Rock concerts not loud enough for you? Try a major league baseball game.

OriolesLast night, Mindy and I and our boys drove up to Baltimore to see the Orioles beat the Yankees 9-4.  The game was closer than the final score made it appear, was very exciting, and mostly well-played.  I really love watching major league baseball games. The pace is just right. I’m not on the edge of my seat at every moment but there’s more than enough action. In every game, remarkable athletes display extraordinary skills. Of course the same could be said about football but there’s a subtlety to baseball that is often missing from the gridiron.

On the drive home, Mindy commented on Oriole third baseman Manny Machado’s brilliant base-running. Describing a play within a play that utterly eluded me while it transpired, Mindy noted that after Machado hit an RBI single to left field with a runner on second, he turned toward second base and waited and watched. The instant Yankee left fielder Brett Gardner threw futilely to the plate, Machado advanced easily on the fielder’s choice.

We got very good seats on StubHub and given the quality of the game, I don’t begrudge the relatively steep price. I note that Camden Yards is one of the least expensive major league parks. Still, the Yankees were the opponents and that probably added $25 to the cost of each ducat.

My beef is not over the cost of the game, it is that after spending close to $100 per person for three hours of entertainment the experience should be well-nigh perfect. In one salient respect, the Orioles failed us miserably. From the moment we entered the ballpark at around 6:30pm, until we left over four hours later, the Baltimore ball club assaulted us with amped-up pop and rock music. It just kept coming from the rows of speakers that line every available wall on the grounds. It didn’t matter whether we were walking just beyond the outfield seats by the Eutaw Street food and beer stands, headed to our seats within the cavernous park, or in our outside seats. I couldn’t even peacefully browse the plaques commemorating past Oriole greats because of the ear-splitting sound bouncing off the Eutaw Street warehouse’s brick face.

The only respites came during action on the field. But once a play was over, the aural assault picked right up. Within innings between innings, it didn’t matter. The Orioles are hardly the only team to practice this form of torture on their customers. Otherwise fond memories of Coors Field in Denver, Citizens Bank Park in Philly, Nats Field in DC, and perhaps worst of all, the Mets’ Citi Field, are all marred by memories of deafening audio.

I can’t believe I’m the only person who finds the volume volley offensive. In fact, I’m sure many fans, like me, would go to more games if they weren’t likely to leave with a splitting headache. My guess is that the music offends many others even more since it seems that the selections are mostly targeted to my white male baby-boomer demographic – i.e., 60s, 70s, and early-80s pop and rock standards. The lords of baseball aren’t even considering fans of urban contemporary and country when making out their playlists.

So, why do they do it? Why do they inflict pain on all – even those of us who enjoy the over-familiar tunes? Well the answer isn’t hard to find or even a little bit surprising. Due to heightened stress and anxiety, people in ultra-loud environments, drink more, and they drink faster. With 20-30,000 or more people at each game and beers selling at a minimum of $8 per 16 oz beer, the resulting increased profits from loud music drive the teams’ behavior.

What’s the solution? Libertarians would argue there’s no problem. After all, they’d say, you’re free to go or not go to any event you like and the owner of the team is free to do whatever he likes and will result in the greatest profit. If he pursues a bad business strategy, he will lose money as people will gravitate to or even create alternatives. Yeah right. Anybody can just go ahead and build a new ballpark, fill it with major league players and crash the Major League Baseball party.

Obviously, baseball owners are maximizing their profits at the expense of the emotional and physical well-being of loyal customers/die-hard baseball fans. To prevent this exploitation, government must step in and set reasonably low decibel levels for all artificial noise generated at the stadium before and after the game and ban it altogether while the game is being played.

While we’re at it, one more thing that needs to be legislated: free or low cost tickets for the residents of the low-income neighborhoods that surround many of these playgrounds for the rich and famous.

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40 Responses to Rock concerts not loud enough for you? Try a major league baseball game.

  1. Shade says:

    It’s stupid you should have to, but bring earplugs. If you forget, dampen some paper towel, twist it up, & make plugs yourself. They don’t need to hang way out & look stupid. You’ll know if they are working, but periodically remoisten them & keep them packed into the ear canal to keep them at their best.

    The type of loud prolonged sound/noise you describe will quickly cause at least temporary damage. It can cause temporary or permanent ringing in the ears & poor hearing across parts or all of the audio frequency spectrum (due to damage to the auditory hair cells cochlea of the inner ear). The effects appear to accumulate & often become very noticeable in old age.

