I love baseball all season long, but also welcome people who pay attention only on major events, such as the All-Star game last Tuesday and maybe the World Series.
Let me assure such occasional fans that this column is not some misty-eyed paean to the game, nor is it a hand ringing indictment of the steroid-soaked demimonde of juicers that ruined real baseball for awhile.
This is a simpler observation, honed by frequently watching the games via my flat-screen, high-definition TV. That unavoidably includes watching some of the people attending the game, sitting in the expensive seats behind home plate and along the sidelines between the dugouts.
The cameras that capture closeups of the batters or players on deck also give us frequent peeks at those civilians. It’s depressing. These “fans” are doing everything but watching the game, clearly not giving a flip who wins. Any game action short of a no-hitter or an inside-the-park home run gets at best a yawn, if they bother to notice at all. “They” include:
n Texters. They seldom actually look up from their mobile brain-numbing devices to see what’s happening on the field. If you surprised one of these dead-eyed texters by asking, “What’s the score?” they’d respond without looking up, “OMG, I have four bars.”
n Frantic hand wavers. Why do people get all glassy-eyed and wave their hands and arms so vigorously toward the TV cameras? Were they weaned on the addled tourists who act out every morning at the NBC Today Show plaza? Eventually some ball game wavers must hyperventilate or dislocate their elbows. I suspect Tommy John surgery is spreading among the spectators.
n Hair flippers. Apparently their tresses will fall out if they’re not constantly fondled. If their hair blocks their view of the game, no biggie.
n Perpetual motion offenders. These seem mostly to be females, although maybe I just notice them more. They traipse, sashay or parade past the camera more often than the infielders spit, going who knows where for who knows what reasons.
Are they visiting the person four aisles away with whom they were texting through the first four innings? Are they rushing to the concourses to find a place to recharge their cell phones?
One gets the feeling that whatever action these folks fancy is not inside the ball park. The game could be a 15 to 12 barn burner and these posing pedestrians might as well be attending a nil-nil World Cup soccer game.
Machete-wielding monsters could be disemboweling live dinosaurs near the pitching mound, but the fans who have the cash or the clout to sit up front would never notice.
Unless, of course, a friend who’s watching the game on TV at home or in a sports bar notices the prehistoric behemoths writhing on the mound and texts the news to her Twitter-obsessed peers at the game.
If they had a ball game and banned iPhones, iPads and such, would anybody show up to watch? If they also moved the attentive bleacher creatures to the box seats, would they still care about the game or hideously morph into tweeters, texters and hair flippers?
If there’s a ball game and no one sees it, does the score count?
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Don Farmer is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and CNN news anchor. He can be reached at email@example.com.