When baseball began in Taiwan’s CPBL this spring, several of the ballparks put cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands to give the illusion that at least some of the stadium was filled, as shown above.
MLB games are scheduled to begin in one week. Ten of the 30 MLB teams have decided to do the same thing. Here’s a list of the teams and prices:
Dodgers: $149 for field level/loge seats. $299 for Pavilion Home run seats (outfield)/ Dugout club (behind the plate)
Mets: $86 through the team; $69 through the 7 Line Army
Athletics: $49 for A’s Access members; $89 for general fans; $149 for the ALS CURE project foul ball zone (If cutout “catches” a foul ball in the ALS CURE zone, that fan will receive an autographed photo from Stephen Piscotty. Proceeds will benefit the Piscotty family foundation to find a cure for ALS.)
White Sox: $49 (for first home stand only)
Comment: Come on, Dodgers, you’ve got to be joking. Most of the teams seem to have hit the sweet spot here, between $50 and $100, and in several cases (for example, the A’s as noted above, the White Sox, who sold out of 1,500 available, and the Brewers), at least a portion of proceeds are going to charitable causes.
The Cubs should do this. At the very least, they could raise some money for Cubs Charities, and the cutouts would look good on TV.
Teams are already going to have fake crowd noise:
#Reds Update:— Caleb Noe (@CalebNoeTV) July 14, 2020
Every team in the league will use artificial crowd noise this season.
It's mandated & supplied by MLB.
The crowd noise will come directly from the video game @MLBTheShow.
If you’re wondering how that crowd noise would sound in an empty ballpark, here’s an example:
The Mets are pumping fake crowd noise into Citi Field today, as they plan to do during the regular season.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 15, 2020
Judge for yourself (audio up): pic.twitter.com/iLViewK2JI
Joon Lee of ESPN.com spoke recently to some players in Korea, where they are playing in empty ballparks, and this was a typical reaction to fan-less games:
For a hitter such as Preston Tucker of the Kia Tigers, crowd noise often serves as an indicator of situational importance. The 29-year-old outfielder, who played for the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds from 2015 to 2018 before signing with Kia in 2019, sometimes found himself losing focus during at-bats early in the season because he wasn’t used to hitting without the noise.
“If there’s a big situation, you almost don’t realize it, it’s so quiet,” Tucker said. “You could be up with the bases loaded and two outs late in the game, and you don’t realize the situation until you walk up and you look at the scoreboard, and you’re like, ‘OK, this is really important,’ because you can’t tell the difference without a crowd.”
The Washington Nationals tried it out at an intrasquad game Wednesday and the reaction was positive:
“It was good. I got a great reaction from them,” manager Davey Martinez said. “We’re going to incorporate it during the season. We’re going to work out the bugs. First time we worked on it, but it’s definitely a lot better hearing that than hearing myself screaming or listening to everybody else talking.”
Presuming this MLB season is actually played to its 60-game completion — and I have my doubts — it’s going to be different than anything we’ve ever seen, or heard. Why not pump in crowd noise? Why not have cardboard cutouts at Wrigley Field and the 20 other ballparks that haven’t yet signed on to this? Make it feel as realistic as possible for the players.
Would I buy a cardboard cutout at Wrigley? Absolutely. Bring it on.