Stop talking and watch the gameWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A record crowd of more than 13,000 people filled Fifth Third Field for the Mud Hens home opener on April 16.
You would have never known it.
I say “people” and not “fans” because of what I witnessed throughout the game.
Granted, there were baseball purists in attendance, no doubt, with pencil and scorecard in hand, following the action intently.
Then, you had the social butterflies who fluttered around the stadium as if the Inverness Golf Club moved Downtown.
I made the joke the day before that I was going to count how many “fans” were texting, instead of actually watching the game.
By the time I left in the eighth inning to head back to NBC24, I only wished they were texting. Maybe they would have actually been in their seats or in the outfield picnic area soaking up the sunshine.
So many people were inside the upper deck suite area, you would have thought we were in the midst of a two-hour rain delay.
Walking through the concourse was an obstacle course full of bodies. I was making so many cuts back and forth to avoid crashing into Capt. Oblivious, I felt like a wide receiver running a route to get open down field.
Now, I am all for having a good time and a few cold ones, but this day is not about you.
As much as the person you were talking to loves to hear the latest edition of “How much ya bench” or how your portfolio is surviving during tough times, save it for the backyard barbecue. This is Opening Day.
This is a day for you to be the 10th player in the lineup. This is your chance to cheer on your home team in a city that hasn’t had a lot to cheer about in recent months.
The Mud Hens players feed off of the crowd and the excitement they bring to the ballpark. That’s where the term home field advantage comes from. How are they suppose to do that with you inside surrounded by 500 more people who could be adding to that advantage?
Let’s say, for instance, everyday jobs were treated like professional sports. Every day at the law office, thousands of fans show up to support you. They are chanting, “File that brief, file that brief,” or “Thank you lawyers, thank you lawyers!” After a while, you start to feed off of it.
Then, right when a big case comes your way, your fans, your home office advantage disappears to the break room, and they are drinking all your coffee.
That’s what I saw on Opening Day at Fifth Third Field. Hundreds of fans nose deep in a frosty beverage, paying zero attention to the game from the suite concourse, while the work was being done on the field.
Just remember who made this setting a social party again. You think Ned Skeldon Stadium would have been a beehive of activity on Opening Day with a franchise on the verge of another 100-loss season.
The Mud Hens success over the past seven seasons has brought the party back Downtown. Let’s not waste the winning when we have it.
There is major league talent on this roster, and you are watching it for a discounted price. The Mike Hessmans, Ryan Raburns and Brent Clevlens will not be in the Glass City forever.
All I’m asking is that you pass the love onto these players when you are at the game. The beer won’t run out. Your neighbor will still be there to brag about little Jimmy’s 4.0 GPA. And let’s face it, nobody’s portfolio is strong these days.
So, sit back for a few hours, let the Mud Hens do the work and let the sun hit your face.
It’s baseball season in Toledo, and the fans are just as important as the players.
Now, I just have to learn how to text message while wearing a foam finger.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor for NBC24. He can be reached at email@example.com, and be sure to follow him and Adam Meyer at http://twitter.com/adamryan419.