Christina Torrez is on the Woo Train and she ain’t getting off anytime soon.
Standing outside Coors Field decked out in a Rockies jersey, the Longmont resident talked about an in-game activity she enthusiastically participates in every time she’s at the ballpark: The Wave.
“Because it gets everybody excited and WOOO! I love it!” she said. When asked if part of the fun is seeing The Wave start to form on the other side of the ballpark, Torrez said, “Oh yeah, because you know it’s coming around to you and you get excited and it’s like, ‘Oh it’s our turn!’ and WOOO!”
That “WOOO” thing Torrez is talking about is typically what people say whenever The Wave approaches their section. They stand, throw their arms up in the air and let out a big – you guessed it – WOO. And when they sit back down, the next section does it, and the next, and so on, until it goes all around the stadium and back again and starts all over.
For folks like Torrez, The Wave is an entertaining diversion for a sport that can sometimes move at a snail’s pace and often exceeds three hours a game. For others, The Wave, especially for pitchers and baseball purists, it’s a sore subject to say the least. And – with tongue planted firmly in cheek – the debate around The Wave can be as fierce as those surrounding education, taxes and the role of government spending.
“It’s something that I think is a stupid thing in sports,” said Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland, who is not shy about his disdain for The Wave. “It’s something that can distract me. I don't need a bunch of people waving their arms as I try to execute a pitch. Fifty thousand people are following two people's ideas to get something going. In my mind, I think that’s kinda stupid.”
Freeland talks about The Wave like it’s his nemesis. And during an April 25 game in Philadelphia against the Phillies, it kinda was. Freeland, a lefty, says during the fifth inning, he saw The Wave coming down the first base line. So, he stepped off the rubber and waited for it to pass before throwing. Freeland says, when you do that, it can break a pitcher’s rhythm.
“I’m a pitcher that likes to work at somewhat of a quicker pace,” he said. “I like getting the baseball and stepping on the mound and getting going. And when I have to step off for something like that, I’ve grown in the game where I’ve learned, like, ‘OK, I can step off, I can take another breath, I can reset here’ and then go. I’ve found a way where I know where The Wave’s at. If I need to step off and take my time, take five seconds to let it go by, I'm gonna do it.”
Freeland’s not alone. Other pitchers have had choice words for fans who do The Wave, including former Mets hurler Noah Syndergaard, whose tweets on the subject are common and often hilarious. He once tweeted: “After more research, Children who do the wave are 5X more likely to drop out of school.”
Some ballparks have even taken a stand against The Wave, with Texas Rangers’ stadium Globe Life Field even prohibiting fans from doing The Wave. The San Francisco Giants’ ballpark doesn’t have an official ban, but it does discourage fans from doing The Wave – but that probably has more to do with the fact that the first documented Wave on U.S. soil happened at the stadium of the Giants’ cross-Bay rivals, the Oakland A’s.
Baseball broadcaster Jenny Cavnar is also anti-Wave.
“I didn’t know this was the hill I was going to die on in my broadcasting career, but I have become an advocate for no wave,” said Cavnar, who is part of the Rockies broadcast team on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. “It's just one of those things to me that will stick with me as a baseball purist. I've given in in a lot of ways, but The Wave, when it comes to pitchers, it just doesn't belong in the ballpark.”
Cavnar says that’s especially true during a close game.
“Like, a 3-2 ballgame, or a tie ballgame at Coors Field, late innings, packed house, Rockies on defense, it’s … AHHHH! I wanna scream! I do!” Cavnar said. “Listen, I'm fun. I’m not a no-fun broadcaster. And I have little kids and I want them to have fun at the game. But I will teach them that if you are going to wave, wave when the game is out of hand. And do not wave when your pitcher is on the mound in a tight game.Don’t do it.”
Thomas Harding, a longtime Rockies beat reporter for MLB.com, just had to chime in after eavesdropping on Cavnar’s anti-wave rhetoric.
“The wave is like the sunrise, it’s like a sunset. It’s like the ocean. It’s like a hillside. It’s always beautiful. It pulls you in, it doesn't kick you out. How can you dislike the wave?” Harding said near the Rockies dugout, leading to laughter from other reporters nearby. “Jenny’s wonderful, but I was dying a thousand deaths during this interview, a thousand deaths. The Wave. Wave forever.”
Meanwhile, pro-Wave baseball fans have a message for Wave haters: Chill, yo.
“They take things way too seriously, especially for a ballgame,” said Sonny King, who was visiting Coors Field from Florida. “Like, it’s a Wave. And you get mad at it? It’s supposed to be fun for the crowd and the players. Why get mad at it? Why get mad at people doing it?”
Sonny’s dad, Matt King, has a name for people who growl over The Wave.
“They’re crybabies,” he said. “Complete crybabies.”
And remember, folks, as Tom Hanks says in “A League of their Own,” there’s no crying in baseball.
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