Opening Day is special. It comes only once a year and, after looking forward to it all winter, people tend to treat it as the holiday it is. They stay home from work, drink beer, grill out, and have an overall grand time. But holidays aren't all sunshine and rainbows. There's drunkeness, belligerence, and flat-out unpleasantness in just about any large gathering, and, in that, Opening Day takes the cake. After five straight Opening Days here in Milwaukee, I still get a major kick out of the festivities and the official start to the Brewers' season. I can, though understand entirely those who decide to sit it out. "Amateur hour" is an apt description of many of Opening Day's denizens.

The night after Opening Day, unofficially dubbed "Opening Night", is a very different story. With so many fans tapped out from Opening Day – the only day in April where it's perfectly acceptable to start drinking at 9am! – the crowd for Opening Night is always much smaller and more baseball-focused. The spectacle of Opening Day tends to take on a life of its own, so it's a pleasant change of pace to see 20,000 fans there solely to watch the game instead of 45,000 there to get drunk.

It's all the better when your Opening Night starter hurls a gem of a game like Yovani Gallardo did Tuesday night. In a complete-game shutout, Gallardo limited the Braves to two hits all game, spreading them out in the first and eighth innings. He also walked and struck out two – the ball was on the ground almost all night it seemed. As the eighth inning ended, Gallardo had a 1-0 lead with only 97 pitches thrown and the 8-9-1 spots in the order coming up. It didn't take long to figure out that new manager was staying with his ace for the ninth: the Brewers' bullpen was awfully quiet during their half of the inning. The move worked out, as Gallardo made short work of Atlanta and close out the game.

The only thing that could put any damper on such a fantastic evening (besides Prince Fielder's inability to hit the ball farther than 90 feet) happened two feet in front of me during what should have been the game's high-mark. As Yovani battled Eric Hinske and Freddie Freeman to start the ninth, the "gentlemen" in front of me stood up to cheer on Yovani. But this wasn't the standard "everyone stands with two strikes" maneuver. This was the first batter of the ninth inning, and the group were clearly preparing to stand for the full inning. Calls from the seats behind me started immediately, asking in no uncertain terms for the young men to sit down during the game. Gallardo was trying to strike out Hinske, after all, and no one wanted to miss a pitch.

The standing group succeeded in tuning out the fans behind me, ignoring them as they cheered. It helped that Yovani made short work of Hinske. With only two outs to go, people were more comfortable giving in and standing. When Martin Prado grounded out to shortstop Craig Counsell to give Gallardo the shutout and the Brewers their first victory of 2011, the park erupted. Fans cheered, clapped, and high-fived total strangers. The group in front of me were ecstatic. It's not the playoffs, but these games still mean something.

I bring this story up because I'm curious about how others would have reacted in my place. Personally, I see both sides. In an ideal world, when your ace pitcher is coming out to pitch the ninth inning of a 1-0 game, the crowd should rise to their feet and make noise for the full inning, cheering every pitch and otherwise supporting the team as loudly as possible. This is obviously what the group of kids in front of me had in mind. If I knew I wouldn't be blocking anyone's view, I would, without a doubt, stand up to watch the game along with them. But not everyone has the desire or even the ability to stand for long periods of time. As the people sitting in the front row, you have a responsibility to the fans behind you. Standing up in your seats blocks the sight of rows and rows of people. If they don't want you standing there, it's only polite to change your tact.

I've seen this exact same situation come nearly to blows before, but thankfully that wasn't the case tonight. What, though, should the proper reaction have been? Would you have done something different? And how rigid of a "ballpark rule" is this (breach of) ballpark etiquette? I await your input.

