Sounds of the game
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Baseball is coming back. Designated hitters, pitching specialists and the eerie shadows occupying corners of the stands where ticket holders used to be seated.
There will be no people in the stands, only social-distancing players attempting to ply their trade with no sunflower seeds or high fives.
And following the lead of professional baseball will be the youth leagues, probably doing it without fans to eat nachos and slurp through snow cones from the unopened concession stands.
What will games in the “new normal” sound like?
The jumbotrons in the major league ballparks will blast their songs and tributes to individual players like always. Advertisements will light up the night, as teams attempt to recoup a portion of the money they will be missing from ticket sales.
“Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “Willie, Mickey and the Duke,” the age-old metrics of “The Seventh Inning Stretch,” “I Can Be Center Field” and Alabama’s “Cheap Seats” will still fill the empty corridors and sun-baked bleachers on Sundays.
But what is going to be missing from the sometimes criticized National Pastime?
No concessionaire chants from those who once sold “scorecards and lineups.” No “red hots” slathered in mustard, sauerkraut and relish. No ice cream bars or cold beer. No lemonade or cotton candy of blue and pink on a sticky cardboard holder. Peanuts will still be in the fields in Georgia or California. “Cracker Jack” won’t make a comeback.
Major League games will be as quiet as a shy, 15-year-old boy on his first date. The usual drone that hovers over a crowd — even between innings — won’t be around. Players might be heard even out in the faraway bullpens. Umpires, who have their own language among themselves, could be heard by an eavesdropping intern stationed in the press box. The public address system will belch the latest popular songs and send out information to the pigeons and sparrows about pitching changes, pinch hitters, the rest of a short homestand and who might have thrown out the first pitch before the game started.
None of the dugouts will be abuzz with manager-to-player talk or player-to-player communication.
While on defense, players in the outfield might call out just to see if the guy 75-feet away is paying attention, or wants to comment on how strange the game seems in 2020.
Catchers talking to hitters might need to rein in their jibes and trash talking, since they may be heard on a radio microphone in the press box.
To add a little flavor to the first-seen solitude of the game, managers could be wearing microphones, so the television or radio audience could be briefed on some in-game thinking or strategy.
Playing fields will still be manicured by lively ground crews, but nobody will be taking tickets at the gates or pushing souvenirs on the concourses or uncrowded stands.
The attendants usually located in the box seat or terrace box areas won’t be around with their towels to clean the seats of patrons — for an expected tip of course.
No boos for the umpires. No muted catcalls for the opposing team. No need for a scoreboard inclusion of out-of-town games. The people in the press box will have easy access to needed information.
Mostly it will be quiet. Too quiet for most people’s liking.
But it will be baseball.
And the coronavirus won’t be batting cleanup for either team.