May 31st, 2009
After going to the Rogers Centre en famille to watch the Jays defeat the Red Sox 5-3 yesterday, I’ll take a break from the serious business of narrative to write about the way American national pastime is now presented in Canada. While aging undoubtedly reduces tolerance for loud noise and bright lights, I think the Rogers Centre’s use of both is radically diminishing enjoyment of the game. The Centre – a concrete echo chamber, especially when the roof is closed – pulsates with incessant generic rock music, interrupted only for the few seconds between the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand and the play concluding.
The Jays – and I don’t know if this is common practice in Major League Baseball – have little signature tunes, also rockish, played when each batter comes to the plate. In addition to all the valuable electronic billboard information (the count, individual stats, playbacks) there is lots of extraneous stuff, such as exhortations to make noise or names of fans celebrating birthdays.
All this son et lumiere defeats what I remember from the days of the Triple A Maple Leafs or even Blue Jays prior to Skydome, as it was first called, as one of the enjoyable aspects of the game, the chance to chat quietly between plays about strategy or share baseball lore. This is particularly important when bringing young children – mine are nine and six – and trying to explain as much inside baseball as they can absorb.
If the Jays insist on signature tunes for their players, why not be more creative? One day they could do jazz signature tunes or another they could do Beatles or a third they could do classics, even hooked on classics style (which I am playing on Youtube as I write). There are some great possibilities here such as “Norwegian wood” or perhaps “Yesterday” for a designated hitter, “a little help from my friends” when a pitcher comes up to bat (under National League Rules), or ethnically motivated choices such as Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony or Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Ode to Joy? Take Five? Take the A-Train? Caravan? Blue Rondo a la Turk? The possibilities are endless.
In any event, despite the excesses of son et lumiere, a good time was had by all, and our six year old son stayed interested to the last out in the top of the ninth, and told me that now he wanted to see the Yankees. We will.