MLB The Show crowd noise to be piped into Major League Baseball stadiums

SIE San Diego Studio
SIE San Diego Studio /

MLB The Show is helping create an authentic game day experience

When Major League Baseball returns on Thursday, it will do so with no fans in the stands as teams adhere to strict safety guidelines regarding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States. To help simulate a live game day environment, however, teams will turn to MLB The Show.

The sound effects of Sony San Diego Studios’ baseball game will be used to help replicate the crowd noise. According to MLB, stadium sound engineers will have access to around 75 different effects and reactions captured from MLB The Show. This is about as authentic as one could hope given the circumstances since San Diego Studios actually compiled the crowd noise during games over the course of several seasons.

Commenting on the unique approach, Chris Marinak, MLB’s executive vice president for strategy, technology and innovation, stated:

"“There was some reticence when you first talk about crowd noise in an empty ballpark because you don’t want to do something that is distracting. It is heard in a way that is natural with the play of the game and on-field. The sounds do match what is happening.”"

While teams had been using the artificial crowd noise during summer camp, it was only during the recent exhibition games that I heard it for the first time myself. And I have to say, it sounds pretty authentic. If it were not for the empty chairs, you’d think it was a real crowd.

I even closed my eyes and just listened while watching on the couch. It sounded exactly like the white noise I typically hear that helps lull me to sleep for a Sunday afternoon nap.

It’s a novel approach to what is otherwise a very weird season. If there’s one complaint I have, however, it’s that teams with typically low fans attendance — the Marlins, Rays, etc. — shouldn’t be allowed to play the crowd noise at the same level as the ones with higher attendance.

Major League Baseball isn’t the first sport to use a video game to help replicate a game day experience. England’s Premier League and Spain’s La Liga have been using sound effects provided by EA Sports’ FIFA video game franchise. The NBA is also reportedly in contact with 2K Sports about possibly using effects from the NBA 2K video game series.

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According to Milwaukee Brewers infielder Eric Sogard, the crowd noise did help create a familiar feeling, even despite playing in an empty stadium. Watching at home, it helped normalize the entire experience for me.

Still, it would’ve been uniquely fascinating to experience a Major League Baseball game without crowd noise. Hearing the crack of the bat or the slap of the ball hitting a leather glove would’ve certainly been entertaining in its own right. The UFC, for example, has been hosting events without a crowd and hearing those punches and kicks make contact really drives home how violent the sport is and how tough those athletes are.

So when Major League Baseball returns on Thursday night, we can thank Sony San Diego for putting so much focus on creating an authentic game day experience in MLB The Show. I guess it just goes to show you that it truly is the most realistic baseball sim on the market.