Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I'm Perfectly Happy to Wave Goodbye to This Misguided Tradition

I'd seen the messages on the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington video boards this year, and they both amused and pleased me. And now the Texas Rangers' only partially tongue-in-cheek campaign to get rid of the Wave at baseball games is generating national attention:
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has become the focal point for a movement this season.

It's a push to stop a trend that has long-since slowed at some ballparks across the nation, but still has ardent supporters in Arlington.

It's the drive to end the wave.

The Rangers' public-address announcer Chuck Morgan puts anti-wave warnings on the video screen in the outfield. Fan Stephanie Blumenthal wears an anti-wave T-shirt that she and a friend designed. There's even a website (www.stopthewave.net) that would like to see fans give up on the stadium tradition of different fans in sections rising in unison during the game.

The race for the American League West may be the most important goal at Rangers Ballpark. Stopping the wave could be No. 2.
I for one am totally on board with the idea.

I've been a non-fan of the Wave since it first made its way into the Ballpark. Why? Well, for two main reasons:
  • People do it at the wrong time. As noted in the linked article,
    When the Rangers were up 20-6 over Minnesota seemed like an OK time. Same goes for during a rain delay. Maybe even between an inning every now and then. And kids should have a chance to do the wave at least once, right?

    But when the Rangers are in a close game and either attempting to rally or trying to snuff out one? That's an absolute no-no and that's what has rankled so many in the no-wave clan.
    And my own opinion is that, no matter what the score, it should never be done when the home team is at bat...but maybe that's just me?

  • Not only can it distract the players, but it detracts from the game itself.. It's as if the fans are more interested in themselves being the entertainment than the game itself. People pay money--sometimes good money--to see the game, not their fellow spectators (the only exception to this in all of entertainment may well be The Rocky Horror Picture Show). If you want to create your own entertainment, stay home and play the MLB video game.
Does the Wave even have a place in baseball? Depending on which source you believe, it was created at a college basketball game--or hockey, football, or even auto racing. (And a well-known piece of lore has it being created by Robb Weller, former college yell leader turned Entertainment Tonight co-host, which ought to disqualify it from pure sporting events right then and there.) According to a commenter at the linked article, the purpose of the Wave at University of Washington games (Weller's domain at the time), it was used to distract the opposing team during signal-calling and fire up the crowd during big defensive stands by the home team--neither of which is exactly applicable to the game of baseball. In fact, it came to baseball late, and a lot of us out there wouldn't mind if it just quietly slinked away.

Nobody--not even Morgan or stopthewave.net founder Greg Holland--expects the Wave to die completely, but if the video board campaign prompts even a few people to think, "Oh yeah, this is pretty idiotic, isn't it?", then it will have succeeded.

And there's no way this will ever happen:
Morgan knows there is one sure-fire way to stop the wave at the park, but it will never happen.

"Any more waves, no more beer," he joked.
Yeah, that would be a bit much. But you know what? Back when the Rangers had a section of the park designated as the "non-alcohol family section" (do they still have this?), the Wave would die there every time. Food for thought...

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