There's been a very unexpected yet quite spectacular trend brewing in Major League Baseball this season - foul ball thievery. At least that's how we have come to describe that once-in-a-lifetime moment when two people collide to retrieve their rawhide souvenir at a baseball game and only one comes out a winner. We break them down, not only the moments, but the people as well, and in every case there's a victim and a villain. Almost every time, that victim is an innocent child and that villain is a scumbag adult. But I've become quite fascinated with this phenomenon and I figured we could take some time today to break down the dynamics in choosing sides.
I think there are some adults getting a bad rap, and in the pre-YouTube days that didn't mean squat. But now we have the ability to forever decry and humiliate our so-called villains. We can watch them again and again, point our fingers - especially the middle ones - and make them taste the agony of our cyber shame. I say, stand down, heroes. Let's take a few moments - and video clips from this and previous MLB, NFL and other sports seasons - and put ourselves in their shoes just this once. Let us be the judges, juries, and executioners right here, at this very moment in Blogdome. Because what the hell else are we going to do?
This is the clip that has brought us to this discussion today, as everyone is celebrating the generosity and class of the young man in this video from a recent game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers. Hoo boy, do I hate being the antagonist, but come on, people. We’re getting a little carried away.
Let’s break it down: Rickie Weeks tossed a ball to a young Brewers fan* and he dropped it. Two other kids ran down and retrieved the ball from a crew member, and they celebrated. Meanwhile, the intended recipient turned on the water works. The staffer told the boy with the ball to return it to the crying child, even though he dropped it. The other boy conceded and handed the ball to the crying boy, who was being comforted by his mother.
First of all, there’s a reason that we use the metaphor “dropping the ball” when we talk about failures and missed opportunities. In this case, the boy literally dropped the ball. Sure, I feel bad for him, but suck it up and move on, boy. Learn from your mistakes and become a better man. Instead, he’s now under the impression that crying will achieve results. Welcome to the modern metaphor, friends.
Secondly, and this is where that * comes into play. Call me heartless, but is that a Brewers shirt with a Diamondbacks hat? Unacceptable, mom. I know this shouldn’t determine who rightfully deserves the ball, but it isn’t helping my verdict. As for the generosity of the other boy, though, he did get his reward and I think it justifies him being unfairly told to hand the ball over. He was presented with an autographed bat. That’s justice.
The Real Villain: The crying boy.
My colleague Brandon posted this video a few days ago and it’s like the redheaded stepchild of the previous clip.
Breaking it down: This kid makes zero effort to catch a foul ball, and even if he did try, there was no way his little germ traps were pulling it in. Instead, as he watched, the adult in front of him wrestled with his woman’s crotch for the ball. Ultimately, her vagina tractor beam won and she had herself a souvenir. But no, that should have been the kid’s ball, according to entitlement.
Of course the kid put on the most spoiled display of angst, and of course he’s eventually rewarded for it with a ball of his own. I’m surprised he didn’t pout more when his brother got a ball as well. Hell, just go ahead and club the woman over her head and give him that ball, too. I’d like to check back in with this kid when he’s a college freshman, pouting in his dorm room because a girl won’t give him a beej. I know because I’ve been there.
The Real Villain: Sourpuss Jones and the enabling TV crew.
Here’s an interesting twist. Instead of a foul ball, Jeff Francoeur lost his bat after his patented “Here goes nothing” swing and it landed between two women. The older woman may have had her hand on the bat first, but I’m invoking a special “Every man for himself” rule on bats. The other woman yanked the bat away and returned to her children, as if she was a mother condor ripping the heart out of a defenseless rodent.
As Martha Washington cried for justice, the other woman just gave her kids a hell of a day at the ball park. As we know, nobody gets to keep a bat. Then again, maybe they do at a Royals game but nobody goes so we have no proof. But assuming the rules are like most regular stadiums, the woman returned the bat and received a few balls, t-shirts and maybe some snacks for their trouble. Not too shabby, and it sucks to be you, grandma. Maybe if you hold your hands up long enough you’ll catch another bat.
