• Mets Baseball: Earplugs Not Required

    Posted by on September 27th, 2012 · Comments (0)

    Great stuff on quiet Citi Field via Brian Costa

    It seems like eons ago, but three months ago, Citi Field was buzzing. The Mets were winning, Johan Santana had just thrown a no-hitter and R.A. Dickey was on a stupendous run.

    But the Mets’ second-half collapse has turned their ballpark into a baseball morgue. The combination of horrid play and vast swaths of empty seats has created one of the most depressing sporting scenes imaginable.

    That got us wondering: Just how quiet is Citi Field these days?

    To find out, The Wall Street Journal purchased a decibel meter and traveled to a region where few Mets fans venture anymore: the upper deck.

    On Monday—a chilly night in Flushing—we reached the upper concourse just as the Mets were about to begin their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The atmosphere was post-apocalyptic, with most concession stands long since shuttered for the year.

    After a short walk toward left field, we settled on Section 525, which overlooks an area about halfway between third base and the foul pole. All of the more than 400 seats in the section were unoccupied. We chose Row 10, Seat 24, and turned on the meter.

    A rock concert can reach 120 decibels, and a momentous sporting event can be almost as loud. During Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston, NHL.com reported decibel levels of up to 118.

    Fans who attended Monday’s game were at no such risk of ear damage. As the Mets took the field to the sound of “Meet the Mets,” the stadium noise reached 80 decibels. The Center for Hearing and Communication lists sounds equivalent to 80 decibels as “pop-up toaster,” “doorbell,” “ringing telephone” and “whistling kettle.”

    And that was among the louder moments of the evening. As Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia threw the game’s first pitch, the noise level was 66 decibels. For most of the night, it held steady around 65, putting it in the same range as “washing machine” and “electric toothbrush.”

    The lowest decibel reading recorded was 58—two below “sewing machine.” The high was 95 (“electric drill”), which came after the second of Ike Davis’s two home runs in the fifth inning. But after several seconds of applause, the decibel reading was back in the 60s.

    More remarkable than what you can’t hear at Citi Field, though, is what you can hear. The thwack of the ball popping into the catcher’s mitt, the echo of an umpire’s called strike three, a hot dog vendor several sections to the right, a toddler getting restless two sections to the left—all of it is clear, undiluted by cheering.

    People who appear to be a few hundred yards away sound like they’re sitting next to you. That is, when they’re making noise.

    This really is a shame. Citi Field is a nice ballpark. And, there’s nothing worse than a nice ballpark not being alive with fans.

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