Talkin' Baseball: Stop the wave
It's time to finally put the Macarena of audience participation activities to bed
All things considered, I think I'm a pretty fun guy. For instance, I almost always cheer for the obnoxious, good-for-nothing slobs to prevail over the rich, goody-goody snobs in ’80s teen movies. (The one exception is James Spader in Pretty In Pink because that slimy, two-faced prick is just so much cooler than Duckie.) Also, if you ask me whether I want the music turned up or down, I’m going to say “up” 90 percent of the time. (It’s only because my neighbor is a total jerk the other 10 percent of the time.)
I think my pro-fun credentials speak for themselves. But there is one thing I stubbornly refuse to do in the name of fun: the "wave." I am a vehement anti-wave sports fan. In fact, I think it’s a shame that “vehement anti-wave sports fan” isn’t redundant, because all real sports fans should shun the wave like they do Pete Rose, Tonya Harding, and people that complain about soccer not being more popular in the U.S. The wave is stupid, highly annoying, consistently ill timed during game-time moments, and—have I mentioned this yet?—just really fucking stupid. It’s the Macarena of audience participation activities—only people didn’t get sick of doing it after six months.
If I’m feeling charitable, I’m a little more tolerant of the wave if it occurs (1) after the 5th inning during (2) a blowout that (3) the Brewers are winning (4) against the Pirates, Nationals, or Diamondbacks. That’s an appropriately boring-enough game for the wave to be moderately entertaining in comparison. But even then, I think it would be great if people went to Brewers games because they were more interested in watching baseball than engaging in mass acts of basic calisthenics. But that’s not the way the world works. Every single Brewers game I’ve ever been to at Miller Park has had at least one wave. Every single one. I know there are plenty of other no-wave cranks like me, but they never seem to be there when I need them. I'd love to get a posse together the next time a drunken dickhead runs up and down my aisle—with runners on second and third in a close ballgame—and orders me to stand up with my arms in the air. I say we tie the guy up, put him in my trunk, and dump him off in Gary, Ind. Who’s with me?
Eh, probably nobody. It’s amazing how much pressure there is join in on the wave. In 2002, Tamas Vicsek of the University Of Hungary studied videos of waves at Mexican soccer stadiums, and found that it only takes a few dozen fans to spark a stadium-sized wave. Once it gets going, it typically moves at 40 feet per second in a clockwise direction, and is about 15 seats wide. (Doing the wave is a complete waste of time, but analyzing the wave is sort of interesting.) This is pretty much true no matter which sport the wave happens to be ruining anywhere in the world.
To understand how truly abhorrent the wave is, you have to go to the source: Krazy George, the self-proclaimed “inventor” of the wave. According to his website, Krazy George invented the wave on October 15, 1981 during a playoff game between the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees, setting a precedent for distracting simpletons from exciting baseball games that wave-doers continue to follow.
Apparently the origins of the wave are controversial, as some claim it actually began during a University Of Washington football game that occurred around the same time. For shame, U Of W, for shame! Krazy George—a man whose credibility is somewhat questionable given that he’s voluntarily affixed the word “krazy” to his name—offers a thoroughly exhausting defense on his website that cites several newspaper articles, “eyewitnesses” like Reggie Jackson and Ricky Henderson, and, most incredibly, a question about the wave from Hollywood Squares.
What’s most infuriating about Krazy George—aside from his title as “world’s most famous cheerleader”—is that he claims to have “performed” for 25 million fans in the last 28 years. You aren’t “performing,” asshole. You’re a big hard-on saying, “Look at me!” But I imagine that people who try to get the Wave going at sporting events similarly fancy themselves as performers trying, as Krazy George puts it, to turn fans into fanatics.
Fans gather in stadiums to celebrate something they collectively experience and enjoy. The act of going to a baseball game—as opposed to watching it alone at home—is itself a form of audience participation, and we go with the implicit desire (even need) to share our fandom with likeminded people. So, can you idiots cut the shit and let us enjoy what’s happening between the lines?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.