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Vanderbilt Baseball by Richard Ficek, Jordan Lee, Cam Nix, and Courtney Smith

Posted by on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Blog posts.


The Vanderbilt baseball team, commonly referred to as the “Vandy Boys” took on the Belmont Bruins on Tuesday, March 19th at the Nashville Sound Stadium. The audience consisted of, enthusiastic fans from both Vanderbilt and Belmont and a wide range of Nashvillians ranging from young families to older couples. Cam Nix, Richard Ficek, Courtney Smith, and Jordan Lee met in Rand in front of the TVs across from the 2301 Cafe to discuss the March 19th performance they all saw.


Cam Nix is a senior from Orlando, FL majoring in Economics and History. He is a counselor for Camp Kesem at Vanderbilt.


Richard Ficek is a senior from Waukegan, Illinois majoring in Economics, Mathematics, and Physics (minoring in Financial Economics). He plays baseball and is a part of the Vanderbilt University Club Baseball team. He likes to play video games and listen to music in his spare time.


Jordan Lee is a junior from Jonesboro, AR majoring in Neuroscience and Medicine, Health and Society with a minor in business. He enjoys sports, travel, and politics.


Courtney Smith is a junior from Charlotte, NC majoring in Human and Organizational Development with a minor in business. She enjoys traveling and hanging out with friends.


JL: What was everyone’s favorite part of the game?


CN: I don’t think she’s going to accept this answer but I really enjoyed the beer.


JL: I wish I had gotten a few.


[We all laugh]


RF: My favorite part was the home run by Scott in the 2nd inning.


CN: That was actually when I got there, it landed about 10 feet away from us.


JL: Ya know, it was actually a really slow game.


CN: Yeah our pitcher was playing really well and obviously we wanted to win but sometimes it was kind of boring.


RF: I actually enjoying watching a well pitched game. 12 strikeouts by our pitcher Hickman was fun to watch.


CS: My little brother plays baseball, so I’m used to seeing pretty badly played games. I was thinking a lot about the differences between little league and college baseball while I was there.


JL: Same. My little brother played and I thought about the same thing. I will say though, the crowd makes a big difference in whether I enjoy baseball games or not. There wasn’t really much to see at this one though so it was pretty relaxed and calm for the most part.


RF: I also played little league baseball and can agree with the badly played games. Usually there is a significant gap in talent between teams, especially with younger players. I did not think to compare the game to ones I played back then or ones I played during club baseball games as well.


CS: The game was pretty boring because I am not the biggest baseball fan, but the environment was really laid back and chill. There was a really nice view of the sky and lights because it was nighttime.


JL: Especially since it was 3-0.


[Everyone laughs]


JL: No, but seriously. It was indeed boring but like Courtney said, the environment was really laid back and chill so I enjoyed that. There were people sitting on the ground with blankets, then you had your fans in all over the bleachers in the stadium, and it happened on a nice evening.


CN: The stadium was kind of small because it’s a minor league stadium so it was about the size of Vanderbilt’s. Still though, the facilities were really nice and it was enjoyable not being crammed into a seat like you are at Bridgestone. It was really just a laid back sort of night. The weather was a bit cold but it wasn’t raining or anything so just sitting around with friends was fine by me.


RF: I remember the game being pretty cold, it definitely made the game a little less enjoyable; but, I am used to watching the Cubs in Chicago in early March and the weather can still be in the 40s.


RF: Alright, so should we start to answer some questions about the game? Like were we the intended audience?


CN: To be honest I don’t think I was. I really don’t love baseball. It was fine but I wasn’t really excited about it either.


CS: Yeah, I agree with Cam. As someone who isn’t a baseball fan, I likely was not the intended audience directly. Of course everyone that goes to a baseball game isn’t necessarily a huge fan of the sport. But at the same time, I think the intended audience is a little more broad than that. It would include baseball fans, Vandy students and fans, and people that enjoy outdoor events, maybe?


JL: I’m not necessarily sure either. On one end, I feel like they know that people like us come to the game to support them and cheer them on, but they also are there because most, if not all of them, have something to prove. Whether that’s them wanting to be noticed by a scout for a MLB team or just to perform well for the university. I don’t know though. What do you think?


RF: Well, I do think I was the intended audience having played baseball for most of my life and continue to play and watch it today. I too like to go to games to support my favorite teams and enjoyed the opportunity I had to go to a minor league stadium to watch the Vandy Boys.


CN: I guess that’s true. I like to see our teams perform. Sports are a huge part of college experiences, and they’ve always been relevant culturally. It’s important to students everywhere to be able to compete with rival schools in a direct manner.


