BOSTON (CBS) — For the most part, attending a baseball game is pretty much the same experience whether you’re sitting inside an MLB park or standing in foul territory on a high school field in the country. The MLB game presentation may have walk-up music and announcements, but during game play, the only sounds you ever hear are the natural noises of the game. The ball hitting leather, the bat making contact, a loud “steeeee-riiiike!” from the umpire and the like all work together to make the soundtrack of the game.
But today, the Red Sox are trying something a little bit different, as the team’s PA announcer is announcing the count between pitches at JetBlue Park.
“We’re going to conduct a small spring training experiment today in which we call the count,” Dr. Charles Steinberg, the team’s executive VP and senior advisor to the president/CEO, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller. “The PA announcer is going to update fans after each pitch about what the count is, testing a theory that some people have advocated that awareness of the count brings you closer to the game. And we’ll see if that’s a good idea on day one of testing.”
The Red Sox on Tuesday welcomed the Marlins to JetBlue Park.
“This ballpark doesn’t flood you with scoreboard information. It has a relatively small video board in right-center, and the traditional scoreboard which actually used to be at Fenway Park takes care of you to some degree,” Steinberg explained. ” But it’s something that’s been debated for more than a year at Fenway Park about whether we can enhance your awareness of what the count is. Because in recent years, there’s been such a greater emphasis on pitching in the count and hitting in the count, the difference between 2-0 or 3-1 vs. 0-2. So the merits of it can be debated, and they have been debated, but the one thing we haven’t done is actually try it in a test tube, and that’s what this game is today.”
Steinberg said it’s important to see whether the announcements alter the experience too much for fans.
“I think that if this has a chance of working, it can only work if it doesn’t interrupt the conversation and ambiance that we love at a baseball game. That may depend on one PA announcer to another, or this just may be a short-lived experiment. But we know this: Instead of debating it for more than a year in conference rooms at Fenway Park, let’s introduce the concept and you do that in the easiest setting, which is in our spring training testing grounds.”
Considering JetBlue Park is a replica of Fenway Park, Tuesday’s experience ought to give everyone present a genuine idea of how such a change would be if it were to happen in MLB’s oldest ballpark.