Monday, May 21, 2012

Life Lessons At The Ballpark

In any given Major League Baseball game, dozens of fans league the stadium with souvenir foul balls or home run balls.  But rarely does lazy foul to the first baseman cause as much controversy as one did in an April 26th Yankees/Rangers game in Arlington.  Mitch Moreland, the Rangers first baseman, tossed a foul ball into the stands, unexpectedly sparking a debate that wound up all over the internet and on The Today Show.

When Moreland tossed the ball into the stands it hit the ground, and an older guy and his fiancee ended up with it.  Sitting next to the couple was a three year-old who immediately started crying out of disappointment.  The camera zoomed in on the lucky couple who got the ball, and the man's fiancee posed with her trophy as he snapped her picture with his phone, the toddler still shrieking behind him.  To the untrained eye, it appeared as though the couple was flaunting their victory right in front of their little selfish nemesis. I can't put my finger on it, but there's something I really like about this couple...

The Yankees announcer very publicly expressed his wildly unjustified disgust as soon as he saw the cranky toddler: "Oh my god, they can't give it to the kid?  That's awful!"  Then later, as the couple snapped their photos with the ball, "Wow, they're actually, like, rubbing it in the kid's face!"  Did I mention I really like this couple?

Personally, I hold a more traditional--and less generous--view when it comes to ballpark etiquette.  When a ball goes into the stands, it's every man, woman, and child for themselves.  That couple would have been perfectly justified in giving that toddler a stiff-arm to the face or using him as a human stepping stool if it gave them a potential advantage in snagging that foul ball.

The video coverage of the foul ball incident hit the internet and went viral, setting off a massive debate on proper baseball etiquette.  The couple who walked away from the fray with the ball plead innocent, claiming they didn't notice the screaming monster in the next seat.  (If you watch the video below, they do appear oblivious...and I'd love to know their secret for blocking out annoying children.)  They rightfully claimed that Yankees announcer Michael Kay owed them an apology for berating them on the air for the last few innings of the game.  And, for the record, the couple even offered the ball to the kid after they realized what had happened.

Before I'd read all the articles and watched the video clips, I assumed the parents of this annoying child were crying foul that the couple didn't hand over the foul to the crying child.  But it turns out that they actually handled this quite well, saying that no apology was necessary and that not getting the ball was a good life lesson for their young son.  I must say, I was pleasantly surprised--weaker, stupider parents could have easily taught their kid that crying will immediately get him whatever he wants.

So the story has a happy ending, right?  Selfish toddler's world is crushed, but he learns an important life lesson in the process and becomes a better person because of it.  If only the story ended here...instead, others had to step in and destroy an otherwise perfectly good act of parenting.

A few minutes after the kid was denied the foul ball, someone in the Rangers dugout tossed him a different baseball to help calm him down.  Then, in the media circus that ensued, the kid earned appearances not only on the local news in Texas, but national coverage on The Today Show.  So long, valuable life lesson; hello, undeserved sense of entitlement.  Thanks to someone in the Rangers and all the newscasters, not only has the kid learned that crying will get him things that he doesn't deserve, but he'll also get national media attention in the process.  What's the world coming to?

Here's a clip of the local news coverage in Dallas:

And here's a clip to the segment from The Today Show, which provides an excellent example of how loud and obnoxious this kid is.  To offset the missed opportunity to learn that valuable life lesson, let's collectively hope that this kid spends the rest of his childhood being denied everything he wants.

And here are some links to the story:

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