There’s been a lot of discussion lately about fan misbehavior, and fans run amok at the ballpark.  What is proper etiquette?  What should you typically avoid doing?  I started to think about the most obnoxious fans that you can end up sitting next to and decided to list them by type.  (I also plan to do another piece in the near future about my personal favorite crazy fan stories.)

1. The Drunk.  I know that everyone likes to have a few beers at the ballpark, I’m not talking about those people.  I’m talking about the people that can hardly stand up by the first pitch.  They scream, unintelligibly, for a few innings until they either pass out or decide to just leave and go drink at the bar.  A few years ago I saw these drunk White Sox fans going back and forth with a few drunk Indians fans.  Here is their exchange: “meoihgoeighbbbbrrrr”   “giejejfioewiofjdm”  ”NO! blrurughrhgh”  This is honestly what it sounded like.  There were also copious amounts of finger pointing, and I think that a fight almost broke out.  I’ve never felt more annoyed, or more confused by something in my life.

2. The fan that never actually watches the game.  Maybe they’re on their cell phone the entire time.  Maybe they’re talking to the person next to them.  Occasionally, they’ll turn around and say “what just happened?” when they hear some form of fan reaction.  That’s when I’ll usually try to come up with something along the lines of “Jack Hannahan just took off his pants and ran around the infield…I can’t believe you missed it!”

3. The know it all.  I always end up sitting near someone who is trying to explain the Indians (or baseball in general) to their less knowledgeable friend/date.  While there’s technically no problem with this (everyone has to learn about the game somewhere), they are often people that really don’t know much more than their clueless friend.  The difference is that they act like an authority and try to appear superior for their vast amount of baseball knowledge.  ”Well see, Jason Donald hit that home run because he’s basically the team’s best power hitter.  He’ll probably hit around 20-30 home runs this season.”  Or, perhaps they’ll say something like this when speaking about Chad Durbin – “He was our big free agent pick-up, he was Philadelphia’s ace last year.”  Perhaps they’ll decide to talk about history: “Lou Boudreau?  He was that guy that was here in the 70s…you know, that catcher.”  A part of me wants to turn around and give them a lesson in baseball, but then I remember that I’m lazy and don’t really give a crap.

4. The small toddler that wants nothing to do with the game or with sitting still.  When I complain about this one, sometimes I’ll take heat from people.  I don’t think I do a good enough job to clarify what I mean by this – I’m not talking about all small children.  I know that you want to get your kid interested in baseball, so they can share in your passion.  When I envision this person, I see really disinterested parents; parents who don’t know much about the game, or really care.  Their kid doesn’t want to sit still or even attempt to watch the game (and is always pretty much under the age of 5).  He/she screams loudly for treats and souvenirs the entire game, and usually stands on the seat (if you’re lucky…otherwise they jump on the seat and somehow keep ending up in your lap).  The parents also usually don’t pay much attention to them, or they just let them do whatever the hell they want (think the kid that ran out onto the field at U.S. Cellular).  My seats used to be by the home bullpen at Progressive Field, and I eventually asked to have them moved.  That’s because I got so tired of small children climbing over me to look in the bullpen while the ball was in play.  I never minded before/after the game, or between innings – but these kids would come when I was trying to watch the game and stand pretty much on my lap to look over the wall.   They were all small, and almost none of them had any parents that were visible.  One day, I actually heard a parent tell a kid to “go ask the nice lady if she’ll help you up so you can look in the bullpen.”  Seriously?  You want to run this one by me?  I was so tempted to walk over to the guy and say “Hi, I’m Stephanie.  I feel like I should introduce myself since you just basically encouraged your child to come sit in my lap.”  Then I was going to lie to him and tell him that I was a registered sex offender (I’M NOT)…just so he would realize that you shouldn’t tell your kid to go ask some stranger to pick him up, so you can continue to talk to your friend and drink beer.

5. The person that gets out of their seat 6,553 times.  I’m sympathetic to this in some ways, because I have a bladder the size of a walnut.  I have 3 sips of water, and it translates into 8 trips to the bathroom.  However, you can definitely abuse the situation.  Getting up every half inning to get more beer and food, or to go to the bathroom, gets real old real quick.  I’d almost forgive this if you’d just wait until it’s between innings.  I don’t ask for a lot at the game…just, you know, to ACTUALLY WATCH THE DAMN GAME!  Do you really need that beer THIS VERY SECOND, or can it wait until Casey Kotchman grounds out weakly to end the inning?  Because if I miss that, you’re robbing me of prime material that I could use to rip on him for the next 4 innings, and that’s just a shame.

