Baseball is for the ambience

Imagine you are walking a dog, and you are not particularly paying attention to the dog unless it does something out of the ordinary, but rather you are enjoying the scenery and companionship. Once back home, it was not the dog walk you enjoyed, but all the things you saw and felt along the way. Welcome to the Mississippi State University baseball experience.

Baseball, as a whole, is a slow burn. By that, I mean your attention is not glued to the field the entire game, and the exciting moments have lots of build-up behind them. You are not watching every second of the game; you are conversing, debating whether or not to buy another drink or relaxing from your hectic daily life. If you ask me, it is the ambience for which we attend baseball games.

My baseball background is simple. Growing up, I watched "The Sandlot", I played baseball on Wii Sports and I cheered on the Memphis Redbirds a few times with my dad.

Although baseball was hardly part of my life, MSU baseball games evoke a sense of nostalgia for me. Much of my present life is convoluted with obligations, but baseball games are different. It does not ask anything of me  it barely even asks for my attention. It serves to lead me through a laid-back and non-demanding atmosphere, like walking a dog.

Knowing I am not a baseball fanatic, I took it upon myself to corroborate this opinion, so as to not horribly offend any diehard fans who still think back to the game three slaughter in Omaha. 

My investigation began with Haley Palmer, a senior communication major who works the scoreboard at Dudy Noble

“People like the environment of baseball,”  Palmer said, “it’s pleasant to sit outside for a few hours to enjoy the game. There’s not as much pressure to watch every moment, so there is freedom in that."

Palmer also went on explain why people like me — those uncommitted to the sport — enjoy the baseball atmosphere.

“People like the environment of the Dude because it’s high energy even when the game is moving slowly," Palmer said. "Last season I heard a visiting [family] say, ‘The Dude is like a party where there just also happens to be a baseball game going on’.”

This is the ambience I seek; the idea that I can move freely yet engage with the game at my leisure. Between hot dogs and beers, it feels like the game is a sideshow for my enjoyment, should I choose to enjoy it.

This “party within a game” phenomenon is common at many live sports, but not to the same extent as baseball.

Football, for example, is more high-energy by nature. Players are literally crashing on top of each other, tickets are more expensive, there are fewer home games and you have to get to the Junction really early for tailgating and the Dawg Walk. Even in the structure of the student sections, football absolutely caters to a more intense game day experience with the Davis Wade student section staring down the end zone. But during baseball games,  students sit in berms at Dudy Noble, bring a folding chair or risk it all and sit on the grass.

The camaraderie between students, the smell of grills and the sun on my face create such a relaxing atmosphere. I could take homework with me and enjoy the baseball ambience without feeling like I am missing out on anything happing on the field.

Ultimately, I feel like this is the center of MSU baseball culture. It is a time to kick back and enjoy friends and family, or homework in my case, and appreciate the ambience of a game that you treasure but do not feel an obligation to watch intensely. Craig Calcaterra with NBA Sports put it best.

“This is part of what's cool about baseball ... That you don’t have to be locked in like a fighter pilot for three hours. That you can let your mind wander a bit and take in one bit of wonderful ballpark sensory perception while letting another go for a second. I like to people-watch at games. I like watching the sun set over the first base stands in Comerica Park.”

That right there is my kind of baseball culture. Watching the sun set beyond the field, enjoying picnics in the berms, drinking beers in the Left Field Lounge and looking up every so often to see that exciting home run.

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