In some way, baseball is back

| July 30, 2020 5:57 PM

Ahhh, now there’s a slice of “reality” sports fans can grab onto.

Baseball is back, kinda.

The Boys of “Mid-Summer” have returned to the playing field. But something is amiss in this TV only, no fans display of what used to be America’s game.

No fans? Carboard cut-outs in otherwise pricey stadium seats? Fake crowd noises?

Huh?

I was so excited to see professional baseball back in action, I couldn’t help but tune in! The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the sound of beer and hot dog vendors in the background!

But this was kind of like showering with your socks on…something ain’t right here.

I’m a football guy. If there is an “America’s Game” there is no doubt in my mind football is king. Don’t give me the “more fans watch soccer than any other sport in the world” thing. Not in the USA baby!!

And basketball, which is also kicking off a no-fans, TV spectacle, is not America’s game either. The rest of the world caught up awhile ago and plays a better team game than you see in the NBA. And most players think being able to put a rubber ball in a round hole translate into political insight only they possess.

I grew up one block from the town ballpark. During summers I practically lived at Cobb Field, playing neighborhood versus neighborhood baseball games all morning long. We had more fans, including the wicked grounds keeper who would always show up late in the morning to kick us off the field, than the pro games did.

There was always at least a neighbor or two who would stop and watch us play.

Afternoons would find many of us gathered under a shade tree swapping baseball cards for hours on end.

By evening I would be either getting ready to crawl inside the scoreboard atop the left field fence and keep track of the score by moving tin plates into the proper inning slot or filling my shoulder-strap rack with “Ice cold Coke” as I roamed the stands looking for customers.

Baseball to me was big time.

Now this has happened.

Cardboard cut-outs for fans? Whose idea was that? A better place for those non-talking stiffs would be the left side of the House of Representatives during a State of the Union address.

Nah, the cut-outs would have more expressive personality.

Piped in, fake crowd cheers of virtual fans? Is this the final step in creating a virtual reality world? Will humans no longer be necessary?

In the massive stadiums of today, couldn’t every THIRD seat be sold and occupied by a real person? At least there would be genuine if not dimmed crowd response. At least 15,000 people, unless you are a Miami Marlins fan where that would be considered a massive crowd, could see the game, buy a hot dog and drink at beer or two.

Face masks could be required. Make them a promotional giveaway in the team’s colors and featuring your favorite players number. Put a mouth hole flap on them for straws and quick bites of Cracker Jack or hot dog.

That same flap could also be raised for the occasional Bronx cheer.

And couldn’t this same approach have been applied to minor league baseball, which had the entire season scrubbed?

Equally as important, vendors, ticket-takers, ushers and maintenance employees could earn a paycheck.

I miss the public address announcer and those echoing player introductions. There was always the chance the announcer would make a gaffe or forget the microphone was on at an inopportune time.

I will never forget a game on a sunny afternoon where several ladies in the front few rows had umbrellas to ward off the suns rays. Apparently this brought complaints from fans sitting behind those sporting a bumper shoot. The PA announcer took care of that.

“Will the ladies in the front row please remove their clothing?” he bellowed. I guess you could consider umbrellas clothing but the wrong choice of words brought down the house.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing and little children shout,

But there is no joy in baseball, the cardboard cut-out has struck out!

Chuck Kvelve Bandel is a reporter for the Mineral Independent and Clark Fork Valley Press. Look for his “Kvelve’s Comments” column weekly.