Let’s talk about the impact baseball can have on fans.
I’m not talking about “impact” as used by people who struggle with the difference between “affect” and “effect.” I’m talking about the impact that rattles your teeth, breaks your skull, bruises your brain.
You have to pay attention people. You probably don’t have the reflexes of a 25-year-old athlete and you are responsible for your own safety while sitting in the stands. Just read the fine print on your ticket. It has purple prose by the team’s lawyers. The gist is: “If you get hit, you can’t sue us.” (Even as I write this, a San Diego Padre is retrieving his bat from the stands.) I can’t predict the outcome of any challenge you have to that legal mumbo jumbo but I can predict that a bat or ball will be hard and your head or other important body part won’t feel good.
Next time you are at a game, watch some of the fans. If you are watching TV, you can see them in the background on many shots of the batter. Count how many people are paying attention. Yes, they are missing a great game, just like the umpire, but they also are putting themselves at risk.
For years, the best example came when fans engaged in conversation. The ballpark is a great place for conversation, even now that world class sound systems have become galactic annoyances. NEVER TURN YOUR HEAD AWAY FROM THE BATTER. This applies even if you have trouble hearing your companion. Even if you are discussing important stuff like European monetary policy or coming attractions on HBO, KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE GAME. If a wonderfully agile professional athletes on the pitcher’s occasionally get drilled, what makes you think you have a chance when you aren’t even looking?
Of course, modern technology makes this worse. Who hasn’t been tempted to look up Michael Bourn’s on-base percentage on their smartphone? This is only recommended for those us sitting in the cheap seats in home run territory. (Sorry, Michael). If you paid more than $20 for that seat (or any price at a minor-league park), wait for a lull in the action.
Turning around and seeing a fan writhing on the concrete, as I saw last week in Columbus, can ruin your day. Having it happen to you could impact your life.