(City Journal) -- “Make some NOISE!” The P.A. recording exhorts the crowd. “Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack! Clack!” the speakers pump to enhance the noise generated by a few obedient fans. It’s the third inning of a scoreless early-season game, and a batter has just reached base via a two-out base on balls.
Baseball is the rare sport with longs stretches of quiet, with sunny days where spectators can hear seagulls cry and fastballs thump the catcher’s mitt from the upper deck. These pastoral stretches are punctuated by violently hit baseballs flying out of the stadium at 100 mph, or by players sprinting around the bases and kicking up dirt, or by fielders leaping into the air to snag line drives. But the quiet moments are increasingly rare. Major League Baseball is committed to addressing complaints that the game is boring, slow, and short of “action”—the complaints of people who don’t like baseball, in other words. Baseball must be sped up, they say, or at least the experience of watching a game must be; the game must be made to seem faster, more intense and action-packed.
The quiet of baseball, where the senses are lulled or the tension builds, must be abolished, filled by thumping music. Each batter gets personalized “walk-up music,” usually a 20-second snippet from his favorite rowdy song. Between innings, we get sing-alongs, clap-alongs, kiss-cams, and video-scoreboard games, all accompanied by the stadium’s high-powered sound system, capable of volumes that make side-by-side conversation in the distant decks possible only by yelling. It’s the kind of aural assault usually reserved for military psy-ops.
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