Why "The Wave" Epitomizes All Evil

And, no, I don't mean the high-school experiment in simulating fascism many of us remember from a book and/or TV movie encountered as teenagers.

I mean "the wave." You know the drill. Fans are enthusiastic for the first inning, cheering every strike thrown by the home pitcher or ball taken by a home batter. That enthusiasm generally wanes after, say, the first inning. Past that point, people settle into buying food, filling out scorecards, and striking up conversations with friends. They'll become louder if the situation warrants; if a defensive stop is needed or the team can bat in an important run.

As well it should be. Baseball, seen in person, is the most social of our major American sports (I'm told soccer is for everyone else in the world); those 3+ hours involve maybe a few minutes, at most, of actual runs scored, and the time in between is spent munching, debating, explaining, bulshitting, what-have-you. Unlike how my overseas friends describe soccer, the social aspect doesn't involve uniform participation (singing a song, waving flags, blowing vuvuzelas, etc.) Those things no doubt create a feeling of community, but American baseball is communal only when it wants to be; everyone cheers like mad for a home run. In between the moments of universal excitement fans are as involved as they wish or as distracted as they like. Among a group of six friends two might be talking baseball, two gossiping, one intently watching the batter's stance and the last one intently watching cleavage in lower sections.

If the game doesn't present a lot of opportunity for home fans to get excited, the JumboTron will try to motivate them at times. ("Make Some Noise!") But even if it IS an exciting game, we all know what's coming. It happens earlier in dull ones, but it always happens somewhere between the fifth and seventh innings:

The Wave.

It's the scourge of conversation (it's loud and distracting) and observation (it's loud, distracting, and you want to scream "Down In Front!") both. Now I don't mean to disparage fans who go along with The Wave; I get it, you're either bored or enjoying the mass participation.

But I do hereby decree as Deserving Of Execution anyone who STARTS The Wave.

We've all seen them. Generally they're frat boys who have run out of things to say around their dates (namely, "you're so hot," "I'm so cool," and "yo, dude sitting next to me, isn't such-and-such player a total homo? Can I get some high-five love, bro?") They start becoming justifiably paranoid that, in fact, after several hours of close contact, their dates are realizing they own all the intellectual capacity of dryer lint, and look for some new method of drawing attention to themselves. Invariably this involves standing up, spilling a beer on someone, turning around and entreating innocent fans behind them to "start a Wave, you pussies!" (Whether this invocation succeeds in restoring their companions' romantic interest, I cannot be sure, having never attempted the experiment myself.) A few equally worn-out attendees (maybe the game stinks, maybe they aren't all that interested in baseball) will comply, and hence The Wave begins.

I read on Wikipedia that in Australia, The Wave is banned from all rugby matches, and those trying to start one are ejected from the stadium. This strikes me as the sanest, most rational restriction ever enacted in the history of professional sport.

Imagine "The Wave" in the seventh inning of a no-hitter. You're trying to see where the catcher is holding his glove for the oncoming pitch and suddenly everyone in front of you stands up. You would be annoyed.

I submit that it's just as annoying in a blowout, or one played by a team with no hope of rising in the standings (such as, um, ah, well . . .) There are still people in the stands who want to watch the intricacies of the game. If you don't, no-one's forcing you. Text and tweet and socialize away to your heart's content. (I can ignore even the dumbest loud conversation if I'm focused on the field.) But if you start The Wave, you're requiring everyone to do what you find interesting, and getting in the way of what they find interesting

That's not what going to a game in person should be all about.