This past Wednesday the Los Angeles Times ran an article by David Wharton about the stop the wave movement at the Ballpark. In the article Wharton describes perfectly one of my main problems with the wave.
It isn’t like the all those USC alumni flashing the victory sign when the band plays “Tribute to Troy.” It isn’t like the cowbells at Mississippi State or “the chop,” in either its Atlanta Braves or Florida State incarnations.
Those traditions are connected to the action on the field. Those fans can make the argument they are rooting for their team.
The wave exists independent of home runs or touchdowns. It can be roaring along at the exact moment that misfortune befalls the home team — sometimes the crowd abruptly stops cheering, sometimes it doesn’t even notice.
That puts the wave in a subcategory with beach balls in the stands at Dodger Stadium or droning vuvuzelas, the South African horns that made the 2010 World Cup sound as if it were played inside an enormous bee hive.
The Rangers and Mariners were playing a game Wednesday that was tied 3-3 in the seventh inning. After the Mariners scored the go-ahead run a wave started going around the Ballpark. The Mariners were now up by a run and still had men on first and second with one out. But those people doing the wave didn’t care what was going on, they just had to entertain themselves.
That is what Wharton meant, the wave had nothing to do with the game at the point. What did it matter that the Rangers were trying to win an important game? As long as those doing the wave could stand up in unison every minute or so, they were happy.
There’s a long way to go to get the people doing the wave in the seventh inning of a close game to understand why it’s a bad idea. Hopefully the attention the movement’s received over the last couple of weeks and signs like those that are displayed at the Ballpark can help them out.