Baseball etiquette 101
I’ve attended around six or seven games so far, and I like what I see. But I’ve felt that way before. As we head into the perilous months of August and September — the Titanic and Hindenburg of seasons past — I am cautiously optimistic. I have more confidence because there are more players carrying the load than just Andrew McCuthchen. And, although steady, Cutch has yet to catch fire this year. And the pitching seems to have rock solid depth, even with the injury to Grilli. We need to add a bat to the starting line-up, and possibly some bench depth, but we’ll see what the trade deadline brings.
I am so breaking my own rule by even saying that much. But confidence is high for both a winning season and a playoff birth.
That said, there are problems that come from success. Fan problems.
When the Pirates were just an afterthought in the city, the crowds were small but the people who came out were solid baseball fans. Oh, sure, there were those who came for bobble heads and fireworks, but on a Tuesday night against the Astros, those were mainly baseball people in the seats.
With success come what I call “the amateurs”… bandwagon jumpers, party seekers, front runners, lemming followers, bored teenagers. They come in like they’ve always owned the place. And they can ruin it for the real fans. So, I’ve seen some lists of fan etiquette out there. I’m not on board with all of them, but I’m a big fan of some. So, here are my 9 new rules for Pirate fans:
Rule #9 – Watch the Outfielder!
You don’t have to go out of your minds every time a player hits a fly ball to the outfield. The best way to tell if a hit is something or nothing is by watching the outfielder. If he hasn’t turned and started sprinting like hell to the wall, it’s probably an out or, hopefully, a single. Deal with it. Act like you’ve been there before.
Rule #8 – Stadium hi-jinx
This is more for management than the fans. It’s getting high time for someone in the Pirates’ front office to dig deep and buy an iTunes subscription. I swear, I’m hearing mostly the same music they have played in that place since I started attending in 2005. Can’t we ever change things up a little? Don’t new songs come out like… all the time! And Garrett Jones? You really need to say good-bye to “Jump on It” as your walk-up music. What are you? A 14-year-old girl? Don’t tell me that song fires you up.
And while I think the constant need to have to entertain the masses with some game between every inning is rather “minor league,” my biggest pet peeve is when they start the phony noise meter every time the other team brings on a relief pitcher. Hey, don’t worry your pretty little heads about it. When things get exciting, WE WILL YELL. Until then, stop trying to manipulate things. We know when to yell, and during a relief pitcher’s warm-up tosses is not one of those times. Stop it!
Rule #7 – Cell phones
You’re at the ballgame. Calls can wait. If you have to make or take a call, make it quick or go to the concourse. And if you are sitting behind home plate and get on your cell phone and start waving at the camera, so help me, I will hunt you down and make you suffer. I swear to God.
Rule #6 – Leaving early
Okay, I veer from convention on this one. Most die-hards say you stay until the bitter end, no matter what. Not me. Ninety percent of the time, we stay until the handshakes. But I’ll admit that there have been times when the Mrs. and I have ducked out early. I say, you pays your money, you get to do what you want. Mid-week games can go long. I was at a Buccos/Giants game when the Giants’ hurler was pitching like he was being paid by the hour. It took two hours to finish the first three innings, and there was no score! I did the math and decided that I didn’t want to be there until 11:30. I get up at the crack of dawn. If you’re just leaving early to get a jump on the traffic, then shame on you. But if you’ve got real life reasons, knock yourself out. I may be wrong on this one. So sue me.
Rule #5 – Getting up and down
Newbie baseball fans seem to think this is a county fair or something. They just walk around the stadium regardless of what’s going on down on the field. Like going to the symphony, there are times you walk around and times you don’t. You don’t get up with your brood of children to go and get Dippin’ Dots right in the middle of an at-bat. You wait until between batters or a stoppage in play. Better yet, between innings. Same for returning to your seats. And when you go, do it quickly.
Rule #4 – Jerseys
This one gets problematic. There are two basic rules on jerseys I abide by. 1) Never put your own name on the back. That’s bush league. Honor a favorite player, past or present, but it isn’t a vanity license plate. However, I will allow editorial statements. 2) No jerseys or caps from teams that aren’t on the field. I don’t need to see your Miami Marlins jersey when the Pirates are playing the Reds. Either pick a team that’s playing, or wear something neutral. I’ll make exceptions for t-shirts and sweatshirts, but I’ll still raise an eyebrow and think nasty thoughts. Some people add a third rule: no non-baseball jerseys at the game. I’m pretty sure this is found in other sports. You may get hassled at a Steelers’ game if you are wearing a Garrett Jones jersey. In Pittsburgh, this is more acceptable because all of our teams have virtually the same colors, but still… I will make one allowance for this. 3.) Only wear a non-baseball jersey if that team is playing around that time (and preferably a playoff game). In other words, if the Pens are in the playoffs on a night the Buccos are playing, I’ll accept a few Pens jerseys in the stands. When I saw the Buccos and Tigers play earlier this year, a guy in front of me was rocking a home Red Wings jersey. We swept the Tigers that day and the Red Wings were eliminated by the Blackhawks just after the game ended. I found that extremely satisfying. Also, give the pink jerseys a rest, will ya, ladies? Team colors or nothing.
Rule #3 – Alternative jerseys
Let’s not get too crazy with our homemade fandom, Mr. Chest Hair…
Rule #2 – Grown Ass Men with Baseball Gloves
No. Just, no. You either catch it bare-handed and shatter your metacarpal bones like the rest of us, or you run and hide. And if you catch it, you then give it to nearest child who is under ten. This isn’t fantasy camp. This isn’t Comi-con. You don’t get to bring equipment with you.
Rule #1 – The Wave
This is my pet peeve. No waves. Ever. Period. Not when your team is batting. Not when the other team is batting. Doing the wave says something loud and clear. It says, “God, I’m bored. I hate baseball. It’s been ten minutes and nothing is happening. What’s trending on Twitter? Do they have ice cream here? Let’s do something else. Hey, a butterfly!” Baseball is entertainment enough. I don’t need synchronized fandom. i don’t need my whole section standing up in front of me just as the pitcher is delivering a pitch. Grow up or go home.
That’s enough of a primer. Unless you have some to add in the comments. By all means, go nuts.
I know it’s been a long time for Pirate fans, but let’s at least pretend that this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve got 5 humungous games against the Cardinals next week. We are about to learn a lot about the cut of this team’s jib. Play ball!