I've sat in front of, behind, and immediately next to some incredible blowhards at the approximately 8,000 baseball games I've attended, but the man behind me at Sunday's Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay game takes the cake. He was with three girls (who I assumed were his children) and a woman (who I assumed to be his wife), but JF suggested after the game that he had the demeanor of someone who was dating the woman and getting to know her children. Either scenario is grim. If the couple is indeed married, and factoring in the age of the children, the wife is the longest-suffering human being on Earth, bar none. If they are not married, the children were forced to endure an excruciating rite of passage (the 13-inning game lasted nearly five hours), and the woman, if sane, will not only deny any future meetings, but will immediately change her phone number, and perhaps the locks as well.
What inspires such ill will in me? I admit that some of it stems from his sheer ignorance of baseball. As the game stretched into extra innings, he kept insisting that the longest major league game was 21 innings, though it was 26. He also kept loudly teaching the kids -- as if they could care about anything less -- that baseball players are "super-superstitious," and this is why no pitcher will ever wear any number between 0 and 9. This is despite two facts that spring to mind: Boston's David Wells, a pitcher, once wore No. 3 in honor of his hero, Babe Ruth. And Pittsburgh's own Rick White wears No. 00. When White appeared in this very game and one of the younger daughters -- whose IQ must be an order of magnitude higher than that of her father/stepdad/problem -- suggested that this left his theory in tatters, he adamantly defended himself by saying that 00 is technically two digits, not one. Normally, I might be tempted to agree with him, but two things: 1. He was so thoroughly idiotic about every other subject; and 2. He was vehemently arguing to save face with a child.
But it wasn't just baseball ignorance, it was the worst kind of empty baseball piety. The first inning alone brought these gems, shouted in the direction of the helpless females in his company: "Statistically, it's very bad to walk the lead-off man;" "Pitcher is a very psychological position;" and "Catchers tend to know a lot about baseball." That's funny, because I thought walking a lead-off man was statistically negligible, pitchers were robots, and professional second baseman knew a little bit about baseball, too. It went on like this for hours. And I normally wouldn't mention it, but I know that a few friends reading this -- notably, JW and BB -- will appreciate it, and that the rest of you are interested in my rage more generally. --JW