Sunday, October 24, 2004

A (Hopefully) Funny Story

Watching the Red Sox/Cards World Series feels kinda like watching your worst enemy from High School take your unrequited love to the prom. I need an icebreaker.

I'll take my brother's advice, and start with a (I hope) funny anecdote from the Twins/Yankees ALDS matchup:

One bit of the ALDS Game 2 experience I shamefully omitted from my wrapup was the post-winning run celebration. To set the stage, the Stadium was rockin' going into Hideki Matsui's at-bat in the bottom of the 12th inning. The House that Ruth Built had emptied out some -- a combination of weak folks who didn't hang in there when Minnesota took the lead on Hunter's homer in the top of the inning, and some others who simply didn't want to lose their jobs by showing up late the next day.

There were still plenty of people around to party, though, and after A-Rod's game-tying double, and during the intentional walk and pitching change that followed it, people were running up and down the rows (remember, I was in row T of the upper deck -- running up and down the aisles is ill-advised) high fiving and hugging strangers, celebrating.

So Matsui hits one shallow to Jacque Jones, the entire crowd lets out a gasp as Jeter comes running home (I took a split second to double check the third-base coach's box, where I was sure The Windmill, Willie Randolph, must have replaced Luis Sojo during the pitching change).

Jeter scores, and we're really partying now. We're all chanting "Lets Go Yankees", the P.A. is blaring the good "New York, New York" (how could I not hate Liza Minelli? She's what they play when we lose). Everyone is trying to share the love.

Now, the guy standing directly in front of me, a silver-haired guy maybe in his 50's, turns on his heel to high five me. And I'm there, leanin' forward, waiting for the high five. As always, I'm wondering what kinda high five I'm in for: the uncoordinated nerd-slap; the "yeah! I'm so happy I'm gonna break your hand!" open-faced karate chop; the "I don't like touching people" tap on the palm ... but the silver-haired guy's high five never arrives.

That's because as he cocks his arm back for the high five, the guy loses his footing and pitches backward. Again, we're in row T of the upper deck. We're in the middle of the row, so most of the people below him have cleared out, heading for exits. I'm reaching forward for him, but he just goes tumbling on his back across at least a half-dozen rows of hard blue plastic seats. I'm screaming, something I hope is "watch out!" but is probably just an inarticulate "hey!", but it doesn't matter, because everyone is screaming -- we're in Yankee Stadium, for Chrissakes!

Nobody notices this guy's plummet until he slams into a woman at full bore. I'm thinking this guy is dead, broke his neck or something. I'm already imagining the Daily News front page:

One Dead, One Injured In Celebration of Yankees' 12-Inning Win
[Large splash picture of Jeter fist-pumping after scoring winning run]
[lower, and in smaller print, but next to my passport photo]
Long Island Attorney Questioned In Tragic "High Fiving" Accident

Thank heaven, both the silver-haired guy and the woman seemed fine, and walked away on their own steam. But this has to've been the weirdest thing I've ever seen at Yankee Stadium.


Now, I wrote that piece a week ago, but never had a chance to drop it on ya til now. That was before the death of Victoria Snelgrove outside of Fenway last Wednesday night, which is being reported as death at a "celebration". This is tragic, all-around. First of all, it turns out that she died from use of a "less lethal" weapon, a pepperspray gun that the cops had bought to use during the Democratic National Convention in August. This might go a ways in explaining why the cops were so quick to to use force in the face of the post-game crowd: they'd spent a chunk of the year training to beat back crowds of anarchists spiked with the occasional terrorist, and now they were facing an entirely different type of crowd.

On the other hand, all the folks (and although we've heard the "revelers" described as "college students" I keep on reading eyewitness accounts from people in their 30's in the crowd) that started the mini-riot near Fenway also have some blood on their hands.

Maybe it's just me, but I've never been so "happy" that I felt like getting some people together to flip over a car, or set something on fire, or throw bottles at a cop. It's stupid, the stuff of a Chris Rock routine.

It is also inherently dangerous, not only because you can harm someone by turning over their car, or lighting them on fire, or hitting them with a bottle. It's also dangerous because it requires the municipality to respond with armed police officers, and because with a crowd of substantial size, you run risks of trampling folks if there's any sort of panic.

So sure, I hope that the Boston police improve their tactics, so that tragedy doesn't accompany the "celebration" should the Red Sox win the World Series. But I also hope that Boston fans get a damn grip on themselves. Hard enough to accept that they could win a World Series, without knowing that people'll probably get killed when they do.

Now that my rant has exhausted itself, I'll just say it: I'm not cheering against the Sox in this series. I'm definitely not cheering for them, and I realize that life will be close to unlivable for a few years if the Sox win. The Red Sox winning this World Series would be almost as noxious and hyperbolic as the Mets were in '86 ("It's a miracle! It's destiny! We're the best team ever! This is the most important moment in human history! God sent an Angel and his name is Curt Schilling!").

But at least if the Red Sox win, after a few years of this over bearing crap, that's it. No more martyrdom. No more stupid curse talk. No more whining and crying every time they lose a damned playoff game, like someone in the family just died. They'd just be another big-city team with a high payroll and an overbearing fanbase. That's worth something.

On the other hand, it'd also be fun to see the Cardinals take these idiots apart like a bucket of Millar's fried chicken. I've always liked Rolen and Edmonds and Pujols and it'd be nice to see those guys get rings.

So I'm just sitting back and enjoying this one. I hope you're doing the same.

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