JL: I remember in class one day, Essin talked about the different things that make a performance and I somewhat paid attention to that during the game.


CS: Like what?


JL: She mentioned that sports acts as a performance because of catharsis. That basically means that as a crowd, we go through a journey and we share the ending with them. So like think about all of the die-hard fans that travel to support both teams. They are always invested in the team, their performance, and the overall outcome which is either a win or a loss.

CN: Oh yeah, she also mentioned how these games are spectacles of the athlete’s bodies. They are in peak performance and the crowd watches as they perform and do things that most normal people can’t.

JL: Yeah I suck at baseball so that’s definitely true.

[Cam and Jordan laugh]

CS: There were definitely instances of the teams engaging in rituals. For example, both teams had a number of chants that they would do when specific things happened during the game. They also both encouraged their teammates, high-fived each other, and were communicative with each other. I also see the part about it being a journey, like from the first inning to the ninth there is a journey that takes place.


RF: I noticed the rituals too but in a more individual manner: like each batter (for Belmont) had a personal walk-up song and motion to the plate (such as adjusting batting gloves) and pre-pitch, each fielder had different set-ups while the pitch was being thrown to the batter.


CN: Sports are also important because they’re the most interactive form of performance left. She talked about how audiences used to engage more actively with plays by talking to the actors, and we kind of still do that in sports. We react to the events of the game in a way that we can’t politely do in theater anymore. I remember late in the game when an infield fly wasn’t called for and the umpire gave it to them anyway, then they let them throw a runner out as well. That’s not supposed to be allowed and the crowd was yelling at the umpire so much about it.


CS: Right, the audience at any sports event is an imperative part of the experience. You can always hear people yelling at players or singing classic baseball songs. I think this was especially apparent because it was a college game. Many people in the audience actually knew the players personally. Also, both schools are in Nashville, so that creates the likelihood of more personal ties between the players and the audience.


JL: This is a bit off-topic and this game was obviously a little different, but I love when you attend a game and you can feel the energy and momentum of the crowd. Singing songs as they come on the radio or being in the student section chanting, all of these really emphasize the fact that the audience does play a role in the performance. So I guess I would say that we are partially the intended audience because the event is designed with both the players and audience in mind.



CS: Do you guys feel like it was engaging? Was the performance effective as a live piece of theatre?


JL: For the most part yes. Even when I wasn’t doing much, I was still in-tune with the game and focused on what was going on. I think the performance was effective in a different way. I think traditionally theatre has been perceived as this place where only Shakespeare plays or musicals are performed. This game as a performance was different though. There are so many people who are really invested in baseball as a sport and by watching the game, they are inherently engaged with theatre whether they realize it or not. We talked about catharsis and how the athletes used their bodies as a means of entertainment. The game was ultimately another type of performance with theatrical elements intertwined.


RF: I think it was engaging; but, some people think it is a slow sport. That’s why there is an effort being made to speed up the game by allowing automatic intentional walks and pitch clocks. I actually like the slower pace but see how a wider audience can be engaged especially if they are used to watching fast-paced games such as basketball or hockey. Still as a more individual sport, is why I feel it is an effective piece of live theatre. It offers something different than those faster paced sports that people can enjoy and can be individualized by adding different players to a team.


CS: For someone that does not watch baseball, after a while I see how it would get boring. But if you go to the game for the experience and with the intention to interact with whoever you came with and other members of the crowd, it could be engaging.


CN: It was engaging in it’s own way. It wasn’t necessarily a heart-pounding performance, but baseball isn’t really supposed to be. It’s designed to be a slower game and part of what a lot of people love about it is that you can go to a game and spend time with friends and cheer for your team. It’s more of a community experience than a personal one. You’re there to be a part of something social.



7 Comments on “Vanderbilt Baseball by Richard Ficek, Jordan Lee, Cam Nix, and Courtney Smith”

I think the way the group brought up the different rituals for the team was an important aspect to understand different parts of the game as being apart of live theatre. Also, mentioning the different cheers or songs the crowd would sing helps to bring the crowd together for a moment of unity in a game where as mentioned several times, it can be very boring. I think it was a very interesting point to make that both teams were local, so the players were well known to both sides. I think Cam said it best in that the game is, “It’s more of a community experience than a personal one.” Being at a baseball game, you feel the emotions of the game through the crowd. When the crowd is excited, you are as well. Due to this, the way that this group brought attention to different aspects of the game that they experienced together was very good. Overall, the points discussed by the group were very informational and provided insight to baseball games as being a theatrical experience.

