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Washington Nationals talk pumping crowd noise into empty parks for 2020 MLB season

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Will Nationals Park be filled with not only the sound of the game, but fake crowd noise when baseball starts up again later this month ... assuming it does?

Washington Nationals Summer Workouts Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

According to a report by Eno Sarris at the The Athletic Friday morning, “Major League Baseball will be supplying teams with pre-recorded crowd noise to pump into fan-less stadiums,” during the 60-game MLB season. Not great, MLB. Not great.

[ed. note - “Also starting a runner on second in extras is awful.”]

MLB will be supplying crowd noise options, and apparently, says one executive quoted anonymously in the piece, companies are springing up to meet the needs of organizations who are afraid the sounds of the game won’t be enough for fans who tune in to baseball’s planned return (during a pandemic) later this month.

Former Washington Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon, (now with the Los Angeles Angels, and always a fount of wisdom when he chooses to offer his own thoughts on a topic), summed up what is wrong with this idea fairly succinctly when he was asked about pumped in crowd noise in a press conference with reporters on Thursday.

Current Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said the club is weighing their options when it comes to crowd noise, when he spoke with reporters in the nation’s capital on Thursday.

“We talked about it, you know,” Martinez said, before quickly pivoting to his message for his team when it comes to playing in empty parks.

“My big thing with them is we’ve really got to focus on each other and keep that energy, and focus on playing the game.

“I try to tell them all the time, I said, ‘Hey, our fans are going to be watching. Our games are going to be on TV.’ So they’re still somehow going to watch all the games. So just come ready to play and I know it’s going to be different. It’s going to be a lot different, because I’m sure people are going to be able to hear me think and I can’t say some of the things that I’d normally say, because it’s going to be loud.

“I tell them just keep in mind, it’s still baseball. Gotta hit the ball, gotta catch the ball, gotta throw the ball, and let’s focus on just what we need to do to be successful.”

But, will they be using artificial crowd noise?

“We’re throwing a lot of things out there,” Martinez said.

“We haven’t come to a final conclusion yet, but we’ll see. I’ve been talking to players about different things, and we’ll see what transpires.”

Adam Eaton’s not sure about the simulated crowd noise thing, after he was a part of a fan-less game when the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played one in Oriole Park at Camden Yards back in 2015, going 0 for 3 with a K in that matchup.

“That’s tough,” Eaton said of the choice teams will have to make regarding stadium noise.

“I don’t really know. I will say this. If I had to pick one side, I think anything would help. That day I don’t believe there was even [walkup] music, there was nothing.

“It was just straight go out there — it was worse than a backfield Spring Training game, is what I remember. And so I think any noise will help. Any type of — I know with the soccer teams they’re playing crowd noise. On TV they’re playing crowd noise.

“Even if we have that buzz of the stadium, I think that would help, personally, just again, to get our minds off of, like I said, the pandemic, and why there’s no people in the stands, and like I said, kind of that lull in baseball.

“We’ll see. I know teams have been very creative in other senses of putting plastic cutouts and whatnot in there. So like I said, try anything at this point, I think.”

There’s also the question of how silence in the game will affect communication during the game, between players, managers and their own team, and more. Martinez said he wasn’t really concerned.

“Well, you know, one I’ll probably be wearing my mask, so you won’t be able to read my lips,” he explained.

“But other than that, we’re always looking in other teams’ dugouts to see if we can pick something up or something. So, I’m sure it’s going to be different.

“We’ll see what teams do to hide their signs or talk to players.

“I think our signs are pretty good. I talked to [Third Base Coach] Chip [Hale] already about it. I talked to the players a little bit about signs and stuff, but for me, like I said, it’s just about going out there and focusing on the game, focusing on the moment and going with that.”

Martinez updated reporters on the club’s thinking on pumped in noise when he spoke again on Friday afternoon.

“We haven’t really decided what we want to do yet,” he reiterated.

“There’s talk that we could pump in some crowd noise, but we’ll see. It’s definitely going to be different. Like I said yesterday, we’re going to miss the 26th man, which is our fans.

“So it’s going to be different. When it comes to say — I’ve got some goofy coaches, we’re going to come up with different things to try to keep our — I told them we’ll all wear face masks and we’ll whisper, and things of that nature, because I know the eyes are going to be on us and we’re going to have our eyes on the other dugout and see what we can pick up.”