Well here we go. It looks as though we will be watching Major League Baseball in 2020 after all. Starting July 24, a shortened, 60-game season is supposed to begin. The Phillies will be playing strictly East Coast teams – both American and National League. Fans will not be in attendance, but will be able to watch at home on TV and other devices.
Many new rules have been imposed. The players have to sit far apart from each other when not playing. Some will sit in the stands. No spitting or rubbing up baseballs. No chewing gum, no tobacco, no sunflower seeds. No high-fives, no pats on the back.
It reminds me of my kids when they were little. My son would point his finger inches from my daughter’s face. She would scream, “Mom! He’s touching me!” This should be fun.
It will be baseball, but what will it SOUND like? Even watching on TV, we can hear the roar of the crowd. Without fans in the stands, what will we hear?
Dan Baker will still be announcing the players as they come to bat at Citizens Bank Park. I love hearing his distinctive voice. He is currently the longest-tenured PA announcer in Major League Baseball, having begun the role all the way back in 1972. Each team has such different PA announcers. They are part of the team, really. Any fan that goes to games knows those voices. Consider the late Bob Sheppard of the New York Yankees. If you had ever gone to the old Yankee Stadium you would have heard his unique style.
I imagine the sounds of the game itself will be amplified. The ball hitting the glove, the crack of the bat, the sound of a well-struck home run are distinctive sounds that will be easy to hear. We should also be able to hear a player sliding into a base, sliding and tearing up grass in the outfield, a ball clanging off a facade or wall or in the seats, even a player kicking around dirt in the batter’s box if it is truly silent.
Will the players still want their walk-up songs played? Don’t they need some motivation? They won’t have fans cheering (or booing) to get them going. Will we hear the general chatter around the infield or the catcher talking to the batter or the umpire? Maybe the players will agree to be mic’d up. I always enjoy listening to the dialogue. We should also hear the umpire calls, and the arguments…although those might need to be censored. But that’s part of the fun of the argument, in my opinion. We can lip read, too, you know.
The Phillie Phanatic is allowed to watch, but not on the field. He is silent, after all. And finally, what about our Liberty Bell? If Bryce Harper or another player hits a home run, will we hear the piped-in voice of Harry Kalas saying,”That ball’s outta here!” followed by the pealing of the symbol of our city? If they can’t high-five, can they bump elbows, or raise a fist in celebration? Remember the old “laugh track” for television? Maybe we need a “cheering track”.
No matter. My calendar countdown has started. Silent or not, I’m ready for baseball.