As baseball in Taiwan is played with no fans and MLB considers doing the same, there is precedent for such a thing in this country. On this date in 2015, 27 years after making history with their 0-21 streak, the Baltimore Orioles made history again by playing a game with no fans present.
Ten days earlier, Freddie Gray, a 25-year old African American Baltimore resident, died in police custody after sustaining injuries while in a police transport vehicle. In the days that followed, several protests occurred throughout the city. The protests turned violent after Gray’s funeral on April 27th. Protestors threw rocks at police, looted stores, and burned a CVS drug store. School was canceled, a curfew was put in place, and the governor declared a state of emergency. As a result, Orioles games that night and the following day were postponed.
On Wednesday, April 29, the Orioles were permitted to play their scheduled game against the Chicago White Sox, but no fans were permitted inside the stadium. Players and members of the media called the game with no fans “surreal” and some fans attempted to watch from the outfield gates. SB Nation provided a good summary with several photos of the game. You can also see what it was like in the video below – with Orioles’ announcer Gary Thorne joking that it was so quiet it was like a golf game:
Yesterday, Chef Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen set up shop outside of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. They will be there every Saturday as long as needed. They plan to provide about 10,000 to 20,000 meals each week. Since we can’t have baseball right now, this is a great use of the stadium!
Recently I stumbled upon a cool YouTube video that has pictures of the Camden Yards area of Baltimore before Oriole Park at Camden Yards was built. I figured I’d post it today since yesterday was supposed to be Opening Day.
WBAL, a TV station in Baltimore, is sponsoring another Puppy with a Purpose. A naming contest was held and the winning name was Brooks. And the lucky pup got to spend some time with his namesake, Brooks Robinson, at Camden Yards last week:
Way too cute!
Last year’s puppy name? Camden. May all dogs be named after Baltimore baseball greats!
On Saturday before the Orioles-Yankees game, the Orioles paid tribute to Hall of Famer and Orioles great, Frank Robinson. Robinson passed away on February 7, 2019.
And on April 2, the City of Baltimore renamed portions of 33rd Street – where Memorial Stadium formerly stood – Frank Robinson Way.
This is a great infographic from the Orioles providing stats on the first 2,000 games played at Camden Yards:
The other night I decided to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game on ESPN. Probably because I was upset about the report of fan violence last week at Camden Yards. Apparently Orioles fans were harassing a Yankees fan during the Orioles-Nationals series last week. The Yankees fan ended up getting hurt. I wasn’t there, so I’ll just defer to the CNN report of the incident. The whole thing was disturbing. It brought to mind the incident of fan violence in Los Angeles in 2011. (Click here for the update on that incident.)
We like to pretend things like that don’t happen in our ballpark. How a fun outing to the ballpark can end up in violence is hard to understand. And much of the sociological literature on sport and violence really doesn’t explain individual instances of fan violence; it’s better at explaining instances of crowd violence and rowdiness, such as celebratory riots after a game. For example, sport sociologist Jay Coakley states that general violence at a sporting event is related to three factors: (1) the action in the sport itself, (2) crowd dynamics among the spectators at the event, and (3) the historical, social, economic, and political contexts in which the event is played. This might explain some of bad behavior, but not all of it.
Sport psychology also looks closely at crowd behavior. According to a recent article in Louisiana’s Health and Fitness Magazine, “Despite all of the positive bonding and emotional experiences that can occur rooting for a sports team, there are a number of ways in which the passion turns decidedly ugly. Being in a large crowd of emotionally charged people and having a tangible “enemy” in your presence can trigger terrible behavior. The nature of being in a crowd can affect the psyche of an individual. People lose their sense of inhibition (often aided by large quantities of alcohol).”
Thus, one explanation – from both sociology and psychology – is that identifying with your team provides a sense of belonging, and being at a stadium surrounded by other fans of your team can lead an individual to act differently than he or she might otherwise do. (And, yes, the alcohol may help alter one’s behavior.) If your sense of belonging or identity is threatened, you may act out violently to protect yourself or your team. Individual factors, such as emotions and personality, can also play a role. Emotions run high at sporting events – sometimes they get out of control. While this provides some explanation – and certainly no excuse – for fan violence, it doesn’t quite explain it all to me. More research needs to be done on this issue so solutions can be found.
As much as many of us love to hate the Yankees, we need to learn to separate our emotions from the game and realize that all fans share a love of the game. Besides, as President Obama once said, “the Yankees [are] easy to love.” That goes for their fans as well.
The waiting is almost over! Tomorrow is Opening Day! Tonight is the Opening Night game in Texas!
Camden Yards was rocking last night as the Baltimore Orioles took on their arch-rivals (who shall not be named) in the first game of the American League Division Series. The Orioles this year have been called upstarts, surprising, and even lucky. Maybe that’s why they represent this area and the city of Baltimore so well. We are completely underestimated.
Of course, one reason the fans love the Orioles so much, is that the team loves us back. It’s a beautiful relationship. Check out the video the Orioles are now playing on the scoreboard during games. I caught it for the first time at last night’s game, and it gave me chills and smiles:
Just 9 more days until Opening Day! I can’t wait!
Here’s another photo from last year’s AWESOME baseball season…