Going to the ballpark isn’t what it used to be

Luther Dorr
Luther Dorr

OK, I’m sitting at a Twins game on a beautiful night last Saturday and the guys in front of me are arguing about what a player’s walk-up music should be.

In case you’re not up on walk-up music, nearly every player in the Major Leagues now has a certain song played on the PA system when he comes to bat.

Some pose longer than others to let the song play out a bit but it’s become a big deal for some players and some fans.

I can’t remember which one of the Minnesota Twins they were arguing about but, unfortunately, it was a serious discussion, with some harsh words flying around after their fourth beer in six innings.

I began to think that baseball has passed me by if this was the biggest thing of the night, which it seemed to be for those four guys from Northfield.

Players used to walk to the plate and receive cheers or boos, whatever they deserved, and no one seemed to need a song to figure out who was batting.

I made the determination that I have fallen behind a bit on what is important at a baseball game.

There were a couple guys next to me who had driven all the way from Hibbing and they spent more time away from their seats than sitting in them.

These were $100 seats, only 11 rows up from the field (I had done some trading of two cheaper seats to get one good one) so it wasn’t like they were cheap seats that didn’t offer a good view of the game.

True, the Twins were getting pounded by the Red Sox but the Hibbing guys were already out to the concession stand in the first inning.

Behind me sat two young girls from Edina, ages 9 and 10. They were there with the nanny of one of them and she was doing a reasonably good job of explaining the game to them.

But the music in between innings, the dance contest, and the Kiss Cam feature that focusses on various couples and encourages them to kiss was the biggest deal for them.

Every couple innings the nanny would take them out to load up on concessions, the girls doing the math to see if they had enough money to get the things the nanny wasn’t buying for them.

I realized after a couple innings that I was on an island.

There was a 1960s war movie called “No Man Is an Island” and I thought of that movie for the first time in about 50 years as I sat watching a game that most around me weren’t bothering to watch.

With all the empty seats around me, a older guy with a Red Sox jersey and Red Sox hat snuck down from the cheap seats and asked, “Is anyone sitting here?”

“Not very often,” was my answer.

We got to talking and swapping statistics and baseball stories and the next couple innings flew by.

He asked me if I had been to Fenway Park in Boston, pronouncing park like pock with that nasal, but beautiful, Boston accent. I said I had and asked him if he had ever been to the Metrodome or Met Stadium.

“Been to both,” he said. “Have relatives here. Used to come here in the summer. Couldn’t stand that indoor park. Why would anyone want to play baseball inside? But I liked the Met and Target Field is great.”

Finally, I had a found a baseball fan instead of a casual observer intent on concessions and/or walk-up music.

The guys from Hibbing came back and the guy from Beantown had to move back to his seat in the right field bleachers, the bleachers where very few Twins home run balls land. We thanked each other  for the conversation and off he went.

It was the seventh inning  by now and the Twins had wasted some good scoring chances. I disagreed with about four strategies decided on by Manager Ron Gardenhire and decided it was time to get nearer to the exit.

Besides, I didn’t want to look up and see any more of the inane tweets that keep showing up on the message board where they sometimes bother to put scores of other games.

You probably guessed that I don’t tweet.

So – walk-up music, tweets, and lots of empty seats because the fans are walking around paying little attention to the game.

Throw in a bad night for the local nine and it was time to leave, albeit  a little early

I guess modern-day baseball has changed. Or maybe I’m behind the times.

Maybe it’s a little of both but it’s not what it was.