    Men in particular seem susceptible to this damage, though perhaps some of their perceived susceptibility is occupational. I suspect more going on though, because men also seem much more prone to cognitive issues in their old age (at least this is my experience). I myself already have some hearing loss, though for most of my life I have tried to be careful. I have always found loud noise painful, but I did play a loud baritone horn in school bands. I cringe when I see workers operating hand & other power tools without hearing protection. You even see this on TV on shows like on “This Old House”, etc.

  2. halginsberg says:

    Thanks Shade. Good points all.

  3. jeff linder says:

    You stated to your guest discussing white privilege that “You can’t price discriminate”. If it’s not OK for an owner to do it why is it OK for the government to force an owner to do it?

  4. halginsberg says:

    Jeff – I was pointing out that the law properly prohibits commercial vendors and service providers from charging more to certain customers based on race. Many examples of price discrimination are legal. For example, software providers require corporations and business users to pay for software that is free for individual use. Requiring businesses that get sweetheart deals from cities to locate stadiums in poor neighborhoods to provide low-priced and/or free tickets to residents of those neighborhoods does not run afoul of any federal laws and serves a very good purpose.

    • jeff linder says:

      Hal, can you give me an example of such a piece of software? Also, since there are usually more than 1 poor neighborhood in a city does a person have to prove that they live in that area? How big of an area? How would you determine eligibility of such a program? How would you eliminate fraud? There are many business that rely on “government” for their operation. Should the country club that your parents were a member of offer reduced rates for poor people? After all, the club received services supported by federal, state and local tax dollars.

      • halginsberg says:

        If I give you the name of software/a product that is priced differently for different types of users, will you change your opinion? Do you really think it would be that difficult to distribute free or very inexpensive tickets to people in one area of a city? Why does making expensive live sports venues accessible to poor people seem to bother you?

        If I told you that my parents were not members of a country club, would that change your opinion?

        • jeff linder says:

          Why don’t you just tell me what it is Hal? Why is your release on information always tied with the expectation that one must change their mind?

          As to your second point…if an owner of a business wants to give away tickets that’s their business. Why must it be legislated? Why stop at baseball games? What about any event that takes place in a public place? Should artists be forced to give away some of their artwork to the poor in order to set up a booth at the art fair?

          As to your third point…Let’s say they did. Should that country club have to give away memberships to the poor?

          • halginsberg says:

            1. The reason it’s relevant whether getting an answer will change your mind is that you’re asking a question – presumably for the purpose of gauging the strength of my argument. If I have a good answer, that strengthens my argument. If I don’t, that weakens it. If neither is true, why ask the question? Okay, one among many software products that is free for personal but not business use is http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2014/06/03/pixar-rendering-software-now-free-for-personal-use/. If you want more, google “‘free for personal use'” software”

            2. Your question: Why is legislation important? Answer: A) The free rider problem. B) No good deed goes unpunished.

            3. They were not. So the underlying hypothetical is mooted out. We did have a membership to our city’s public pool which anybody who lived within the boundaries of my hometown could join for free with an annual fee. I believe – but am not certain – that those with a significantly lower income level got a price break. That is how it should be.

            I don’t like private clubs but I wouldn’t mandate that they have to provide reduced cost memberships. Probably, they should have to open up their grounds – if they are nonprofit – to the hoi polloi a few days a year.

  5. jeff linder says:

    So the functionality of the software you get for free is not the same software you get when you pay. It can’t be used in the same way.

    And I love your comment…”could join for free with an annual fee”. Its not free…and even without an annual fee its still not free. Tax payers paid for it.

    Now the pool may have offered a reduced rate…but it’s not a private institution. From your description is sounds as if it was run by a local governmental agency. So once again…you choose a poor example.

    • halginsberg says:

      You write: “the functionality of the software you get for free is not the same software you get when you pay. It can’t be used in the same way.

      My response: From the RenderMan website: The next edition of RenderMan should be released to coincide with SIGGRAPH 2014, a computer graphics conference taking place in August. Pixar says it will make the new edition available free of charge “for students, institutions, researchers, developers, and for personal use.” There won’t be any restrictions such as time limits or watermarks. You can register now and then download the software as soon as it is released.
      Read more at http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2014/06/03/pixar-rendering-software-now-free-for-personal-use/#vMFEiRXLZTmmlhvs.99

      Of course, the club was open to all, why are you reiterating that point? It was run by the city. I did not choose this example. You did. You brought up the club that my parents belonged to when I was growing up. Finally, free to join means no initiation fee. You must have understood that point. On a broader note, maybe you can explain why your claim that commercial vendors don’t distinguish legally between various customers is relevant.

  6. jeff linder says:

    You cannot use the Free Version for commercial purposes. You aren’t getting the same thing.

    Wrt pool v country club. I brought up the example of a PRIVATE country club, you replace it with a COMMUNITY pool. Once again…you replace what people SAY with what you think will bolster your argument.

