ARLINGTON -- To wave, or not to wave.
With apologies to Shakespeare, that is the question making the circles around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Increasingly vocal anti-wave fans are trying to convince fans around them 'tis nobler to make the Ballpark a no-wave zone, or at the least be more selective in choosing when to do the wave. That has left some pro-wavers up in arms -- both literally and figuratively.
"One guy thought we were infringing on his constitutional rights for freedom of expression," said Chuck Morgan, the Rangers' senior vice president for in-park entertainment.
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Morgan stepped into the wave-don't wave fray with a series of wave-discouraging video board messages designed to be fun but that have been mistakenly received by some as an official anti-wave stance by the Rangers.
When one of Morgan's messages made it onto TV screens during a nationally televised game a few weeks ago, interest sprang up across the nation.
Morgan has been interviewed by media from the four corners of the country -- New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Seattle -- and points in between. A few outlets have reported the Rangers are attempting to ban the wave.
Not true, Morgan says.
"We didn't tell anybody not to do anything," he said. "We're really just having some fun with it."
So this is the official stance: Doing the wave is allowed at Rangers games.
But as for whether you should, that is where the debate began.
First, some history.
As far back as five or six years ago, Morgan said, fans would send him anti-wave e-mails. As Twitter became more popular, he began fielding in-game tweets saying something like, "Wave in Section 210. Do something about it!"
With the Rangers at the plate, Morgan would post a message on the center-field board that read "Texas hitting -- No Wave zone." The message made little impact, he said, so it would appear off and on without receiving much attention.
But this year, with the new color message board in center field, Morgan decided to go big.
"I thought, 'Let's just take my frustrated Saturday Night Live comedy writing and see what I can come up with here,'" Morgan said.
He came up with a message that said doing the wave could throw your rotator cuffs out of socket. Another threatened that anyone doing the wave would have their children sold to the circus.
The big, new board in right field became an even more attention-drawing toy for Morgan to play with. He has produced messages that include thought bubbles over Charlie Sheen, Annette Funicello, Roy Hobbs from The Natural and Kramer from Seinfeld.
It was the big board that led to the national television exposure.
The reaction from fans, Morgan said, has been mixed.
Those who have e-mailed and tweeted Morgan the past few years have been vocal in their support. But there has been equally strong reaction from the pro-wavers.
Morgan told the fan standing up for his constitutional rights, "Hey, you're welcome to come out here and wave anytime that you want to. We're just suggesting there might be a better time to do that."
Ah, a better time for the wave. That has become a part of the debate.
Tessie Reid, 23, and her mother, Debbie Reid, Arlington residents and season ticket holders, used to do the wave. They stopped when they started noticing the messages.
They thought it was a serious request from the Rangers and said they noticed that the wave seemed to have a negative impact on their favorite team.
"It seemed like some of the pitchers were not pitching well when they do the wave," Debbie Reid said.
"It seems like it throws them off. It seemed like it was affecting them."
So they became non-participants in the wave. Tessie said they've heard others around them discouraging fans from doing the wave as it rolls by.
Greg Holland, a 29-year-old from Euless, might be the most active of anti-wave fans. He has a website called stopthewave.net that has drawn enough interest that Holland started selling "Stop The Wave" T-shirts.
He said he has never cared for the wave and reached his enough-is-enough point two years again when, while the wave circled the ballpark, Rangers pitchers gave up a lead late in the game.
He created his StopTheWave Twitter account and began his campaign. (Yes, he says, he is one of those who has complained to Morgan.) He started his website to provide wave-related news and updates.
Holland's biggest beef with the wave is the distraction it causes when fans in front of him stand to do the wave during game action, then they watch the wave go around the ballpark instead of paying attention to the game.
"I'm getting some people that are like, 'Why are you telling people what to do?'" he said. "But it would be nice if people would know the most appropriate times to do it."
Between action or during stoppages in play, he suggested, would be a time for the wave. Late in a game that's a blowout, too. But never, he said, when the Rangers are losing.
There also are plenty of fans like Michael Vernars of Flower Mound, who sat in the outfield bleachers before a game on the last homestand with sons Nick (11) and Tony (9).
Vernars isn't one to start a wave, but if one comes by he'll join in.
"If it's going on, it's kind of neat," he said.
Then he pointed to his boys.
"These guys get into it," he said.
Fans like those are why Morgan said his messages aren't intended to do anything more than add a few laughs to a fun night at the ballpark.
"My philosophy's always been, 'Hey, when a guy comes to the ballpark, as long as you don't hurt yourself or hurt somebody and you don't offend anybody, you can pretty much do what you want to,'" he said.
"It's the same thing with the wave."
So when a wave develops or he receives a tweet from someone reporting a wave is trying to get started, he'll place one of the anti-wave messages he created on the board and watch what happens.
"With all of our efforts," he said, "I noticed lately the wave's as strong as it's ever been."
David Thomas, 817-390-7697