By John Sheridan
On May 1, during the seventh inning of a 6-4 game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, it happened. Someone, somewhere in the stands started it, and then literally tens of thousands of fans joined much to the disbelief of onlookers.
How could these people possibly be so lost and doing something so vile! This was not the time and place for this. It was one of the gravest of sins these people could commit, and hoards of fans and broadcasters immediately began clutching their pearls while denouncing this lewd public act.
Of course, I'm referring to The Wave.
For some reason, this simple act evokes real rage amongst fans. There are people who make it their sworn duty to ensure a Wave does not happen on their watch. In many ways, it's just a complete and utter overreaction which runs counter to the ridiculous things we actually do at the ballpark.
Trumpets blare on the PA system, and fans scream "CHARGE!" at the top of their lungs. Joshua's Troop plays, and everybody does as ordered and claps their hands. A completely fake noise meter appears on the scoreboard, and fans start screaming at the top of their lungs.
In between innings, we stand up and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" because Katie Casey wanted her beau to take her to a game in 1908, and we do a seventh-inning stretch because Brother Jasper wanted fans to calm down during an 1882 collegiate baseball game. As fans, we do a lot of peculiar things in the name of rooting for our team, and yet, only The Wave evokes such visceral reactions.
Frankly, it's bizarre. Like everything else, there is actually a time and place for The Wave. When done properly, it is a great thing.
We constantly talk about how to make baseball more fun for young fans. The Wave is a perfect example. Kids at the ballpark love The Wave. They follow it around the stadium and get excited when it's their turn. They leap and cheer, and they hope it comes back. Really, The Wave is something that can entice young fans to want to come back to the ballpark.
It's also a shared fan experience. Honestly, no one would do it if it weren't fun. That goes double for Mets fans. After all, The Wave was a constant at Shea Stadium during the 1980s. It was fun in the park, and it looked great on television.
Clearly, there is a time and place for The Wave. Really what we need, and fortunately have, is a set of rules. The rules are as follows:
- The Wave Is Always Acceptable On Camp Days
- If There Is A Kid Near You, At Least Fake It
- You Are Never Obligated To Start A Wave
- You Only Get Three Chances To Start A Wave
- You Must Be Sober To Start A Wave
- You Must Be In Left Field Or Right Field To Start A Wave
- There Must Be A Sellout
- No Waves In Close Games
- No Waves In October
- Mercilessly Boo People Who Ignore These Rules
The Wave is a fun fan activity which has its place. Pregame, it is a great way to get the crowd amped up. In blowouts, it's almost like taunting the opposition. It's a fun bonding experience, and it is something kids love. We need to see The Wave at games, but only under the right circumstances.
After all, if you can stand and clap or scream randomly under the direction of the PA system, you can stand and do The Wave (or at least fake it by throwing your hands up). It is really no different. Next time you are at a game, look for ways to have fun instead of policing the ways other people have fun.
Stand up. Throw your hands up, Give a little shout. Cheer for The Wave to make it to the end of the ballpark, and do a standing ovation. Have fun with it. But please, just don't do it during the seventh inning of a close game again.
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @metsdaddy2013.