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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Take Me Out To The Ballgame. And, oh yeah, Act your fucking age.

http://www.thestar.com/sports/bluejays/2013/04/22/ejected_blue_jays_fan_admits_tossing_peanut.html

Last fall, on a road trip throughout the United States on my way from Toronto to Vancouver, I made my first stop in Chicago. Part of the reason I did that was that I wanted to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field before they tore it down, which they will one day.
I had been to Wrigley one time before. But I didn't know that or remember it. Because I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time. My parents took me when we travelled to Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York. I remembered going to a Mets game at Shea, and a Phillies game at Veterans Stadium. Those are great memories. I never remembered the Cubs game, but my parents took some pictures, so I know it happened. My father caught a few foul balls, and I still have those. In Philadelphia, the whole Montreal Expos team signed a baseball. It was nothing but positive.
I was really looking forward to seeing a game at Wrigley. To me, it is one of the few parks left with that "real baseball" feel. They can build the new ones now to resemble them, but they still are modernized. They have the sky boxes, the fancy Scoreboards and all the trimmings. I remember the days of the old ballparks, and I wanted to experience that.
Stepping into the park was a great rush. I didn't know what to expect, really, but I was looking forward to it. I don't even go to games anymore at all (which is a great departure for me, because I practically lived in baseball stadiums as a youth), mostly because the Stadium in my town, The Rogers Centre, is such a lousy place to watch a game, and it is also right downtown, which is a pain to get to. When you add the outrageous cost of a decent seat, I think it had been 6 or 7 years--possibly more--since I have been to a game.
I didn't know what to expect when I entered the seating area of the park. I was already late to begin with, mostly because I got the starting time of the game wrong. That was okay anyway, because I didn't care so much about the game. I wanted the experience. The experience of sitting at a legit stadium and watching baseball played the way it was when I was young. Of course, I am a bit naive there. When I was young, the best player on the team didn't make 20 million dollars a season and asked to be traded when the team sucked, as the Cubs did last year. 
Cubs fans were a bit rowdy, but they were pleasant enough. Classy enough. I certainly didn't feel like I was at a game with a bunch of rabid, animal like fans. Yes, they drank a lot of beer. But so did my grandmother when I used to go with her to the Blue Jays games back in the early 80s to Exhibition stadium. There is nothing wrong with a beer or two (even though I don't drink so I have never had one) and cheering loudly and proudly for your team. My grandmother even wasn't above shouting out that a player or two was "a bunch of no-good bums!" But she was never vulgar about it, and she never bothered the other fans, either way. Many view that as part of the game and the viewing experience. You pay your money, you are entitled.
But what are you actually entitled to do and say? That is the question I tackle today, and I have very strong opinions about that.


I have always been of the opinion that you are there to enjoy the game, but you are not the game. And you have to be mindful of the other people who paid their money. And show some respect for the players. You are there to watch them play and compete. You aren't there to get on their backs, or shout insults at them. Part of that is the coach's job. The other part is nobodies job. 

“Heckling is heckling; it’s baseball,” Kafalas said. “But when people start throwing things, it becomes dangerous.”
The Blue Jays say an usher also witnessed the men throwing peanuts, according to the incident report.
Jackson, who was sitting just two rows behind the men who were ejected, said he didn’t see anyone throw anything into the bullpen. He says that when Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley began warming up in the eighth inning, two fans seated in the front row in his section started yelling down at him.
Jackson says it was standard baseball heckling, nothing out of the ordinary at a ball game.
“You know, the usual ‘Yankees Suck!’ type of stuff.”

Toronto is not the same city it was when I moved here in 1978. That is an understatement. Why that is can be debated, but you see things happening now that just make you shake your head. Things that never would have happened even 15 years ago, and certainly not back in the 1970's when we were known as "Toronto, the Good."
We have school shootings. Gang wars. People shooting machine guns wildly in malls, people getting killed in crossfire on the street, and yes, we have hooligans at baseball games now.
Case in point. 
Many Torontonians will not go to a baseball game in New York or Boston because of the reputation of their drunken, erratic and bullying fans. Whether that reputation is true, or one that was of days long ago, it certainly was valid back in the day. To even cheer for your team and against one of either the Yankees or Red Sox in their home stadium was tantamount to suicide. You simply didn't do it if you wanted to have a good time. Yankee fans in particular were not above showering you with beer and threatening you, if not attacking you. 
We used to think that Torontonians, known far and wide as very polite, were above that. Those days, however, are long over. My estimation is that is due to the type of people that go to the games these days. Simply put, they are young and they are not baseball fans. 

 http://www.thestar.com/sports/bluejays/2013/04/22/blue_jays_fans_ejected_from_rogers_centre_on_word_of_yankees_security_guards.html

 One of the Yankees’ security guards, Mark Kafalas, told the Star on Sunday afternoon that the fans were not only heckling, but throwing peanuts into the Yankees’ bullpen as well. He added that later in the game someone threw a full beer from the second deck.

