Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Psychological Warfare in Baseball

Okay, call me slow on the uptake, but I'd never really paid attention to the stats board at Fenway Park before. There's a whole game there unto itself.

We wound up at the Red Sox game last night, courtesy of hungrytiger and isisofcool, who had standing-room tickets but couldn't use them. It was a good, classic game: we were ahead for much of the time, but Papelbon managed to inject some tension at the end by being uncharacteristically shaky for a while. (It's isn't really a Sox game unless it's a nail-biter.) Our mission was to cheer on the returning Trot Nixon, who might be playing for the other guys right now but is still a Fenway hero. Fortunately, the whole crowd got in on the act: he got by far the loudest applause of anyone all evening, several times. (When he and his wife presented the Jimmy Fund Award, the crowd were on their feet for a couple of minutes.) He even had the crowd rooting for him loudly his first time at bat. Then he turned out to be the most effective member of the tribe, which quieted things down a bit -- everyone loves Trot, but no one wanted him to actually *win*. Everyone was fine with him getting hits, but runs left the crowd in conflict.


About halfway through the game, I noticed that the main stats board -- the thing that shows the current batter and how well he's hitting -- didn't agree with the Avaya advertisement board showing the same thing. And that was the moment that I twigged that the main board is there *mainly* to mess with the players and the crowd.

I mean, here you are, standing at the plate. Staring directly at you from across the field is this huge board, with your stats lit up. But baseball is a game of Fun With Numbers, and the board takes full advantage of that. If you're on the home team, and you've been on a hot streak (as most of the team has been), the board shows "Month of May (2007): .348" or "Career vs. Lee: .385". Never mind that your actual record this season is .263, the board will find *some* reason to cheer you up. Contrariwise, if you're a visitor, it switches to "Career with RISP: .204", regardless of the fact that you've been hitting .308 this year. Or if you're down in the count, it suddenly switches to "2007 w/2 strikes: .145".

It's rude, but kind of amusing. Somewhere, up in the booth, there is someone who is paid solely to mess with the players' minds; presumably the players are specifically trained to Pay No Attention To That Damned Board. An aspect of the game that wouldn't have occurred to me, until I watched it in action...
Tags: baseball, diary

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