Piped-in fan noise is the new reality for a 2020 baseball season that will be played primarily, if not entirely, in empty stadiums. Anthony Rendon, the star third baseman in his first season with the Los Angeles Angels, heard it for the first time during Wednesday's intrasquad scrimmage and thought it was "stupid."
He would prefer silence.
"Without a doubt," Rendon said. "It's like you have two of your senses that aren't coinciding with one another. It's like you're looking at a pizza, but you're smelling a hamburger. You hear noise, but you know no one's in the stands. You don't see anybody. I think it was dumb. I'd rather listen to music."
Teams throughout the league are expected to experiment with manufactured noise and cardboard cutouts as a way to make up for not having fans in the stands, a necessity given the social-distancing mandates prompted by continually increasing coronavirus cases throughout the country. Teams in the Korean Baseball Organization have utilized both this season, and Dodgers president Stan Kasten said last week that he expects piped-in crowd noise to also be used in Major League Baseball this summer.
"It's mostly really good for television," Kasten said. "The crowd noise, the slight murmur in the background on TV, is really a helpful element to games. I think it's what made those games [in South Korea] feel so familiar on TV. You're comfortable watching it because it feels familiar."
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner heard fake crowd noise during one of his Dodger Stadium at-bats and said it "gave me a little bit of adrenaline." Turner is hopeful that all stadiums will have it this year, but Rendon was much happier with the playlist that was utilized on Tuesday.
"We all loved the music," Rendon said. "We told them to turn it back on."