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?