6. The person that almost tackles me to get a foul ball.  There’s been a lot of discussion about foul balls this week; should you give it to a kid, what is appropriate behavior, etc.  Let me just get this out of the way – if it’s a ball tossed into the stands, it probably should go to a kid.  If it’s in play and you catch it straight up, you probably earned it.  For example, there was a ball tossed into the stands that bounced off the hands of the little girl behind me.  I hurried up and caught the ricochet, and went back and handed it to her.  No brainer, as far as I was concerned.  However, I caught a foul ball before…it came off the bat and came right at me.  It is currently on a small pedestal in my living room, right next to a propped up copy of the book I wrote.  These are basically the two things I’m most proud of in life,  and I rather arrogantly display them.  So anyway, what I hate is the person that bulldozes me, elbows me in the face, and almost knocks me to the ground to go after a foul ball/home run you have no chance of getting.  I sympathize with your poor depth perception, but that is a full section to our right, and about 10 rows behind us.  You can knock me to the ground and give me a concussion as you run toward it, but you’re still not going to get it.  And now you look like total douche for plowing over a whole group of people.

7. The person that steals my seat and refuses to give it back.  All right, so technically I’ll be free of this person once I can actually uproot them from my seat – it’s still annoying that I have to do this in the first place.  My season tickets are in some pretty decent seats; it’s what happens when you’ve had season tickets for a number of years as others cancel their plans around you.  You keep moving up closer and closer until you’re almost in the front row.  So I get why people may want to hang out there, if we’re either not sitting there yet, or maybe out getting some food or something.  However, when I come back it’s time for you to leave.  I’ve had people point out alternative seats to me – “well, you could just go sit in those back there, they’re empty.”  I’ve also had people try to tell me that “I must be mistaken, because those are their seats.”  Really?  I’ve sat in these same dumb seats for approximately 5 years, but I’m going to suddenly get confused as to where I’m supposed to be?  I try to be polite, I’ll smile and say, “No, these are my season tickets so I’m pretty sure I’m in the right spot…what seats are on your tickets?”  Then if they’re honestly just confused, I usually help get them to the right place.  There have literally been times that they still refuse to leave, and still deny that they’re not where they’re supposed to be.  It usually takes me saying “I guess I have to go get the usher…” before they’ll clear out.

8. Extreme public displays of affection.  I’m not talking about hand holding, or someone that puts their arm around their significant other.  I’m not even talking about a polite kiss every now and again.  I’m talking about the couple that I have to watch get to more bases than I’ve seen Austin Kearns reach on the field all season.  Their hands are places where I can’t see them (not that I’m trying to find them!) and I just am forced to sort of awkwardly sit there, shielding my eyes with my hand like I’m avoiding staring at the sun.  There was a couple so extreme last summer, I honestly wasn’t sure they were still wearing pants.  And nobody stepped in to try and police the situation…they just awkwardly looked away and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.  Next time, I’m not messing around .  I’m just going to go stand right next to them…as in RIGHT next to them and stare awkwardly at them.  I’ll take my drink and just keep sipping on it, like I’m watching a mildly entertaining show.

So did I miss anything?  What kind of behavior really makes you crazy at the ballpark?

9 Comments

  • Tara says:

    This is a good list. I’d add babies. That’s great you want to bring your kid to their first baseball game, but your six-month-old isn’t going to have a clue what’s going on. And they’re going to cry any time there’s loud music or applause. And you’re going to have to get up every other inning to change their diaper or breastfeed them — if you’re that courteous and you don’t decide to do those things in your seat in front of everyone, which people have done. You really couldn’t find a sitter?

