#Baltimore Will Have the World’s Saddest Baseball Game Ever Played

#Baltimore Will Have the World’s Saddest Baseball Game Ever Played

#Baltimore Will Have the World’s Saddest Baseball Game Ever Played

I am a diehard baseball fan. I love the game, I love the history of the game, and I still think the movie “42” was robbed by not getting nominated for ANYTHING at the Oscars in 2014.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, on June 1, 2013
Oriole Park at Camden Yards, on June 1, 2013

So as a baseball fan, I was shocked when the rioting in Baltimore got so bad that fans were held inside Camden Yards on Saturday night and not allowed to leave.

Eventually, the fans were allowed to leave, but the uproar from the mayor’s inability to get control and protect the public led to her now-infamous quote:
And as a result of the ongoing violence and tension in Baltimore after dark, Major League Baseball decided to make significant changes to the Baltimore Orioles’ schedule. Two games were rescheduled for late May, the Orioles will play as the home team in Tampa Bay over this next weekend, and the saddest game in the history of baseball will be played this afternoon at Camden Yards.

Yes, you read that right. Baltimore is so unstable at this point, that the Orioles will play the Chicago White Sox without any fans in attendance. INTENTIONALLY. This is the first game in the history of major league baseball that will be closed to the public. Up to this point, the lowest attended baseball game was back in the 19th century.

John Thorn, MLB’s official historian, says that the lowest-ever attendance in the majors was September 28, 1882 in Massachusetts.

Six people were in the stands as the hometown Worcester “Ruby Legs” Worcesters lost to the Troy Trojans, 4-1. It was the penultimate day of the season.

As a baseball fan, I can’t even comprehend how you play a game under those conditions. And some sports writers share that same feeling.

Really, this situation boggles the mind. Before today, it would have never even occurred to me that such a thing could actually exist. And now it’s a reality. A Major League Baseball game, in the year 2015, will be closed to the public. There were fans at my 3-year-old’s soccer game on Saturday, and those kids didn’t even know they were playing a sport. This is a baseball game with no fans.

You don’t realize, until there is something as strange as a baseball game with no fans, just how much the whole experience is geared toward us, the fans. I mean, I know intellectually they play baseball games because people watch them, but it never seems that way when you’re actually watching one. Players, wisely, rarely interact with the fans; they’re focused on playing an extremely difficult sport. Managers do what they can to block out the noise, and Lord knows, umpires do, lest they lose their minds. Sometimes it can feel like we’re watching a theater production, or a stage play: We’re there, but no one wants to admit it.

But erase us from the game — wipe us completely out — and suddenly, an ordinary single baseball game turns absurd.

If no one is watching, why do anything? So much of this is for show. Do managers still argue with umpires? Do pitchers hide their faces under their caps when they’re excited so as to not show up the opposition? (Show them up to whom?) Does it really matter how much time you take between pitches if no one is there? Could there be a beanbrawl? One imagines both bullpens emptying until, halfway there, they experience a Zen profundity caused by the silence that surrounds them and then turn around and go back.

The game will be televised, but with no one actually in the stands, it’s just going to look and sound so unutterably strange and disconcerting. Everyone will be watching just because it will look and sound so different, but this is what we have come to in 2015.

Back in 2001, after the September 11th attacks, Major League Baseball postponed games for a week out of an abundance of caution and shock. I remember the 2001 baseball season quite vividly – the Seattle Mariners had a historic 116 win season that year. The day they officially clinched the American League West championship, this happened.

The Mariners on September 19, 2001, after clinching the AL West championship
The Mariners on September 19, 2001, after clinching the AL West championship
The team went out on the field to thank the fans, carrying an American flag. And then they stopped for a prayer on the pitcher’s mound, a sight which still makes me cry.
The team chaplain leads the Mariners in prayer
The team chaplain leads the Mariners in prayer
And even though the Mariners (sadly) did not make the World Series that year, I remember the 2001 World Series quite well because President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the series. It was a profound moment full of symbolism. It was one of those moments where I first dared to think, “We will get through this.” And it still gives me chills to watch.

By contrast, President Obama carried on blithely with the White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night.

He did make a few comments yesterday in the Rose Garden, while having a planned press conference with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, before the planned state dinner. But we are all used to Obama paying lip service to law enforcement while also scolding them, and for scolding rioters while praising protesters. If he wanted to show real leadership, maybe he should show up to the Orioles game today. After all, his White Sox are playing. Can you imagine how the optics would play, if the teams were playing for the President of the United States in a empty stadium?

But that would require imagination and leadership. The White House is in short supply of both these days. So Camden Yards will have no fans for today’s game, while everyone watches from a screen or listens to the radio to both hear and see what a game looks like when no one is allowed to come and cheer. A game with no seventh-inning stretch or “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” being sung. No cheers, no boos, no one there to care when a home run is hit or a strikeout recorded. That’s my definition of the saddest baseball game ever played: the one surrounded by the sad sound of silence.

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