Friday, July 23, 2010

The piper calls out a different rhyme/He cracks the whip and we step in time

Looking at Wikipedia pages for minor league baseball teams, as one does, I came across this one, for the Lakewood BlueClaws. It has clearly been heavily modified by some extreme BlueClaws fan, judging by the excessively specific information about attendance levels and promotions and like that. Like what? Like this:

On February 17, 2009, the Lakewood BlueClaws announced that instead of doing just Monday Kids Eat Free presented by ShopRite, they will be doing Kids Eat Free every game of the 2009 season. All children under the age of 12 will be presented with a voucher for a free hot dog, bag of chips, and fountain drink as they enter the gates.

If you crammed the page of every minor league team with all the minutiae of every one of their endless cheesy promotions, you would very soon have countless thousands of words, none of which would be of any use to anyone except possibly future historians trying to piece together what the quintessential minor league experience was like. This bit stands out:

Each season a group of fans choose one person on the BlueClaws to cheer for, and in 2008, these fans chose third baseman Travis "Moose" Mattair. These fans, who called themselves "Mooseketeers" in reference to Mattair's childhood nickname, cheered loudly for both Mattair and the team in general. They are known for displaying homemade signs and jerseys, and their novelty moose hats were a regular fixture at FirstEnergy Park throughout the 2008 season.

The details of the promotions are pointless, but at least they're official things that presumably happened. Whereas I have to ask: was ANYONE aside from this small group of fans themselves even aware that this cheering section existed? What is anyone possibly supposed to DO with this knowledge? And does it actually count as history--as opposed to just data, like everything is--if nobody knows about it and it's totally unverifiable? The question of what Wikipedia is actually supposed to BE looms large here.

Here's something that happened at a Crosscutters game this evening that will never appear on the Wikipedia page (unless someone takes this blog post as a dare), but could, by BlueClaws standards.

There's this teenage kid that you often see in the stands. He is evidently mildly (but only mildly) developmentally disabled. He's always been fairly voluble, shouting "YEAH!" anytime any Cutters player hits a ball, even if it's obviously a foul or an easy pop fly. He also likes to pump his hands in the air to the chants and things that they run over the loudspeakers.

Today, for whatever reason, he was in an unusually manic mood. He was constantly on his feet "dancing" (which consisted of the usual hand-pumping thing while standing), and he was loudly exhorting everyone around him to dance, because, as he explained, you need to dance so the Cutters can win. At first, everyone regarded him with tolerant bemusement, but by halfway through the game, he had a few dozen people in the back of the stands entirely wrapped around his finger, leading them in dancing and clapping and singling out ("Hey! You in the gray hat!") people who were not being sufficiently enthusiastic, with which singlings-out his followers would loudly agree. His section of the stadium was very noticeably louder than any other section. He could have started his own little cult had he been so inclined.

It was Mexican Stereotype Night at the ballpark, meaning people in sombreros and cheesy mariachi music and like that. After the seventh inning, they had a thing where the Cutters' interns went out onto the field and danced to the Macarena. This was not meant to be a fan-participation thing, but our young svengali dashed out into the field and danced with the interns. He wasn't in any way attempting to do the Macarena, mind you; he was doing his usual dance, to the inaudible-to-most music of Pan. This was probably technically grounds for ejection from the ballpark, but that was obviously not gonna happen. The interns clearly thought he was pretty awesome, which he was.

The game was a rout; the Cutters won 7-0. I like to think that this is no coincidence.


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