Does it belong at baseball games? Rockies and fans weigh in

For Brian Simmons, it was baseball blasphemy.

On July 4, the 47-year-old baseball fanatic from Conifer was sitting in his dream seats at Coors Field, perched 26 rows behind the Rockies dugout. The home team was leading San Francisco, 1-0, as the game entered the ninth inning. Closer Wade Davis was on the mound, trying to protect the lead and get the Rockies back to .500.

Suddenly, the wave emerged, swamping all fans in its path.

Perhaps the wave started that night because there was a party atmosphere brewing as the sellout crowd waited for the postgame fireworks. Perhaps the makeup of the crowd — lots of families, lots of casual baseball fans — had something to do with it. Whatever the reason, the wave crested at a critical juncture in what turned out to be just the 10th 1-0 game in Coors Field history.

“I couldn’t stand it,” Simmons said.  “Every pitch matters in a game like that, and the fans are doing the wave? Give me a break.”

Simmons is not alone in his sentiments. Yet there are plenty of others who say that hardcore baseball fans like Simmons should just chill out and ride the wave for the fun of it.

“I honestly don’t mind it at all, I think it’s kind of cool,” Rockies all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “If it’s a packed house, it’s really pretty cool. But then, if there is hardly anybody in the stands and a few fans are trying to do it, it’s pretty brutal.

“But bottom line, as long as the fans are being entertained and making some sort of noise, I’m OK with it.”

As baseball debates go, the wave certainly doesn’t move the needle like the issue of whether the National League should adopt the designated hitter. Yet there are plenty of staunch arguments on both sides. Those who love the wave, which long ago ceased being popular at most ballparks, figure its opponents are baseball snobs. Those who hate the wave are pretty sure its proponents can’t tell the difference between ERA and RBI.

Drew Goodman, the Rockies’ longtime TV play-by-play man for AT&T SportsNet, has found diplomatic middle ground.

“Fans should have the right do anything that does not affect the enjoyment of the game for others,” Goodman said. “I have no issue with the wave, though it is a bit passe.

“The only issue I have is if Nolan Arenado is up with the bases loaded in a one-run game and all of a sudden the wave breaks out. That’s bad timing. If something monumental or potentially monumental is happening on the field, and you’re doing the wave, you lose your baseball card.”

The wave tends to be thought of as a creature of football and soccer, but according to a 2013 story, the first recorded wave occurred in Oakland at an Athletics playoff game against the New York Yankees on Oct. 15, 1981. According to the story, the wave was organized and led by professional cheerleader Krazy George Henderson and was seen by a national TV audience.

Another account is more local. Krazy George himself was quoted in a 2015 Hockey News story as saying he originated the wave at Denver’s old McNichols Sports Arena at Nov. 15, 1979, at a Colorado Rockies game. That’s Rockies hockey, as in the former NHL team now called the New Jersey Devils. And the Rockies still lost 4-1 that night to the Montreal Canadiens.

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