    My claim? I don’t recall making such a claim Hal. Maybe you think I said something that you attempt to reinterpret. Maybe you can clarify.

  7. halginsberg says:

    1) Software versions – Identical software is being sold to one class of users and made available for free to a different class. That’s what the professional sports franchises should have to do. Give away some tickets to one class of users while they sell different but essentially similar tickets to a different class. This is okay as long as you aren’t discriminating based on an invidious reason.

    2) Country clubs – you wrote: “Should the country club that your parents were a member of offer reduced rates for poor people?” I responded by pointing out that the public club – open to all – did as far as I know offer reduced rates to lower income residents of our town. I also acknowledged that I wouldn’t require private country clubs to offer free or reduced memberships but that I do have a problem with such “exclusive” clubs. I have not decided what is the best legislative response to them.

    Okay, enough of my views. Am I right in assuming that you would not require professional sports franchises to make available free or reduced cost tickets to residents of poor neighborhoods proximate to their stadiums? If so, why not? What likely harm do you believe would result from such a policy or program?

    • jeff linder says:

      1). Different but essentially similar? What does that mean? Why? What other business should be subject to such an edict? If there are no others why not? Tax breaks to businesses are part of the landscape. Should the auto plant that got lured to State X be forced to give away cars to poor people in the area around the plant? How far should that area extend?

      2). Why not? “I” would not require it since I have no legal authority to do so. The government can’t require it either as they have no authority to do so. What harm would result? Easy Hal, giving the government more and more power is a bad thing on its face. Where would that power end? Today it’s free tickets. Tomorrow its free groceries. The next is a free car….a free house. Trouble is…none of its free….someone else will pay for it. Tell me Hal, why should YOU or I have to pay money for someone else to see a ballgame. If you think its such a darn good idea why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? Find some like minded citizens and start an NGO to provide free tickets to the underprivileged? No need to answer…I think we all know the answer to that one.

  8. halginsberg says:

    1) Obviously they aren’t going to sell the same tickets that they give away. You’d have two pepole in the same seat.

    2) You are looking for excuses not to try to improve an unfortunate situation. Why?

    Jeff – I got a hand it to you. Nobody plays a pair of deuces like he’s got a full house the way you do.

    • jeff linder says:

      Hal, its not the government’s job to do the little things you want done that you won’t do yourself so you can crow about your compassion.

      • halginsberg says:

        It is our collective responsibility through our democratic government to ensure a decent life for everyone who lives in our nation.

        • jeff linder says:

          I see…you see it as a collective responsibility…not a personal one. Well…that’s no surprise to me. This way you can feel good about yourself by spending someone else’s money. But tell me, where does the government get the authority to tell businesses they have to give stuff away. And how can you justify that giving a poor person a ticket to a ball game ensures a decent life?

          • halginsberg says:

            Jeff – your argument is ad hominem in nature. You attack me for supposedly wanting other people to pay to solve problems, although obviously I would be subject to the exact same tax structure as everybody else. You also have very little knowledge of what my tax burden would be. I’ll go back to my most recent question: why are you looking for excuses not to solve real problems that lead to truly unhappy lives?

  9. jeff linder says:

    “….I would be subject to the exact same tax structure as everybody else.”

    Now there is a real good example of some weasel words.

    Your wife works…as a teacher. You don’t work. You are contemplating sending your son to a private school where tuition is $46 K a year and a room is $8K to $12K. Board is another $4K. Your income certainly doesn’t support that. I suspect you inherited a nice chunk from a relative. Father? Grandparent? Someone else paying that tuition? Do you own that million dollar house in MD or do you have a mortgage? You living off of investments?

    You’ve stated many times that you don’t have a personal duty to help those in need. So when you talk of “subject to the same tax structure” I don’t hear you calling for raising taxes on people in your income range…only those in the “top 1%” and the “massively wealthy”.

    You’re so transparent.

    • halginsberg says:

      Jeff – here’s the deal. You don’t care about your fellow Americans and you can’t believe anybody else does so you question the motives of those of us who want our nation to be a fair and just place for all.

  10. jeff linder says:

    So you still haven’t answered the questions:

    Where does the government get the authority to tell businesses they have to give stuff away?
    Where does that power end?

    • halginsberg says:

      Read your Constitution. What do you call corporate taxes but the government requiring businesses to pay a percentage of their income to maintain a civilized state?

      • jeff linder says:

        The power to tax is there. I didn’t ask you that. Where is the power to make a company give something away for free found Hal?

  11. jeff linder says:

    There you are wrong Hal. I do care and *I* do something about it. I don’t bitch and moan and whine that somebody else isn’t doing something I think is important. That’s what YOU do.

