It’s time to silence the “Make Noise” sign

get-loud

There’s a scourge upon baseball stadiums that needs to be eradicated. No, not the wave. Okay, yes, the wave, but also, the jumbotron or scoreboard that tells fans when to cheer. Every stadium has it in some form or another. Whether fans are being instructed to “Get Louder” or  “Make Noise” or just “Make Some Noise”—or even whether they’re being evaluated on some form of “Noise Meter” (which I don’t think is scientific at all)—it’s insidious and dumb, and here’s why:

1. Fans know when to cheer.
You can’t manufacture enthusiasm. It’s either a moment that warrants cheering or it isn’t. If the jumbotron flashes instructions to cheer, there may be noise, but if the only thing people are cheering for is the jumbotron, then the noise is doomed to disappear as soon as the instructions go away. Which leads to point number two:

2. Jumbotron-inspired cheering is followed by awkward silence.
When fans cheer because they’re instructed to rather than because the game situation warrants it, it nearly always peters out into awkward silence. When crowd noise is generated organically through actual excitement at a game, it is sustained and emotional and one of the best things about being a fan. When it’s manufactured by a scoreboard operator, it’s awkward and confusing. Which leads to point number three:

3. The scoreboard’s timing is always weird.
I don’t know if there are rules about when the “Make Noise” sign is allowed to be turned on, but the timing is always weird. The sign comes on between pitches, when players are adjusting their velcro or tapping dirt of their cleats or whatever, and then when the batter steps into the box and prepares for the big moment, the sign turns off and at the very moment when fans should be the loudest, the noise disappears. It leaves fans watching the game rather than the scoreboard wondering what the heck is going on.

4. Baseball is different from other sports.
I realize that the purpose of the “Make Noise” sign is to inject enthusiasm into a crowd. But baseball fans are okay with the pace of their game—it doesn’t have to be a constant barrage of noise as you might get with other sports. It’s why baseball doesn’t have pep bands and cheerleaders and dance squads. It’s a different kind of sports experience.

One of the great things about baseball is that it generates its own enthusiasm based on the ebb and flow of the game, but when you try to force it with manufactured cheering, it interrupts the rhythm of the game and just makes everything weird.

Salt air, crabcake sandwiches, and baseball: Is this Heaven? No, it’s New Jersey

BlueClaws-Sunset

It’s a well-documented, scientific fact that minor league baseball is the greatest thing ever. When you combine minor league baseball with one of the other greatest things ever, my annual trip to the New Jersey shore, you pretty much have everything you need. But then if you combine minor league baseball and the Jersey shore with award-winning stadium food and giveaway salt-and-pepper shakers, well, then you’re in Heaven.

BlueClaws-Balls

The Lakewood BlueClaws, single-A affiliate of the Phillies, have led the South Atlantic League in attendance for 13 years—every year since their inception. And you can see why. They play in a great stadium, tickets and parking are cheap, and the staff are among the friendliest I’ve experienced at any level of baseball. Within minutes after entering the park, my niece was handed a baseball by an usher, an elevator attendant told me to have a “clawtastic” day, another usher steered my son toward the best spot to get a baseball from a player (which worked like a charm), and throughout the game, yet another usher lavished the kids in our group with gifts like Ryan Howard baseball cards and free hot dog coupons.

BlueClaws-Crabcakes

And then there was Candace (or possibly Diane; we can’t remember), who was working the crabcake sandwich stand behind home plate. The BlueClaws’ crabcake sandwich is notable for having won this year’s minor league baseball Food Fight, in which fans voted online for the best stadium concession in all of the minors.

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Phillies Prospect Andrew Pullin on Learning a New Position, Host Families, and Life in the Minors

621416Andrew Pullin was drafted by the Phillies in the 5th round of the 2012 draft. Drafted as an outfielder out of high school, the Phillies have transitioned Pullin to second base. After a season in the developmental Gulf Coast League, then another with the rookie league Williamsport Crosscutters last year, Pullin is enjoying success with single-A Lakewood BlueClaws this season. Only one player has played more games for the BlueClaws in 2014, and Pullin is tied for the team lead in runs scored and leads the team in walks. He spoke with us before a game in July.

Phillies Prospect Dylan Cozens Looks to the Future

dylan-cozensIn the clubhouse of the single-A Lakewood BlueClaws, 20-year-old Dylan Cozens towers over the other players. The former high school two-sport star was recruited to play college football, but chose baseball instead after being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft. He’s currently the 14th-ranked prospect in the Phillies’ system, and leads the BlueClaws this season in both home runs and stolen bases. He spoke with us July 24 after going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs in an 8-3 win over the Greenville Drive.

Phillies Prospect Larry Greene Jr. on Frozen, Misspelled Names, and More

larry-greene-jrLarry Greene, Jr., is ranked as the number 22 prospect in the Phillies organization. He’s projected to be a power hitting outfielder, so it’s a little incongruous that the single-A Lakewood (NJ) BlueClaws occasionally play as his walk-up music the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. (You may have heard of it. It was a small, independent film. Didn’t get much play in the media.)

He was the 39th pick in 2011 draft, but his early career has been derailed by injury, including significant time on the DL last season and earlier this season. In his third season in pro ball, he’s working on finding his groove by staying healthy and adapting to the rigors of a career in professional baseball.

He talked to us July 24, 2014, in Lakewood.