To all stadium whiners: Sit down or pay the price

ROGER SIMON

September 13, 1992|By ROGER SIMON

So I go to Orioles Park and decide to sit in the worst seats to see what all the whining is about.

I park downtown for four bucks and walk toward the stadium. All along the street there are ticket scalpers offering me better seats.

Scalping is, however, illegal.

Though I have never understood why. These people paid for something, and now they want to sell it for a profit.

What is the difference between them and any merchant in town?

You think the guy selling beer for $2.50 bought the beer for $2.50?

Heck, no. He's making a profit.

So why can't you make a profit on a baseball ticket?

I don't know. But you can get arrested for it. Bobby Shriver was arrested in 1983 for scalping tickets at Memorial Stadium. And today he owns part of the Orioles.

If there is a lesson there, it escapes me.

(Bobby once worked at the Chicago Daily News when I worked at the Chicago Sun-Times. The papers were in the same building, and his desk was only about 100 yards from mine. We might have passed in the hall once. But does he call? Does he write? No. If he'd like to make up for this by inviting me to the owner's box for the rest of the season, I am sure I can remember some very nice anecdotes that reflect well on him.)

So I get to the crummy seats, which are as far down the right field line as you can get, just before the seats turn the corner and start facing home plate.

Which is what everybody is complaining about. The crummy seats face right field (unless you are in the crummy left field seats). And if you want to see home plate, you must crane your neck for nine innings.

So here is my advice to people stuck in these seats:

Crane your necks for nine innings, dummies!

What do you want? A chaise longue behind the pitcher's mound? Grow up. There are people starving.

OK, that's one problem solved. Now, let's tackle the other one:

Tempers run high in the crummy seat sections. That's because when anybody down-field of you stands up, your view of the plate is blocked.

And it is normal to stand up several times during a ballgame. (I tried this once at a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concert, and the lady behind me hit me with her fan.)

L So the people in the crummy seats are often in an ugly mood.

This night, there are five yuppie bankers to my right, who are yammering about the "financial climate" and "the money supply."

Directly in front of them is a father about 50 years old and his two sons in their late 20s. All are wearing scoop-necked, armless T-shirts. They are big, heavily muscled men and look like lumberjacks.

I am craning my neck watching the game when one of the lumberjack sons leaps up in his seat, turns on the banker in back of him and begins screaming: "I tole you not to put your freakin' feet on my freakin' seat. I tole you and I tole you. You freakin' do it again, and I am going to take you out and freakin' kill you!"

I am immediately on the side of the lumberjack. If you can't kill a banker in 1992, who the heck can you kill?

But there are all these families and kids in the crummy seat section, and the lumberjack has used an earthier word than "freakin.' "

And to my left, a woman says in a loud voice: "Somebody should do something about that man's disgusting language." And she looks at me.

So now I'm supposed to beat the lumberjack to within an inch of his life, right?

I'd love to do something, I whisper to the woman, but I have this steel plate in my head.

What I really wanted to do was show the woman one of the great quotations of all time on baseball behavior. It comes from Lt. Phil Farace, who was the top police officer at Memorial Stadium for years:

"I remember during a Colt game there was a real large gentleman using profanity like you wouldn't believe, so I decided to use some psychology on him. I said, 'Would you talk like that in front of your mother or your sister?' And he pointed to a woman on his right and said: 'I'd like you to meet my mother.' Needless to say, before halftime they were both locked up."

Which teaches us two things:

1. If you don't like to crane your neck, get in fights with lumberjacks or hear profanity, buy better seats from the scalpers.

2. If you bring your mom to a ballgame, be sure you bring bail, too.

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