A young San Diego Padres fan waves for a ball on Luchador mask giveaway night at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Padres are returning home to Petco Park tonight after a long road trip. After being in enemy ballparks for the last ten games, they’re looking forward to some home cooking, and some hometown fans. How can we be the best fans we can be? Glad you asked.
- Being a good fan starts before you leave your home. Wear something with your team’s name or logo on it, or the name of the city. Wear the team colors. When you’re walking around the concourse at the game, it’s great to see lots of people supporting your team. Be one of them.
- Always cheer for your team.
- Never boo your team.
- Yell words of encouragement to your team. It’s not the player’s fault if the team hasn’t been good for years. He’s just one guy, doing his best. Booing is not going to help him do better. Especially if he just struck out to kill a rally. In those situations, yell encouraging things like “That’s ok, you’ll get ‘em next time.” That may help him clear his strikeout from his mind and focus on playing good D in the field this inning. Pretend it’s your son at a Little League game. Let him know you believe that he’s capable of hitting in big situations. 30,000 fans cheering for you and 30,000 fans booing you are both powerful. One is likely to create better results than the other. Let’s use our power for good.
- Cheer at appropriate times. Don’t wait for the scoreboard to tell you when to cheer. Pay attention, and you’ll know when the critical situations are. But why wait for critical situations? If Jedd Gyorko comes up with the bases empty and nobody on, but there are a bunch of fans cheering and yelling words of encouragement for him, he just might pop one over the fence. If he hears crickets, where’s the extra motivation to do well? Besides, it’s way more fun to cheer than to just sit there.
- If someone starts a “Let’s go, Padres” chant, join in. If enough people join in, the players will hear it, and appreciate it.
- If someone starts the wave, let it die. It’s unrelated to the game, and does nothing to encourage the players. Are you seeing a theme here? Your job as a fan is TO ENCOURAGE THE PLAYERS. Yes, you are there to have fun, but the event is not about you. It is about the players. It is about the contest between the two teams. It is about the game of baseball. You’re there, like hundreds of millions of fans before you, to carry on the tradition of baseball. So talk about baseball. Talk about the game. Talk about other games you’ve been to. Talk to the old guy sitting next to you, or even better, ASK him to tell you about the best game he ever went to, or his best baseball memory, or about great players he’s seen. You’re almost sure to learn something. And he’ll appreciate someone who’s willing to listen to his stories. It’s win-win.
- Pay attention. There’s a baseball game going on, and you’ve paid a fair amount of money to be there. You can text your friend about tomorrow’s party when you leave the ballpark. You can text your friend about Everth Cabrera’s steal of third base during the game. But be careful. He might steal home while you’re looking at your phone.
- Stay positive. Save the negative talk for your conversations outside the ballpark, or for a quiet conversation with your friend in the next seat. All it takes is one person to yell something negative, and other people will, unfortunately, follow suit. It takes several people to yell good stuff before the rest of the crowd realizes what they’re supposed to do. Maybe we’ve been conditioned to dwell on the negative rather than the positive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You’ve heard the expression “be the change you want to see in the world”? Well, be the type of fan you want to see at the ballpark.