Mikala Rhody on April 11th, 2019 at 5:43 pm

I found the discussion about how the game was a performance very interesting. The audience, in this case, would be the fans watching the game, whereas the performers would be the Baseball players. I was actually talking with my roommate the other day about how nerve racking it must be to play in D1 college sports games, especially largely attended ones. People tend to forget that all the athletes at Vanderbilt are also students, and I think that’s part of what makes these games such a performance. From my experience at the game, every time there was a good/bad play everyone in the crowd would react a certain way — think about how stressful that must be for the athletes on the field!
I, personally, am not a huge baseball fan, so I resonated with a lot of what Courtney said about her experience at the game. But I disagree with what they said about the intended audience — I think anyone who comes to a baseball game is the intended audience! Since they are open for anyone to come to, I feel that the intended audience is really just anyone who happens to go to the game that day. While people who know baseball really well might have a more enjoyable experience at the game, this doesn’t mean that people who don’t know it well intended to be in the crowd.

Mackenzie Macdonald on April 12th, 2019 at 9:13 am

I think something cool that separates live sports from other kinds of performances is their unscriptedness. I thought about this when reading that the authors thought the game they attended was boring. When randomly choosing a game to attend, they could have just as easily chosen an action-packed game with a close score; you have no idea which games will be the most entertaining. With plays, musicals, and most other types of performances, audiences can see a show once and not be entertained by it again; they already know everything that is going to happen. In sports, you see a different performance every time a team plays. I only attended one baseball game (a Vanderbilt blowout win), but I’m sure that I would have had a completely different experience if I had attended another one.
I had also thought about the community aspect of baseball games that Cam brought up at the end of the article. One of the things I remember best about the game I attended was how the regular spectators all knew each other and called all of the players by name. They seemed to have a chant made up for every Vanderbilt player that they would say when that player came up to bat. The audience of Vanderbilt baseball games do not just come to Hawkins Field to see baseball played; they come to see their friends and be social.

David Ward on April 14th, 2019 at 8:29 pm

I went to this game and so it was nice to read about what they experienced in relation to what I experienced. I think part of the beauty of sports is that it similar to a theatrical performance. Many times in sports a certain play or picture is referred to “poetry in motion.” This means that the athletes are moving so naturally and gracefully, that they flow like a poem and are simply beautiful to watch. Sports are also spontaneous. Anything can happen at any time no matter how good the team they are playing is. This game in particular for me was enjoyable to watch because Hickman pitched so well and we played an overall clean game. Jordan made a comment about the players always having something to prove. I think this statement is right and wrong. As an athlete myself you are trying to show off your talents and hard work that you have put in. On the other hand, proving your talent or your work is a by product of your love for the game. Just like in theatre, performers are trying to prove how good they are, but they do this as a by product of loving what they do and putting all of their effort into doing it.

John Augenstein on April 14th, 2019 at 9:10 pm

I agree with this group that the number of rituals involved really sticks out at the Vandy baseball games. The team as a whole had some ritualistic stretching that seemed to be the perfect way to fill some of the dead time that could make the game seem slow and capture the attention of those who broaden the definition of the intended audience. I’ve loved sports since I was a kid, but at times I didn’t feel like the intended audience at the games I attended here. I wasn’t an insider on our roster or our rituals. But seeing things like the team doing goofy stretches or catching onto their little individual rituals as they approach the plate can make the game as a whole feel more approachable for the audience.

Megan Haase on April 14th, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Rituals was one of the aspects that was brought up in the discussion that I really liked. Rituals are indeed a key part of sports, especially baseball. As a baseball player, I know that every guy has his own routine or ritual that he does whenever he is about to hit, or about to pitch. It’s key in staying centered and mentally preparing you to perform well. Student-Athletes can be seen as student-performers, if we look at it from a theatrical standpoint, but none of what occurs is scripted. The spontaneity of sport is what is so fun about playing, and so fun about watching. It keeps the audience engaged, and helps created a great atmosphere for not only the fans, but the players. Big crowds gives the “butterflies in your stomach” type feeling, but is so much fun to play in when you’re mentally prepared.

Alexander Franklin on April 15th, 2019 at 5:00 pm

When going to the baseball game, the first thing I noticed was how the fans interacted with each other and became part of the whole experience. The different chants that fans started were used to unite the whole fan base and made the game a social gathering. I appreciated the statements made on rituals. Rituals are key to performers calming themselves before they take the stage or field. Being at the event live allowed me to feel the intesity of the game as well as see the emotion of performers who would’t be in the camera on television.

Joseph Toye on April 18th, 2019 at 12:11 pm

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