Columns, Opinions, Sports

Schapiro ’19: Brown baseball deserves your attention for a day

By
Sports Columnist
Friday, March 15, 2019

Even if you love playing baseball, it can’t be easy to play at Brown. In less than three months, the team plays a 40-game season. The Bears fly around the country in February, from Kentucky to South Carolina to Florida looking for warm places to play. Then, in March, they settle back down in Providence and get into the heart of their schedule. Over Brown’s spring break, as most of us relax, the baseball team is scheduled to play eight games in nine days. And the players aren’t exactly recognized for their hard work: Last season, only 220 fans attended the Bears’ home opener, according to the Brown Athletics website.

This year, I’d like to make a request of the Brown community: Let’s change that. Let’s make that number higher. Baseball season opens today at 3 p.m. The stadium is approximately 100 yards from the Nelson Fitness Center. It’s even supposed to warm up to a high of 56 degrees. So please, let’s show up in force, and let’s give our baseball team the support it deserves.

If you’re already a baseball fan, you hardly need to be convinced. It’s a baseball game for you to watch, free of charge, blocks away — why aren’t you there already? The grass will be green, the crack of the bat will be thunderous, the camaraderie will be palpable. This is the stuff we live for. It’s not professional baseball, of course; no one said it was. But Brown is your school and our baseball team has a game, and if you’re a baseball fan, watching our team take the field for its first home game of the year is just about as fun as it gets.

And even if you’re not a baseball fan, Opening Day has something for you. Make a day of it! Bring a picnic and a blanket and set up camp in the stands. Students get in free, after all, so there’s plenty of space. Round up a few friends, hunker down in the bleachers and cheer for your school. And even better, it’s all too easy to celebrate the special occasion with themed snacks — CVS sells peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Trust me: This is the kind of stuff I know.

Caveat: Yes, it might rain. But Head Coach Grant Achilles says that a window has opened up in the forecast, a perfect window for a baseball game. Take him at his word.

I have been to several home Brown baseball games over my three baseball seasons here, and the fact is, support for the home team is often paltry. Usually you’ll find the same kinds of fans in the crowd. There will be lots of fans of the opposing team, for one, who somehow coordinated to take over our stadium and cheer obnoxiously for the visitors. Several of these fans will be wearing sunglasses and old, battered windbreakers in the visiting team’s colors. These fans will chatter nonstop to anyone who will listen — and many people who won’t — about how well they know baseball, how bad Brown is, what a joke our whole program must be, how laughable our pitcher’s motion looks, how improper it was the way our infielder just fielded that ground ball.

They’re almost always wrong, of course: They’ll bluster on and on and eventually you’ll realize that they have no idea what they’re talking about, and probably couldn’t tell an infield fly from a horse fly. They’re infuriating nonetheless, and I’ve only had to sit in the stands with them. But having to play baseball — to step into the batter’s box and tune out the rest of the world with ridiculous, inhuman focus on a ball rocketing toward you at 90 miles per hour or higher — while also listening to these opposing fans blather on uncontested? I can’t even imagine.

And that’s why we need to show up for our team. Baseball is a beautiful game, but it’s also an incredibly difficult one. All the unseen work that goes into playing the game successfully — or even making the attempt — deserves recognition, and there’s no better way to recognize our players than to show up in droves for the first game of their season. And the chance to vanquish the loud, obnoxious fans from opposing teams is just a bonus. It’s the best feeling in the world, but it’s just a little something extra, a reward fans sometimes get if they stick by their team for long enough.

So come on out. 3 p.m. Bring friends, food and game-ready baseball chatter, and come give our players a boost as they set out on the marathon that remains of their season. We only get so many opportunities to watch baseball, and even fewer to cheer on Brown teams in person. Don’t miss this chance to do both. I’ll be there — come by and say hello. I’ll be the one in the front row holding peanuts and Cracker Jacks, wearing the Brown baseball sweatshirt and cap. I’ll be chattering away in support of my team, occasionally looking around in frustration at bombastic opposing fans, but always able to contain my anger, suffused with happiness that I’m finally watching baseball again.

James Schapiro ’19 can be reached at james_schapiro@brown.edu. Please send responses to this opinion to letters@browndailyherald.com and op-eds to opinions@browndailyherald.com.