  12. halginsberg says:

    Jeff – Megaprops for caring and doing something. I’d love to know what you are doing because perhaps you’ve got a real solution that I’ve missed and should work with you or independently on. Regarding the question of government power to force sports franchises to give away tickets to the poor, can we agree this is legal? Baltimore City taxes Orioles. Government agency takes revenues from tax and purchases tickets. Agency distributes tickets among poor residents.

    • jeff linder says:

      What I do is my business Hal, not yours. Nor is what I do is something I would force anyone else to do through the power of government.
      WRT your idea of using tax dollars to buy tickets and give them away. Is that really a function of government? To provide entertainment to select individuals? Why stop at ball games? Why not concerts, plays, vacations, TVs? Game systems? I-pods for everybody!!

  13. halginsberg says:

    Thanks Jeff. We disagree as to what’s “[my] business”.

    • jeff linder says:

      Well Hal, if you’re unclear as to what is “your business” there is this short document call the “Constitution” that quite clearly defines what is the business of the government and what isn’t.
      Try reading it once. If you have any questions about what it means…just ask.

  14. halginsberg says:

    Right back at ya Jeff.

    • jeff linder says:

      Cute Hal. I noticed how you were unable to answer a question I put to you. Let’s try it again:

      WRT your idea of using tax dollars to buy tickets and give them away. Is that really a function of government? To provide entertainment to select individuals? Why stop at ball games? Why not concerts, plays, vacations, TVs? Game systems? I-pods for everybody!!

  15. halginsberg says:

    Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution – Congress shall have the power: “To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

    • jeff linder says:

      Please define what you think “General Welfare of the United States” is and how its measured. How is taking someone’s property and giving it to someone else provide for the general Welfare of the United States? Why does the Constituion lay out, specifically, what powers the government has if all it really needed to do anything was that clause?

  16. jeff linder says:

    And you still haven’t answered this:

    WRT your idea of using tax dollars to buy tickets and give them away. Is that really a function of government? To provide entertainment to select individuals? Why stop at ball games? Why not concerts, plays, vacations, TVs? Game systems? I-pods for everybody!!

  17. halginsberg says:

    I think it’s a legitimate function and wholly Constitutional Jeff. Why does the idea floated in the post bother you?

    • jeff linder says:

      That you think that providing entertainment is a legitimate function of a government puts you out of step with almost any sane person in this country. You views are on the lunatic fringe…at best. But hey…keep tilting at those windmills Hal.

  18. Voice of the 301 says:

    I disagree with Jeff. I think baseball, America’s past time, is more than just entertainment. Having the government subsidize tickets for people in low-income neighborhoods allows poorer individuals to enjoy their community, one that they otherwise would not be able to afford. Seeing that most “sane” people have no problem seeing the government spend $750k tacking on one extra day of school to compensate for a snow day, I do not see a problem with inviting the poorer members of a community to join in and cheer for the city they represent for a fraction of the cost. In the grand scheme of things Jeff, do you really think that the school day is more important, or is the $10,000 from the taxpayers, a mere fraction of an extra day of school, put towards tickets for the poorer yet equal members of a society more important. Food for thought…

    • jeff linder says:

      I would dare to say that all governments are required to educate by their constitutions and hence are subject to laws duly passed. Where in and state Constitution or in the US Constitution is the government empowered to fund entertainment for a select few?

      • halginsberg says:

        The Commerce Clause describes an enumerated power listed in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3). The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” From Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce_Clause

        • jeff linder says:

          So how does that power translate into buying tickets with tax money and giving them away or forcing a business to give something away?

  19. Andres Mendoza says:

    I want to refer to the problem of the sound level in baseball stadiums. Well I live in Venezuela and baseball is also the national pastime here. But although we don’t have the parks with the capacity you have in the USA, we do get close to twenty thousand at many games and when it is the final games we get sometimes around 25 thousand. But the noise here comes from the announcers of internal sound of the stadiums and they are ridiculously high. Can you believe I have obtained readings of up to 150 dB when you are thirty feet from the speakers in the ceilings? I live in front of the stadium in my town and inside my house I get readings of even 80 dBs and I am over 400 feet away from the stands. How’s that for loud sound? But yes, as the article says, that is business and the team doen’t mind if you feel good or not, they just want your money. Not only the fans drink more while exposed to that sound but because they are drinking alcohol and get emotionally involved with all that noise and calls for support of their team, they can stand all that noise as their hearing threshold goes up. I agree with your opinion that lower price tickets should be given to groups of lower income but I also believe the government should act in forcing teams to hold down the sound of the speakers.

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