Sunday night is going to mark a milestone in Philadelphia’s fight against coronavirus.
For the first time in more than four months, baseball fans will finally be able to turn on the TV and watch the Phillies take the field. No more “greatest games” replays. No more scrolling through Netflix desperate to find something new to watch. No more pretending you’re interested in Korean baseball.
Just a live Phillies game. At night. With actual players. All that’s missing are the crab fries.
Granted, it’s technically just a spring training game (in the middle of the summer), but having the Phillies return to the field this weekend will provide some much-needed normalcy to a city that’s been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.
Because there won’t be any fans in the stands, the Phillies (and all Major League Baseball teams) will pump in artificial crowd noise straight from Sony’s popular video game, MLB The Show. That might sound hokey, but earlier this week the team debuted the canned noise during an intersquad scrimmage, and most of the players and coaches seemed to like it.
“I thought it was good,” manager Joe Girardi told my colleague Matt Breen. “I’d like to see them maybe use different noises during the course of a game so it’s not the same noise all the time, but I thought it was good.”
I’m hoping the canned noise, which you’ll hear on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s broadcast Sunday night, won’t ruin the opportunity to hear all those random baseball noises that usually get drowned out by the crowd. The pop of the glove, middle infielders talking to each other, the first baseman jawing with the runner on the bag — the sounds you normally only hear in Miami when the Marlins are playing in their empty stadium.
I’m also interested in what the (newish) Phillie Phanatic will be up to. MLB is allowing mascots to attend the games, but they aren’t allowed on the field or in the dugout with the players. Whatever role he ends up playing, at least it’ll keep his mind off the pending lawsuit that may decide if he’ll remain with the team or be forced to return to his home on the Galapagos Islands.