by Lee Porter
(Editor's Note: The views expressed below do not necessarily represent those of ZWR Publishing, LLC or its staff. I don't really care what you do at games, yo)
It’s October, and alas there are no postseason baseball games being played in Philadelphia this year, yet again. (I wish I had an image of “the Phanatic consoling me as I cry” to insert here.) They call baseball a “gentleman’s game,” and this past season, it struck me how many fans at baseball games (not just in Philly) act rather … un-gentlemanly, shall we say. I’m not talking about simply getting drunk at a game. If you can afford it, put down all the ten-buck beers you want (and buy me one, too, while you’re at it), as long as you behave. In fact, most of the clueless fans that made me scratch my head were dead-sober, family folk, who seemed more intent on experiencing games like visits to theme parks or malls than actually watching the games themselves. This same behavior (or lack thereof) is visible at basketball, football and hockey games, too.
I attend sports games to actually watch the games. What a novel idea, right? I try to get to the park/stadium/center early or on time, at the very least. I watch for the intricacies of the game, which my father taught me about since we started going to ballgames together at the Vet back in the early 1980s. I converse with fans seated around me about strategies, bad calls, controversial plays and so forth. Believe me, I love Citizens Bank Park, the LINC and Wells Fargo Center (to a degree), too. In addition to the live games they showcase, they are great places to have fun -- great (unhealthy) food, a variety of beers to enjoy (as I’ve chronicled at CBP for two seasons in a row and counting) and games and fun for the kids to have, too. Heck, these sports venues are my homes away from home. And I personally choose to enjoy them by taking advantage of the games that are played at these venues. Now if you so choose to enjoy the food and fun in the concourses instead of watching the games, that’s fine by me – more power to you. The odd behavior I’m examining in this piece stems from those fans who want to have their game-cake and eat their crab fries-cake, too.
So in honor of National Do Something Nice Day [Saturday October 5th], I’ve made some suggestions by which we should all try to abide when at the park, stadium or arena. Be sure to share it with “That Guy From Work” or “Your Cousin’s Boyfriend” or “Your New Neighbor” next time you attend a game with a rookie spectator.
The Idiot’s Guide to Not Being an Idiot at the Stadium
- Rule #10: Do not exit your row in the middle of an at-bat. It’s the middle of the fifth inning, there’s a man on first and third, Domonic Brown swings through a low-and-inside fastball. The crowd groans and eagerly awaits the next pitch. So now it’s an 0-1 count, the opposing pitcher steps on the rubber and … someone in your row stands up to exit. What the Ph-anatic?! Do not exit your row in the middle of an at-bat, field goal attempt, jump shot or power play. Wait until the play or at-bat ends, and even then, if the football team is hustling to get a new play off or the pitcher gets right back on the rubber right away, simply wait until the next real stoppage in play.
- Rule #9: Do not head to your seat during play, even if the ushers let you in. You still have to walk down the aisle, trouble everyone to stand up and then get all the way to your seat. Out of respect to your fellow fans, just wait until there’s enough stoppage of play for you to really make it all the way back to your seat before the next play/pitch. Understandably, both of these rules can be tweaked if you are seated on the aisle seats or extremely close to them.
- Rule #8: Do not stand up in the middle of an about-to-be exciting play. Chase Utley rounds third base, the rightfielder has a cannon and throws to home plate, Chase lowers his shoulder to the catcher and … the guy in front of you stands up and blocks your view of the collision at the plate. What the Ph-anatic?! Don’t stand up in the middle of an about-to-be exciting play. If the entire crowd stands up, of course enjoy the pandemonium. But when the pass is about to be intercepted or when there’s a breakaway dunk in the early minutes of a basketball game, don’t be the first guy to stand up when no one else rises. Obviously, this rule should be tweaked when someone immediately in front of you stands up and blocks your view.
- Rule #7: Don’t walk to the concourse to get a domestic beer without going to the bathroom. Cliff Lee just struck out the batter for the first out of the second inning. The crowd cheers, and four guys in your row excuse themselves. Cliff Lee strikes out the next batter, and all four guys return. They each have two domestic beers in their hands, and there’s no way in heck there was enough time to go to the bathroom. Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s no need to leave your seat for a domestic beer. Believe me, the beer vendors walk around selling American brews all the time (maybe even when we sleep through the night), and they will find you. Look there’s a vendor (with a parrot on his shoulder) coming your way right now.
- Rule #6: If you’re in the middle of a section, rotate your entrance/exits of your row by using both aisles of your section. Don’t always bother the same people. Share the up-and-down dance with all your neighboring fans on both sides of your row.
- Rule #5: Don’t try to entertain your section by yelling. Darren Ruf’s first at-bat, someone yells out: “Ruf Dog!” During his second at-bat, the same fan yells: “Hey, Ruf Dog, who let the dogs out?!” During his third at-bat: “Snoop Doggy Ruf!” Pipe down, all you aspiring Andrew Dice Clays. If we wanted to laugh at obnoxious wittiness, we would have stayed home to watch The James Franco Roast. Unless you are lucky enough to be in the first handful of rows, save your breath – the players cannot hear you from your seat.
- Rule #4: Keep it clean. There are kids at the games. Boo all you want, but show a little class with the foul language. You don’t have to go there.
- Rule #3: Police your shorties. Sure, kids are going to throw temper tantrums when you refuse to buy them cotton candy. That doesn’t mean that your kids can scream at the top of their lungs right in our ears whenever the mammoth video display says “Make Some Noise.” (EDITOR'S NOTE: That actually cracks me up; let your kids yell all they want) While you’re at it, it would be nice if your fidgety children would stop kicking the back of our seats the entire game. Get tickets in the row directly behind the visiting team’s bench/bullpen if they really can’t stop. They deserve it, not your fellow fans.
- Rule #2: Never stand up to pay for food or drink. Newsflash: the vendor and your fellow fans will pass your food/drinks and cash/change back and forth for you. Don’t stand there counting your money and putting it back in your wallet. Sit down already, Mr. Monopoly!
- Rule #1:
Don’t be this guy (getting tasered for rushing the field) ...
Don’t be this guy (and throw beer at Shane Victorino) …
And definitely don’t be this guy (vomiting on a young fan at the game) ...
* A few additional things to consider: (a) Waiving across the stadium at whoever you’re talking to on your cellphone during the game (you look like an idiot); (b) The Wave (a purist vs. modernist fan debate); and (c) Thundersticks (ugh). Obviously, when everyone is standing up for a playoff game, Opening Day, Monday Night Football or overtime, these rules can be tweaked – or entirely chucked away – when necessary.
When attending a game, enjoy the crab fries all you want. Just respect the fans who are there to simply watch the game. Game on! Play ball!
Lee Porter is the writer/producer of the award-winning comedy Web series My Ruined Life, which is entering its third season this coming winter, and the founder/editor of the food/drink site Chocolate Covered Memories. He has compiled the annual Good Brews at Citizens Bank Park Spreadsheet for two years in a row and counting. Lee’s work has been featured on Comcast SportsNet, The Gaggle, Liminal Fiction, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com, Shmitten Kitten, Zoo With Roy (prior ZWR post here) and even tweeted by Questlove. Lee lives in Philadelphia.