Yankees 'Exploring' Usage of Crowd Noise At Yankee Stadium This Season
If you're like James Paxton, and a sucker for the sounds of the game of baseball, then MLB being played in barren ballparks this season wouldn't be the worst news of the summer.
In fact, as Paxton explained after his first time on the mound during Summer Camp in a hushed Yankee Stadium, playing in a silent venue is nostalgic, bringing back what these elite ballplayers used to hear on the diamond as kids.
As New York creeps closed to Opening Day – and friendly intrasquad games against teammates draw closer to the transition into meaningful contests in a 60-game truncated season – the Yankees are considering an audible way to make this season feel more normal.
According to veteran reliever Zack Britton, New York is "exploring" the usage of crowd noise for the 2020 season, potentially pumping the murmurs of a sold-out stadium onto a field surrounded by tens of thousands of empty seats.
"I think it's a good idea if they're going to allow some steady crowd noise to be pumped in," Britton said on Thursday, first revealing that the Bombers were grappling with the concept. "I think that would be good for the guys. Obviously it gets really quiet out there."
Across the first week of Summer Camp in the Bronx, the Yankees' star-studded player pool has slowly worked it's way from drills to in-game situations, prepping for the team's long-awaited regular season opener on July 23.
During the day, music blares in the confines of Yankee Stadium, hyping up the players and coaches as they go about their business on the field. Once intrasquads and simulated games begin, however, the music is cut down to a whisper, accentuating the clinks of donuts against bats and the dialogue between teammates.
"We have some music playing out there right now, very lightly while we're playing," backstop Kyle Higashioka explained. "It just kind of breaks up the dead silence, which is better than it was on the first day where we were just playing in an abyss, just a void of sound."
Britton believes "self-motivation" will be the key to victory this summer. That means those able to create their own adrenaline purely from the will to win – rather than feeding off fans in the stands – will be the most successful.
For what it's worth, the southpaw pitched in the no-fan game at Camden Yards in Baltimore in 2015, where between pitches it was so quiet that players could hear broadcasters commentating the game from the booth upstairs.
Other teams have already begun to test out crowd noise in their home ballparks. While the Yankees have yet to reveal any plans on the subject, or demonstrate what the audio would sound like at the ballpark, Britton is all-in and thinks his teammates feel the same way.
"I know they'll probably play walkout songs and things like that, but I definitely have heard of teams, including ours, that might be exploring putting in some type of crowd noise throughout the game," he said. "I'm not sure how loud it's going to be or what that's going to look like, but I think I think it's a good idea. I know our team would like that it would create at least some type of atmosphere in the stadium."
Not every player will need a buzz around them to get the job done. Yankees' rookie pitching coach Matt Blake joked ahead of camp that with ace Gerrit Cole, "it doesn’t take fans in the stands to get him amped." He proved that in his intrasquad debut on Tuesday, mowing down his teammates over five innings of one-run ball.
Even if Cole has elite intensity, he isn't alone. Paxton explained that when you have a job to do between the lines, it doesn't matter what's going on in the seats behind you or what you can hear from the field.
"I've got a job to do, I'm focused on what I'm trying to accomplish and that's 60 feet, six inches away," Paxton said. "I'm doing the same thing every pitch and giving it everything I have and that's not going to change."
To outfielder Mike Tauchman, all this talk on the changes and unprecedented circumstances players will face this season are bound to wipe away once it's time for the season to begin.
Then, it'll be back to what we all know and love: baseball.
"I really truly believe that once the real games start it's going to look like the baseball we've been playing forever," he said.
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