Major League Baseball will start a short (60-game) season tomorrow, with weird rules (including universal DH and starting extra innings with a runner on second). The games will have piped-in audience sounds because they won't actually have audiences:
MLB is also launching an interactive website feature called "Cheer at the Ballpark" that will allow fans to cheer, clap or boo virtually, from home. The idea is that audio engineers at the ballparks can then adjust the recorded crowd sounds to reflect the fans' reactions.
So how exactly do they do it? We got a glimpse behind the scenes courtesy of Adam Peri, sound supervisor with the broadcaster Sky UK, who has his fingers on the pulse of Premier League matches.
During the broadcast, Peri sits alone in a tiny booth at Sky studios in London. He's the one responsible for punching crowd sounds into the feed.
In front of him he has a technicolor console loaded with a smorgasbord of audio clips for each team: dozens of chants — scrubbed of any offensive language-- cheers, boos, whistles and more, in varying levels of intensity.
Next to that is Peri's mixing board, with faders labeled "goal," "miss," "anticipation" and "angry."
The trick, Peri says, is that you've got to think ahead, put yourself on that field, and imagine what could happen before it does, so you can react in a flash as a fan would.
The bars in Wrigleyville will no doubt spread tons of Covid-19 tomorrow and Friday before the city-mandated closing happens Friday evening. I will stay away.
But the best news? This will be the first time since 1918 that the Cubs lose fewer than 60 games—but that season only had 131 games. You have to go back 110 years to find a season with 154 games when they lost fewer than 60.