There’s one thing that all fans of Major League Baseball were looking forward to this season. What’s that thing? Booing the Houston Astros. This, of course, does not include most Astros’ fans, but I’m sure there are some who would like to voice their displeasure, and now they can, along with many other disgruntled baseball fans.
How can they do this?…
Virtually, of course.
A Bit of Backstory
So, if you do not know, or don’t care about baseball (or any sports for that matter) and have no idea who the Astros even are, I’ll fill you in on the deal. So why are the Astros public enemy number one in baseball? The Astros were caught cheating—stealing signs more specifically—and cheating as you hopefully know is for the most part shunned in our society. And one of the things that people do to show their displeasure with cheaters, liars, and generally dishonest people, is boo them. Baseball fans wanted desperately to boo the Astros to let them know just how wrong their choices were. Then COVID-19 happened. Baseball went away and so did the boos. But now, Major League Baseball has returned and the foremost thought in the avid—or even mildly interested—fans’ mind is, how can I boo the Astros?
Cheering and Jeering
It is not just about booing the Astros. Sure, that is one thing that you can do through Major League Baseball’s newest feature, but there is so much more. The feature, which allows fans to cheer and yes, boo, for their team, or the opposing team, is to be launched on Opening Day (Today). The feature is accessible through the MLB website, team websites, the Gameday App, and through social media links.
Once the fan is on the site, App, or has clicked the proper link, the “cheering” feature can be found beside the score graphic (box score for you senescent fans). They can then “voice” their approval or displeasure by clicking how they really feel inside. Then, the scoreboard operator at the stadium will receive the votes through a live interface that mirrors fan responses. The operator can then acclimate the fictitious fan noise into the ballpark.
Another feature that will be available when logged in is the ability to see how fellow fans are voting. Different icons depicting the sway of the vote will float across the screen. Similar to, say, clicking the fire emoji when watching somebody’s story on Instagram, thusly causing fire clusters to take over the screen for fleeting seconds. Lastly, fans will also be able to see what percentage of those participating are, for example, rooting for the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers; for example, 60% for the Giants as opposed to 40% for the Dodgers.
More to Come
This is not the only thing that the MLB has in store for fan participation during the shortened 2020 season. Teams are hoping to stream various pre-recorded ballgame activities that normally would have taken place between innings. Entertainment features will range from mascot races, to “which hat is the ball under?”, to the seventh inning stretch sing along, “Take Me Out to The Ballgame”. One feature that is sure to not be included is guessing the attendance at the park, which might be a bit easy: 0, 0, or 0? Also, the MLB is hoping to expand the scoreboard operators’ duties to “ballot counter”. This feature will allow fans to vote for their favorite song, GIF, or video, and then see, or hear it in ensuing innings.
Sports, and sporting events, are ultimately about community, whether rooting for or against a team. COVID-19 has taken away the physical part of that community. In the case of baseball, or any sport, one of the great joys of being a fan is attending the game and having the opportunity to express yourself. Sure, you can sit at home and yell at your TV, but there is no way to know if anybody else is yelling at their set along with you. Now with this new “cheering” feature, the MLB has given the engagement back to the fans and reconnected a community that was fractured. Sure, it will not be the same, but who knows, it could be better. And one thing is for sure, you can boo the Astros.