You know why the Yankees need to carry security on road trips? Because of dumbass punks who think they have the right to act like punks. Like the punks who have always acted that way at their games. Now, we are no better than them. In fact, we are worse. Because we think we are entitled. Who raises these kids? Seriously.

“It was just a peanut,” said Josh Blair, 21, who was ejected from the game along with another fan, whom he didn’t know but had high-fived him on his way out. “(The peanut) didn’t even have the shell on it.”
Blair, who said he merely “lobbed” the peanut into the opposing bullpen, conceded it wasn’t his most mature moment, but added that the Jays were losing and he felt he needed to do something to pick them up.
“It’s the Yankees. We have to do whatever we can do to get ahead.” 

In this most recent case, at first there was some dispute to whether the "fan" actually threw anything. Then, he admitted to doing it. Finally, he tried to justify it by saying it was only a peanut shell, and he was just trying to motivate his team, and that it was the Yankees, so it's "okay."
 And this is hardly the only incident lately, or even in the recent past. In the last few years, Blue Jays fans have been guilty of some very bad behavior, resulting in a limit on how much alcohol can be purchased during a game. 

http://www.thestar.com/sports/bluejays/2013/04/22/do_toronto_blue_jays_have_the_most_unruly_drunken_fans_in_baseball.html 

Drunken fans running on the field? Throwing food and beer at players? Is this the type of behavior we are going to condone? I would hope not. It certainly makes me think twice about going to a game, when it takes a private Yankee security force to do anything about it. Where are the Blue Jays on this matter? It seems they don't give a rats ass.


Former Major League player, former Blue Jay and current announder Greg Zaun has spoken about this, 


"Some Jays’ fans are engaging in boorish, obnoxious behaviour that he finds appalling.
Boorish behaviour at Blue Jays games has risen to alarming levels, according to Zaun.
The fans, especially in the 500 level, “are developing a reputation,” Zaun told the Star on Monday.
“It’s very, very prevalent at the Rogers Centre, especially in the later innings when the Jays are losing that people lose their minds,” Zaun said.
He said some fans are under the wrong impression that just because they paid their admission that they can behave anyway they want.
“They’re getting drunker, and drunker and drunker and it’s because fans are getting younger and younger,” Zaun said.
He added he is most concerned about fans throwing objects onto the field, but he doesn’t even think “profanity should be tolerated at all.”

Let us take a quick reality check here.

First of all, how do we know what he was throwing? It could have been a battery, or anything. In the times we live in, where people are exploding bombs at Marathons, and in fact just a few days before, you are not going to get any slack when you do anything like this. Nor should you.
Second of all, why does that matter? It doesn't. If you do anything like that, you are asking to be removed from the stadium.
If I were the Jays, and if they had any guts, they should have him charged and as well banned from the games for life. Send a message to others. And show the rest of us normal, well adjusted fans that you care how the fans act at your place of business. 

"Then Jackson says he saw two men in Yankees jackets and wearing Yankees ID badges walk into the section and clearly point at the fans before jotting something down in their notebooks.
The two men left the section and returned shortly thereafter with two Toronto police officers, who forcibly removed the men."

What exactly did the Yankee security people do? They kept their eyes open. Noticed bad behavior, and then reported it to the proper people. It doesn't seem they did anything wrong. And in fact, the fact they are necessary has been proven right by this fan. He made them relevant and needed. Thanks for that, dumbass fan.    
I understand the need for teams like the Blue Jays to get younger people involved and coming to games. It is just good business. But there has to be a message sent. If you act poorly, and step over the line of what is decent and moral, antagonize other fans and players, then you are going to be removed. And I would go a step further. You should be charged, and the team should make a point of getting that message directly out into the media.
A baseball game is not a bar. People bring their kids. People bring their wives. People bring their clients. Regular people come there directly after work. They don't want this type of behavior, nor do they want it tolerated. I put the sole blame for this squarely on the Blue Jays organization and management. They could easily put a stop to it and send a message, but they don't seem to want to or care.
I would love to be able to go out to a ballgame. But based on the current behavior, and the attitude of the Blue Jays management, I doubt I will. At least when I went to Chicago, they acted like mature adults. That is a lot more than I can say from the punk kids who are going to games these days where I live.
I say to you, "Act your fucking age." 
  

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