Tech And COVID-19: MLB Rolls Out Remote Cheering Function In Its MLB App

from the 3-cheers dept

As we continue navigating this new world full of COVID-19, mostly alone due to the laughably inept response from our national leadership, there's a certain humor to the ongoing push for a "return to normalcy." What makes it so funny is how completely clear it is that "normalcy" is going to be anything but normal. Go back to work, but wear a mask and stay the fuck away from your coworkers. Get your kids back to school, but maybe not, also masks, and remote learning, and they have to eat their lunch in their classrooms. Restaurants are open, but only outside, with less people, and there will be temperature checks.

And then there are the sports. Collegiate sports are shutting down with the quickness, but the professional sports leagues are opening. The NBA is back, but only in Orlando, which is basically coronavirus ground zero. The NHL is coming back, except a ton of players are testing positive.

And then there's baseball. Yes, Major League Baseball is back, but masks make an appearance and, most importantly, there are no crowds. If you aren't a baseball fan, I'll forgive you for not understanding this, but crowds are a huge deal for baseball. Part of the ambiance of the game, be it in person or on television, is that low level din of crowd noise, vendors yelling out, and the like. Not to mention the roar or boos of crowds during peak excitement. With no crowds, the soundtrack of the summer is just the lead singer with no instruments backing him or her up.

MLB's solution to this was to pipe in crowd music. With audio files at least in part from Sony's MLB The Show video game series, teams were encouraged to add their own flavors to the audio files and then pipe them into stadiums. This helped, of course, but how was the crowd noise supposed to artificially change based on what occurs on the field?

Turns out that MLB actually has a solution for that. And it's awesome.

Fans will have the opportunity to boo the Houston Astros during the 2020 Major League Baseball season after all.

As Darren Rovell of Action Network shared, the league will incorporate how many fans are using its app and cheering or booing a specific team into the piped in crowd noise it will use in empty stadiums amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Very cool. Essentially, MLB's app will let users note which team they're supporting and then allow them to "cheer" or "boo" via the app. Their choices will then be reflected in the crowd audio that is piped into the stadium and heard on television broadcasts. Staff at the stadium will reflect viewer choices in near real time.

"Ballpark staff uses the 'real-time' fan sentiment to control/vary noise variation/levels at the ballpark," is how the league described how teams will use the feature.

It won't exactly be the raucous environments of Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, but it is at least a way for fans to express their loyalties while they are watching from home instead of the bleachers.

I love this sort of thing. Still, one wonders if MLB is prepared for the potential of rival fuckery. After all, it might just be possible to setup an automated system that created a bunch of accounts for a rival team and then simply choose to boo all the time, ruining the broadcast. Hopefully the league has a method to guard against that sort of thing.

But if they don't, this is me soliciting a guerrilla hacking group so we can go screw around with White Sox crowd levels.

Filed Under: baseball, covid-19, crowd noise, crowds, fans, pandemic, simulated noises
Companies: major league baseball, mlb


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Jul 2020 @ 6:09pm

    pththththtththt

    I am wondering if the app will have a Bronx Cheer button and if that will be discernible in the broadcast? It is a useless process if the color doesn't come through. And what about concerns about the umpires? If those aren't audible then we will have to question whether the game is fixed or not. Will the 'beer heer' and 'get your red hots' and 'peanuts' or 'popcorn' or 'crackerjack' be interspersed with the booing and cheering?

    This is plainly a weak attempt at making things seem normal when normal is a long way off. Or, it is a play for money, paid eyes on a Video screen rather than bodies in seats is better than nothing.

    But will ephemeral excitement be satisfying?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2020 @ 8:11pm

      Re: pththththtththt

      This is plainly a weak attempt at making things seem normal when normal is a long way off.

      I'm kind of wondering what happens if this becomes normal. Could it replace actual booing and cheering, such that people would feel comfortable clicking a button but not actually making the sounds? Will the meanings of the "virtual" and real actions diverge, like how people type "lol" for things that no sane person would actually be laughing out loud at?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 21 Jul 2020 @ 8:44pm

    I watched a bit of a preseason baseball game. It was pretty weird with the cardboard fans and piped in fan noise. Kind of depressing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Jul 2020 @ 10:37pm

    Meaningless sports punctuated by fake cheers. Film at eleven.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2020 @ 7:57am

    This is there opportunity then to have a baseball chaos mod controlled by viewer vote.

    This i would watch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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