending on their shapes, but home runs will certainly sound better as a whole in 2020.
Then we have the verbal aspect of baseball. It will be much easier to hear what players, coaches, and umpires have to say to each other throughout the course of a game, both good and bad. Some of this exposure will, undoubtedly, produce meme-worthy quotes for everyone to enjoy. Will we be treated to gems similar to “our ass is in the jackpot“? Absolutely. Appreciate it. This is an unprecedented level of transparency that we might never see again.
A Truer Measure of Talent
The crowd affects the outcome of a game. I don’t care what you have to say, they do; I’ll die on this hill if anyone opposes me. Tens of thousands of people rooting against you makes it more difficult, in general, to succeed, while the opposite is also true. So, if you take the fans out of the equation, what do you have?
The randomness of this season will stem from the 60-game thing. There will probably be a team or two that gets hot and sneaks into the playoffs, even though they would have fizzled out over a 162-game season. But make no mistake, matchups this season, in a vacuum, will be more accurate when it comes to determining superior and inferior talents in Major League Baseball.
This is one of the perks of removing the biggest external factor in professional sports, the crowd. In 2020, it’s just about which player and which team is better in that specific moment. Alas, 60 games will not produce enough data to really draw any meaningful conclusions from this heightened validity. However, when you watch a baseball game this season, you can do so with the understanding that the results you are witnessing are produced based solely off of the abilities, or lack thereof, of the players involved.
Expect to see more personality from your favorite players this season. We’ve already seen Francisco Lindor somersault onto home plate after an intersquad home run, and while I wouldn’t anticipate things like that happening too often, players will be more inclined to have fun out there. There are no hecklers to worry about and Major League Baseball is desperate for good ratings; it’s a perfect formula for some welcome extraverted-ness.
Suck It Up
Whether you like watching Major League Baseball this year or not, it’s just for 60 games. Don’t be a baby. The lack of crown noise will take some getting used to, but I think (I know) there will be some positives to this new format that we can be entertained by for a few months.
So suck it up. Major League Baseball is back.