The baseball world (and all those without things better to do with their lives than watch YouTube 24/7) is aghast about the “incident” Wednesday night at the Texas Rangers-New York Yankees game in Arlington, Texas. It has caused outrage against innocent people and shown that same world just how cruel people can be when acting without first engaging their brains.
Let’s set the scene: The hometown Rangers are winning 7-3 in the top of the eighth inning and a foul ball is retrieved by Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland. When I was young, that ball would have gone back to the pitcher for further use, but in today’s version of baseball, it is immediately taken out of play after a single touch (by a bat, a mitt, the ground, an unsuspecting seagull hovering overhead).
Instead of tossing it into the dugout (to be utilized later as a batting practice ball), he chose to toss it into the stands, behind the first base dugout occupied by the Rangers. Moreland didn’t necessarily soft-toss it either; he gave it a good underhanded windup before letting the ball fly away.
The ball was caught by a woman, Shannon Moore, from among a dozen reaching hands surrounding her. One set belonged to a little boy, no older than 3, with an oversized glove on his left hand, and in the arms of his father. This tyke had as much chance of catching the toss as I still do (but still harbor) of fulfilling my dreams to start at 1B for my beloved Detroit Tigers.
Anyone who actually sees the video will note a few things. First, the kid exploded in a crying tantrum the nano-second the lady catches the ball … and it’s a doozy of a hissy fit. Since it was the eighth inning (around 10 p.m. Dallas time), any parent can recognize when someone has been up too late and need to get some sleep. That child visibly resembled that remark.
Second, his parents were NOT upset about his failure to make a scoop of the throw. They were laughing throughout his ordeal, which suggests a reaction OTHER than “oblivious” on the lady’s part.
Third, Shannon Moore was celebrating her good fortune with her fiancée, Sean Leonard, because … they were going to be married that weekend, and it was a magical moment for them to share together.
Finally, as said, many others were lunging for that round piece of horsehide manufactured by Rawlings, and I guarantee you, none of them intended to share, or part, with the baseball.
Yet it seems the play-by-play announcer on the Yankee’s YES Network, Michael Kay, took it upon himself to dump all over the couple for their failure to simply surrender the ball to this shrieking child … because … he was a CHILD! The comments went viral and by the next morning, the “controversy” had exploded all over the country and blogosphere. Since then, this couple has been ridiculed, vilified and barbecued (like a cheap Texas brisket from Costco) for what one blogger labeled as being “oblivious” to this sad sack young boy.
Say what?!?!? Where is it written in any by-laws or rules or so-called “baseball etiquette” that fans MUST give up baseballs caught in the stands to the nearest cherubic child because of their age and/or gender? It doesn’t exist because it’s all horse-puckey.
Let me be the first to say what must be said. If I am in the stands, and I manage the good fortune of catching or corralling a foul (or fair) baseball in the stands, I’m keeping the darn thing. The only child who’d get it out of my cold, dead hands would be my granddaughter(s). If you want your kid to have one, YOU catch one.
It has never happened to me and I spent half my youth in Tiger Stadium in Detroit dreaming of such a moment. It is the inherent right of every ticket holder to keep balls (and bats) that fly into the seats – out of play. This poppycock about sharing with others is the kind of politically correct behavior that leads children to feel entitled to have things (instead of earning what you get).
The couple was thrilled to have (legitimately) caught a baseball from their favorite team and even took to taking camera phone photos. The parents were coddling the crying child, who stopped bawling within a few seconds (he couldn’t have been THAT upset). Besides a few minutes later, out popped a baseball from the Ranger’s dugout and into the little boy’s glove.
All was finally right in the Western world.
The couple has asked for an apology from Kay, who is also a well-known New York radio sports talk show host, for enflaming the whole situation to their detriment on what should have been the happiest week of their lives. Some baseball blogger on Yahoo! Sports also stated this: “I was more amused at the trouble their self absorption was getting them into than I was offended that the little boy didn't get the ball. I did, however, feel for the little boy's disappointment.”
Again, what in the hell did that guy know about the couple, the child or anything? Sadly, the Internet, and corresponding blogosphere, has permitted anyone with a big mouth and keyboard, to chime in on topics which should have remained as trivial as possible – not escalated ahead of war, peace and world hunger. I don’t know if Ms. Moore and Mr. Leonard are owed formal apologies, but a nice “I’m sorry” from someone, over the unnecessary abuse they’ve taken, would be better human etiquette.
After last season’s tragedy at The Ballpark in Arlington, when a young firefighter lost his life, falling over a rail while trying to catch a ball, for his young son, tossed into the stands by outfielder Josh Hamilton, the Rangers are very sensitive on this topic and particular habit. They have warned fans time-and-again against the dangers of overreaching for these special souvenirs.
But no one asks parents to consider how others around them will feel or react to screaming fits by toddlers simply too young to be there in the first place. Nor does anyone scold those parents for allowing the sense of entitlement to creep into a child’s life – to get whatever he or she wants at that moment (from food to toys to money to whatever) simply by smiling, looking “adorable” … or screaming their lungs out.
Hey, you’ve got to earn your foul balls by the old school method – you catch it, you keep it. Otherwise, you’ll never learn how…