(Via my Instagram)
Red Sox vs. Marlins, 6/19/12.
I like Instagram. I’m not much of a photographer - and I don’t consider myself one just because I use the app - but it’s really a perfect way to capture a moment from a baseball game. How many times have you come across a photo, filtered just right, on someone’s Tumblr and thought, “that’s swell.” Or, “I’d live to be sipping that beer and devouring that steak sandwich.” Or, “I like how the photographer managed to capture the essential Nihilistic attitude at the heart of the 6 - 3 ground out.”
The Wave*, on the other hand, is the antithesis of the Instagram baseball picture. It’s a monstrous beast that slowly develops as you sit helplessly in your seat with no way to prevent the hideous expanse of its power. And it can appear full formed in the time is takes for a 98 MPH heater to reach home plate. The Wave doesn’t capture a moment and let you revisit that memory forever, but instead coats those moments with itself so that the memory becomes The Wave. When The Wave swings back around and sweeps over your section, it’s like someone replaced that steak sandwich and ice cold peer perched perfectly on the Instagrammer’s lap with a mayo and spaghetti sub and a cup full of lukewarm dishwater. It seeps through the cracks of the crowd and settles like sewage among the peanut shells, food trays, and empty Cracker Jack bags.
Consider the situation: top of the seventh inning. Boston leads Miami, 7 - 5, with a runner on first. Bobby Valentine goes to the tall, lanky lefty Andrew Miller to face the suddenly hot Logan Morrison, who had launched one out of the park earlier in the game. The Red Sox are fighting to make their way out of the AL East Basement. The Marlins are looking to get back on a hot streak and make up ground in the competitive NL East. Baseball at it’s best - though baseball is always at its best.
And the wave breaks out. I watch, feeling much the same dread that Princess Leia did when she watched Alderaan get blown to meteor-sized pieces. The Wave washed its foul self over the stadium, and then repeated the act five consecutive times. It’s only until Miller gets Morrison to fly out to center, until the music signaling the end of the inning starts up, does the wave cease its terrorizing run among the crowd.
And that’s truly the most disturbing aspect The Wave’s nature: only at the interstices of innings - when no baseball is being played, no hitters and pitchers locked in ultimate struggles, when nothing is on the line - does the ideology of The Wave collapse on itself.
*We’ve written about it before.