Posted by: Ryan | June 19, 2010

If This is Saturday, it Must be Portland

At the risk of sounding too much like a geezer, too finicky, there’s a lot that goes into me having a good experience at a ballpark. As you could have gathered by now, the game itself is secondary. Good games just kind of happen. But the location of the park (walking distance from a downtown is best), the music played – or not played – between innings, and the tenor of the crowd itself are not accidents. They’re products of the culture of the place, both within and without the ballpark.

The Reading Phils, who have the benefit of playing their games in a brick jewel of a ballpark built in 1951, would seem to have an insurmountable lead in all of the things that matter to me.

But I gotta tell you, Portland is pretty darn close.

What impressed me the most about the game tonight in Portland was the crowd: appreciative, informed, and engaged. They applauded productive outs (ground ball to the right side to move the runner along). They applauded good plays by the opposing team. And they applauded the opposing team’s pitcher, who got lit up by the Sea Dogs over his short outing, as he walked off the field. Not jeering, ha-ha applause. Thanks for trying your hardest, and better luck next time, son applause.

And here’s another thing: Portland gets the audio right. The announcer is folksy but succint. They do not play walk-to-the-plate music for opposing batters. They rarely play music between innings, and when they do, it’s at a good volume, one where you can easily talk to your seatmate, and hear those talking around you. Since I’m seeing a lot of games, I appreciate that Portland is the only place so far that did not play that irritating “Everybody Clap Your Hands” audio clip to motivate the crowd.

They didn’t need to. This is a baseball town. And I’m pleased to be here.

I’ll write more about Portland in the coming week. Tomorrow: Pawtucket, and the final leg of the Trifecta.

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Responses

  1. Nice report! Gotta get to Portland for a game, sounds like.

  2. Oh, yes: the sea, the “Maine Monster” in left, the lobster rolls, the room dispensing craft brews: it’s worth a trip.


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