  • The Potty Mouth/Loudmouth

    This is the one who has run through all seven of George Carlin’s words before the bottom of the second inning. He is also louder than the beer guy. Now, Ms. Manners here has a pretty salty vocabulary. (My mother once gave my kids a Nativity coloring book in July. When I asked her why, she snapped, “Because I wanted them to know Jesus, Mary and Joseph were real people!”) but this guy (and sometimes gal — boorishness knows no gender boundaries) will curse, swear, heckle, shout, screech, and generally carry on in a way that embarrasses far stauncher souls than myself. I would take exception to this during a late night down at the hockey bar, let alone on a Sunday afternoon with kindergarten kids, grandmas, nuns and school groups present. To add insult to injury, due to extreme drunkenness or stupidity (which is not to rule out both at once), this person doesn’t generally know what’s going on and will bawl random epithets in the direction of either team at odd moments. In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “Aaaaaaaah, shaddup!”

  • medfest says:

    You’ve covered the bases of fan boorishness pretty well there.There’s one you missed…..The SuperFan…..the guy who stands up and beckons everyone to cheer/clap/do the wave etc.,just because he’s ,well,SUPERFAN!

    Admittedly I’m sensitive to this because I worked security in the lower bleachers(AKA the Dawg Pound,I was there during it’s birth)and there were dozens of SUPERFANS who were complete jerkmorondiots.

    Oh and then there are the people who treat going to a ballgame like a trip to a mall,gotta visit the team shop and blow cash on crap,gotta go to the food court 3 times during the game etc. etc. and then they complain the next day how expensive a trip to the ballpark is.

  • SeattleStu says:

    steph this was laugh out loud funny….totally with you on these, and +1 with tara on the babies…if you can afford those seats you can afford a sitter….the baby is getting nothing out of it, and yes you get to show your bald petite human off, but i’m not here to see that….go home.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Tara and Stu – the babies! How could I forget the babies! Two springs in a row, I’ve seen parents bring infants to games in Arizona, in that ridiculous sun. In both cases, the parents propped the kid up on the top of the dugout WHILE THE BALL WAS IN PLAY! They were laughing and taking pictures, the whole time the batters are slapping the ball around. With the one just last year, the kid was just screaming and crying the whole time. I was about to take action with the people around me (no way did I want to spend my afternoon watching an infant get clocked with a 100 mph foul ball) – when someone finally clued the parents in and they took the kid and watched on the concourse in the shade. Heck, even I’m a little nervous in the front row on the dugout (although in Goodyear they at least have a foul ball curtain that extends to the end of the dugout). Unfortunately the one baby incident wasn’t at Goodyear and there would’ve been nothing to protect the kid. (And Stu, bald, petite human made me LOL).

    Celia – If I would’ve written this just a few days later, I think I would’ve remembered about the loudmouth. My section was FULL of them yesterday and it started to make me a little nuts. Some of them were so weird…the guys in front of me kept trying to sell Torii Hunter a 401K and kept proposing other investment opportunities. I give them heckling creativity points, I guess!

    medfest – I’m glad you mentioned that one…I was by this drunk guy DESPERATELY trying to start the wave a few years ago. Nobody was taking the bait, and he just never gave up. Then he went on a drunken rant about how we weren’t good fans. I wanted to duct tape him to his seat!

  • Scott says:

    Hey Stephanie,
    I’m a Royal’s fan (I know that sounds pathetic) and found your blog by accident. I really enjoy your style and will be adding you to my must reads for baseball blogs. The only thing I’d add to your column is the fans from other teams that come in and act like total jerks and morons. I’m looking at you Cardinal fans. Keep up the great work.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Thanks for stopping by Scott! One of my all time favorite parks is Kauffman Stadium – it was a beautiful place and I had a lot of fun there.

    I’ve never understood the jerk fans from the other league. You play a couple of times a year during interleague, otherwise you have nothing to do with each other! The only annoying NL fans I’ve seen at an Indians game was one time (and only once, knock on wood) when the Pirates were in town, a Steelers-Browns argument broke out. I just wanted to stand up and scream “IT’S NOT FOOTBALL PEOPLE…CHILL!” You want to duke this out at an actual football game this fall, be my guest. Otherwise, shut up!

  • Mike says:

    All I want is for the usher’s to not let people back in their seats while the game is going on. I was in San Francisco and the usher stands at the top of the aisle and won’t let anyone down it until the inning is over, or the manager or pitching coach goes to the mound. Why is that so darn hard?

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I LOVED that when I was in San Francisco! Someone else does it too, I want to say Oakland? I remember seeing it in two different places when I was on my west coast trip last summer.