So I took in a ball game the other night, which is nice enough to say in itself, but was even better because I had box seats right behind home plate. This means yes, great seats, but also a bonus: a pulsing level of meathead idiocy rarely found outside of a junior varsity locker room or the comments section on the Maxim website. This is the rabble that I'm talking about. The seething mob which absorbs a good portion of the stadium crowd, which spews flat insults and stupid comments at the other team, taking the heads of ballplayers and chewing on them for two and a half hours.
The best thing about baseball is that the pace is really relaxed, which means you can not just focus on the game but also on laying down a healthy blanket of peanut shells on the ground and reading the Post's 25 tips for being a man in the city (at the center of Wednesday's paper, read it, its as amazing as you would guess). It also gives people a lot of time to think up to think up really creative insults for the opposing players, which they don't use, instead wiling away the hours by chanting "asshole" over and over.
The mob mentality here can be kind of scary if you take it seriously, but really its just kind of a harmless, neutered form of lashing out which is pretty hilarious if you approach it the right way. Looking at it evenly I decided there are three main groups inside of the rabble.
The first is the guys you'd expect, guys with fat hands and sloshy Queens accents who spend their Sundays screaming at the television like it was murdering their children. Guys named Bruno, who name their kids Bruno and their dogs Bruno (or Spike or something), who come from long-lines of garbage men and eat pastrami sandwiches every day of their lives. And no, garbage men is not intended as pejorative, I have a lot of respect for guys who wake up before dawn to do back-breaking, society-cleaning work and accordingly, this part of the rabble is the only one that's bearable. Sometimes they even get creative and when they do its amazing. A guy behind me was shooting out gems for the majority of the game and at one point roared "ZIMMERMAN, YOU'LL NEVER MAKE IT OUT OF DAVID WRIGHT'S SHADOW", and I still can't comprehend how he managed this entire sentence in a single, unwavering bellow.
With these guys their rage is sort of playful and more about invoking the tradition of proud, intense booing than anything else. There's also the barely concealed anger that grows from watching grown men play games for exorbitant salaries and the feeling that comes with watching those men disappoint you a good portion of the time. They (rightly) feel a certain level of entitlement because they're also basically paying these guys salaries.
If this the entire rabble was like everything would be fine and we could all rush off to some tavern afterward and spill beer all over the place, but this being the prime seats the dainty upper crust of the rabble was there in full force. Of course these are the worst people, because they are patently out of touch with the rest of the crowd and stretch so mightily to reunite themselves with their brothers in heckling that you start to feel sore from the strain. This results in a lot of embarrassing noise. There are two sections here. The first is people who have a passing knowledge of the game and allow this knowledge to convince them that they fully understand what's going on. They don't. They are amateurs who played little league for two years and have been to three Yankees games in the last fifteen years. Which is fine, until they start shouting things that don't make sense and questioning the fundamental rules of the game like they are some staggering genius who has just discovered the loophole to a 160 year old problem.
The guy next to me was a prime example - a pony-tailed, cargo-shorted douche who'd just gotten back from South America (I learned a lot about him) and wouldn't stop talking about Israel and Israelis and his booming sense of Jewish self. He sounded like he had wandered in from the Sociology department at Queens college, the kind of guy who uses the phrase "my philosophy on life." His understanding of what was going on was shaky at best and at one point he stood up and shouted "hit him in the head" about a batter on the other team, like this wasn't something a third grader with no sense of bodily harm would say. Seriously dude? Is your inability to perceive the line between a sporting event and reality so complete that you have to act like you're watching professional wrestling?
Even worse is the businessman, who comes to the game with clients that he's trying to impress and thus has to impress them by acting like a total buffoon, which is of course what people do at baseball games and so he has to do it twice as hard. The businessman understands baseball because he played on the intramural squad at community college and describes the color of his blood as being the same as that of his favorite team. He uses this knowledge for evil however, or more accurately he doesn' t use it at all (notice this theme) because all his time is spent yelling the most boring insults imaginable at the opposing players. This is made exponentially worse by the fact that we were close enough for them to be in hearing range, and resulted in exchanges like the following:
Drunken Hedge Fund Manager: Hey [player]. Turn around
Player in the On-deck circle: [stands facing the field]
Drunken Hedge Fund Manager: Turn around.
Player: [stands facing the field]
Drunken Hedge Fund Manager - (long, exaggerated pronunciation of player's name) turn around
Player: [stands facing the field]
Drunken Hedge Fund Manager - YOU SUCK!
Their need to prove their undying support for the team ranges on desperation because its directly connected with their need to convince the client that they are a regular guy and know about regular guy things and approach them in a regular guy way (read: shouting, drinking $8.50 aluminum bottles of Bud Light and cackling like a hyena).
The basic lesson I've learned from all this is that heckling is just another thing that could be great with a little effort but instead cruises along endlessly on a tide of facile mediocrity. Like TV sitcoms, or America. So I started to think up some taunts that would be more effective in unhinging players in the on-deck circle. I use Elijah Dukes of the Washington Nationals as an example because he got the crowd riled up and everyone seemed to be picking on him:
ELIJAH DUKES YOUR CAT IS VERY SICK
ELIJAH DUKES I THINK YOU LEFT THE PILOT LIGHT ON THE STOVE
ELIJAH DUKES GLOBAL WARMING IS A SERIOUS ISSUE
ELIJAH DUKES YOUR SON IS ONLY EIGHT AND ALREADY HAS DANGEROUSLY HIGH CHOLESTEROL, WHAT ARE YOU FEEDING HIM
This would be something I would have done if I wasn't a poltroonish weakling who writes his thoughts on the internet. I also considered doing the opposite: being nice. Why can't we be nice to the other team, especially since they're our guests. I mean, we can't, because that ruins the spirit of competition, but if we could, I might yell:
ELIJAH DUKES YOUR HAIR LOOKS GOOD THAT WAY
ELIJAH DUKES YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL SINGING VOICE
ELIJAH DUKES I'D LOVE TO READ YOUR MEMOIRS
This is something I would genuinely like to do and I will consider adding it to my list of 100 things to do before I die, the creation of which is on my list of 25 things to do before I'm 30.