The Real Villain: Jeff Francoeur.
I’m particularly fond of this clip from a Tampa Bay Rays-New York Yankees game as it is such a greater metaphor for baseball in general.
Breaking it down: A teenage female Rays fan made a solid effort at retrieving a foul ball over the short infield wall, but she dropped her drink in the process, allowing an adult male Yankees fan to scoop the ball up and present it triumphantly to his wife and child.
I mean, this says it all, right? Small market inadequacies vs. the Evil Empire. The girl was clearly upset that she lost her chance at a foul ball, but she just allowed the Yankees fan to overpower her and win. It sucks, but that’s the nature of the game until she learns to stand her ground and shove back.
The Real Villain: Rays management. Seriously, make some moves and put up a fight.
I find that this clip is particularly relevant to the fans of teams with poor attendance, as the problem at hand is a large section of empty seats, or as I like to call it, “The Marlins Game Law.”
Breaking it down: Obviously this wasn’t a very well-attended Oakland Athletics game, but it’s possible that a few rows really had to pee at the same time. Either way, this ball was in limbo and that means every man for himself. However, in this case, it was a child and two men – settle down, Chris Hansen – and one of the men seemingly took the ball from the kid and sauntered back to his seat back on his home planet of Cluelessness.
I would never say that it’s acceptable for a grown man to take a ball away from a child, but I will offer a defense for the guy. The other man making a move on the ball could have possibly masked the child from his perception, as that dude jumped over two rows from above to get that ball. The guy who grabbed it was possibly looking out for himself. Still, the kid wins our favor because he smacked his head during his effort, so I’ll at least argue that both adults were dicks. And the kid still got a ball out of it.
The Real Villain: Oakland ticket sales reps.
As of right now, this is my favorite for Sports Moment of the Year, because this woman is evil defined.
Breaking it down: Someone tossed a ball toward an older woman and a little girl. It doesn’t matter if the player or coach who tossed the ball pointed directly at the woman and said, “F*ck off little girl, this is for Kurt Warner’s sister-in-law.” The verdict was delivered on the spot.
Congrats, lady. You got a ball. Meanwhile, you can see immediately from the faces on the other people in that section that the C-word was being dropped left and right. From various articles and message board posts written after this game, the fans in the entire section and above booed this woman mercilessly for innings after. Any time she got up, they booed her. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros sent a staff member to deliver an autographed ball and bat, as well as a t-shirt and hat, to the little girl.
As for the woman, I only wish that a fat woman was accidentally hit with a poisoned dart and fell on her during the 7th inning stretch.
The Real Villain: Obviously.
Again, I’ll never justify stealing a ball from a little kid, but some scenarios shouldn’t really shock people. Like, for instance, an Arena Football game.
Breaking it down: An errant pass went into the first row and it would appear that a teenage girl caught the ball without very much effort, to be polite. However, a grown man who was sitting one row behind her and four seats over jumped for the ball and wrestled it away from her. Then he celebrated his souvenir because he’s a proud man.
I’d hope for something bad but I’ll just assume he got a DUI after the game.
The Real Villain: All male AFL fans, myself included.
There’s stealing a ball from kids and then there’s stealing a ball from kids who are trying so hard to retrieve it and then taunting them as you run away.
No need to break this one down, as it’s plain and simple. That guy was just a dick. The crowd clearly recognized that, and I’m sure that having to listen to the Black Eyed Peas didn't help their moods either. But I’m going to hand this one over to YouTube commenter prettyboyalldayadigg:
u got to be kidding me if it was me or a nother black kid i would shoot his ass
God, I love YouTube.
The Real Villain: Any fan that didn’t walk over and grab the ball away from this jerk.
If this guy's a villain, it's because he didn't kick Brett Fave in the nuts. Otherwise, he deserves a medal.