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I was at a game once where I stood with two outs in the 9th and the people behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to sit. I just looked at them and said "there are two outs in the 9th!?" and turned back around. If there had been no outs I woulda sat back down but would have thought the people were fairly lame. I also, along with many if not most fans, tend to stand up during exciting plays. If you go to a game and expect to be able to see the whole thing without ever standing up you just don't get how crowds at games work.
Thanks, everyone, for all the thoughts. I have a few more stories I could share, but they wouldn't be much different than everyone's else's. Like I said, I'm always inclined to side with the fans standing up. Like someone said here, you're at the ballpark to enjoy the game. Part of that is getting up and cheering when it's appropriate. But I am a bit of a pushover when it comes to the crowd, and if they're particularly vocal against it, I'm bound to give in. Ideally, though, I'm with everyone here. Root for your team!
I think standing up during the actual pitcher-batter confrontation is poor form anytime before the last out of a game - especially if you are sitting in a front row. Standing up as a reaction to a great play is fine, assuming you're back in your seat for the next pitch.
I love standing up for the entire 9th inning if the rest of the fans in my section will join me as well. You gotta figure all of that out during the whole game to determine if its safe to get up. But as always, alcohol will change everything and may make you a little more willing to attempt to get everyone standing.
Similarly, when there's going to be a play at the plate, everyone stands up, although everyone would see it fine if they all remained seated. If you're old and craeky and can't stand up quickly, you miss the play. People react differently to such stimuli, and like it or not, we kind of have to all meet each other halfway.
Given the situation (Gallardo going for the shutout, 1st win of the season) I think it was fine to stand and cheer. I wouldn't necessarily have done it on my own, but certainly would have if people in front of me had done so. Now, if it's a 6-3 game in June against the Nationals it's a different story.
So, the more important the game or the situation, the more justified it is to interfere with others' ability to see the action. But if the action is meaningless, then by all means don't impede anyone's view of it. Just weird.
Add in the extra anticipation for this particular Brewers' season and the painful way they lost most of their first four, and there's extra anxiety.
I can see the point of wanting to be able to see the action, but on opening night when your ace is trying to finish a gem, I don't fault the young men for standing. I've had similar situations-- In 1991, my friend and I (we were 21 at the time) were yelled at to sit down when we stood up for two strikes with two outs in the fifth inning of a Twins/Blue Jays playoff game. That same friend and I were nearly beat up by some older drunk men at a MN Strikers indoor soccer game. We were there with our high-school friends, having a good time cheering for the Strikers. The belligerent drunks in front of us told us to sit down and shut up. It got to the point where the two men were physically threatening us. Fortunately a very large man behind us stood up and very calmly told the drunks to "Leave the kids alone. They're just enjoying the game." His size and tone drove the drunks to seats far away. If not for that man, some of us would have had to fight with the drunks over happy cheering at appropriate moments. On Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints tour, the upbeat music started and the crowd rose to its feet, but very shortly thereafter our upper deck section sat back down. Being 20 at the time, my group kept on dancing. We were finally harassed into sitting and politely listening to the driving, throbbing music. I think we've become used to passively enjoying events and life, when we should be caught up in certain moments, as the young men last night were. I think those of us who want to sit quietly (and that's me, a lot of the time) should utilize the television and leave the actual event for people inclined to paint their faces, hoot and holler, and stand and cheer. When the situation isn't conducive to standing, someone can politely point out the proper thing, e.g., tell the boys, "We're all excited, and when we get to the last batter, I'll join you in standing; but for the moment, could you please allow the rest to see?"
To me that's a no-brainer situation: sitting down should be frowned upon! In general, I've found myself in both camps as well... I like to be able to sit and enjoy the game, so excessive standing can be obnoxious. On the other hand, if I wanted solely to watch a baseball game with no interruption, I'd watch it from the comfort of my home. If you go to a baseball game, you'll run in to baseball fans, and some of them will interact with the game differently than you. If you don't want to be bothered to stand up, stay home.
Larry, what is the condition of your lawn, specifically regarding youngsters on it? I kid I kid. Standing because you're excited about what is happening in the game should not be frowned upon. People have different thresholds of what counts as exciting, and we don't need to cater to the lowest common denominator that late into a great game.
Stand and cheer, man!!!! My favorite sporting events I ever went to was Cornell Big Red NCAA Hockey. Our home crowd ("the Lynah faithful") would stand for the entire game, sitting only between periods. Our visitors section always did the opposite and we basically called them lame-os all night.
I like buying tickets on rows with no one behind me. This exact question is why I prefer those seats. I want to stand when I want, and sit when I want. If someone is enjoying the game and stands in front of me, I will also stand. If not, I stay seated. If you've ever attended a Bruce Hornsby concert, you know that Bruce likes to have the audience come up as close to the stage as they want and stand. In some venues, this blocks the views of the folks who buy the seats up close and some get ticked off. There's nothing to appease those who get upset, and they feel like they got somewhat robbed even if they could have stood themselves. It's a tough question, and I'm glad you devoted an article to it, Larry. My suggestion is to consider that this scenario might happen to you at any public event, so pick your seats accordingly.
I went to a Seattle Sounders soccer game a couple weeks ago with my family (wife and two kids - ages 3 and 2). The rows in front of ours decided to stand for the entire game, which I agree is appropriate at any sporting event. Unfortunately for the kids, it meant they couldn't see any of the action and they quickly lost interest. However, I didn't begrudge the spectators in front of us the act of standing in support of the Sounders. Good for them! If you go to a game to support your team, you're genuinely excited and supportive, and in your enthusiasm you can't stay in your seat, I think that's awesome. There's an old Saturday Night Live Skit from the Carvey-Myers era (did a quick internet search, but couldn't find it) where a couple in their 30's goes to a Van Morrison concert and the young woman sitting right in front of them stands and dances through the whole thing. It's a funny example of this exact issue.
I don't necessarily have a problem with it, but they should have openly encouraged others to stand as well with a short explanation. I think people would have obligued ... problem solved.
If it's more important to you to sit and watch a game with a perfect view than it is to experience the game alongside your fellow fans, then stay at home. It's really simple. You can't enjoy the benefits of a live game without also suffering the inconveniences - they go hand in hand. Everyone can determine for his or herself if the pros outweigh the cons. One thing they cannot do is impose restrictions on others' enjoyment of the game simply to suit their own preferences. If you want the power to do that, society is filled with such opportunities - might I suggest joining a country club?
Wow. Pretty consisent response there, but I have to disagree. With the exception of big plays, last out, standing Os, etc., I didn't buy a ticket so I could look at your backside for nine innings (or even one). My kids and wife are vertically challenged and probably can't see over you even if they stand up, too. So have some consideration and put your butt in the seat where it belongs. Your "enjoyment" of the game shouldn't involve blocking the view of the people behind you, thereby diminishing their own outing. If you have to stand, at least have the courtesy of doing so only with a couple of empty rows behind you. Most sports venues will now no longer allow patrons to take their seats until there is a break in play, just for this reason.