We really should test fans before letting them in the park.
Sometimes, I really think baseball stadiums need an entrance exam. Now, baseball has always had its share of kooks, both in the stands and in the dugout, but most of them actually knew something about the game. These days, even that doesn’t seem mandatory.
This was originally going to be a tirade against specific people, but it’s getting more general as time goes on. First, it was going to be an apology to the players for a couple of specific people who are obviously idiots. Specifically, it was a litany of sins from one particular “fan” that is making people crazy in and out of the stands. Finally, I realized that there are enough annoying people paying their six bucks to get a seat, and we need a way to filter out the true idiots.
Hence, the entrance exam.
Now, I’m not totally against heckling the players – I even understand people who heckle their own team (I am a Cubs fan, after all), as long as it’s from passion. If you really want to know what someone was thinking when he hit into an inning-ending, drive-crushing double play, you probably have the right to ask him. Loudly. Just remember – he knows what happened, he probably wants it back, so don’t expect much of an answer.
I’m against two basic classes of “fans” – the oblivious and the pseudo-groupies.
The oblivious can be found in every sport – I was just surprised to find them at a minor league game. Most of the time, they’re sitting in really expensive seats at games because some company is using the tickets as a write-off. In that case, it makes perfect sense – they’re only there as a prop, so why pay attention to the game? In the minors, I assumed everyone would be there because they chose to be – or they would be in the suites, safely out of the way of the game, and blessedly out of sight.
Now that I’ve seen a couple of people get beaned, I know that there are oblivious fans everywhere.
Every sport has groupies – the women (and perhaps some men) that want to be Mrs. Player (or at least Mrs. Player-for-the-Evening) and all the guys trying to recreate their glory days that may or may not have ever occurred. They are probably at best a minor distraction to the players. Eventually, most will get the hint and wander away.
The pseudo-groupies are the worst. They cling to the team like a fat guy to a donut. They seem to be everywhere. They’re seen with all the players. Some are gently escorted out of the clubhouse after they wander in, uninvited. However, when you start listening to them, you realize they are completely clueless.
I expect a fan to do some basic research. If you come to only a couple of games, you’re exempt. Get a scorecard for the game, and you’re done. I expect someone who attends games regularly to know something about the team, and I expect a fan with a media pass to not only know something about the team, but also to know where to find out about changes to the roster.
If you’re asking someone why he’s in a different team’s uniform three weeks after he was traded, you’re a poser. Go away. If you ask the equipment manager why he’s never playing, it might be that he’s the freakin’ equipment manager and not a player. (Bonus hint – people with the same last name are not automatically brothers. Do some research.)
So, here’s the first draft of my entrance exam. I reserve the right to edit it later. Please don’t contact me for the answers. If you don’t know, go watch poker on TV.
- What teams are playing in today’s game?
- Which is the home team?
- What sport will they be playing?
- How long do you expect the game to last?
- In what inning would you expect the seventh-inning stretch?
- Nothing ever happens after the eighth inning, so if one team is ahead, that’s a good time to beat the traffic out of the stadium.
- Players never think about the game on the field, so asking for autographs when they’re in the on-deck circle is acceptable.
- If you yell really loudly at the dugout, someone will give you a baseball.
- If you do get a baseball, you should immediately ask for two more for your friends.
- Anyone with a number on a jersey is a player.
- Each team has a website with player information, schedules and more.
- Players can be traded, waived or released at any time. The league website shows these transactions.
- If a player steals a base, he has to give it back.
- The home team bats a) once b) twice c) every inning.
- The players sitting around away from everyone are a) on strike b) very smelly c) the bullpen d) b and c
- The older guy near third base waves his hands because he’s a) swatting bugs b) sending signs to the base-runners c) waving to fans d) epileptic
- A manager trades players a) to strengthen the team b) to annoy the public c) randomly d) by order of the Lollipop King.
- The clubhouse is for a) the public b) ticket-holders c) anyone with a media pass d) the club.
- I friended all of the players I could find on Facebook because I expect …