Thursday, July 22, 2010

Helmet Throws And Other Temper Tantrums

"Get mad, then get over it." ~Colin Powell

At every baseball game the PA announcer is required to read a statement of liability saying something to the effect of, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please be aware at all times for balls and/or bats flying into the stands at any time during the game." I've seen both happen. I've seen little old ladies eating their hot dogs only to be surprised by a foul ball in their laps. I've seen grown men scramble for an illusive bat that slipped from the batter's hands on a rainy day and landed 12 rows deep. Baseball can be dangerous too. I've had the displeasure to see fans get hit in the mouth with a blistering foul ball traveling 100+ mph, and others fall from their seats in attempting to catch said foul ball. As baseball fans, we get it. Bring a glove, watch the game, don't spill your beer...pretty simple really.

What you don't know is the liability statement we each have to abide by in the dugout. In addition to batted balls and wayward bats, we must also be aware of bouncing helmets, post inning glove throws, not to mention the verbal rampages. Baseball players tend to be like thread on a spool. Every failure winds them up a little tighter until one puts them over the edge and they snap. For hitters it is most typically the helmet throw, sometimes in combination with a bat toss. They stomp into the dugout and you can see it in their eyes. They toss the bat aside as if it's defective and then take the helmet in hand. Finding a perfect spot on the ground and focusing in on it, the world around them seems to go dark. They raise the helmet to the sky cursing the "baseball gods" and send the equipment crashing to the ground in a cathartic explosion. While they are wrapped up in their childish antics, the rest of us just happen to be crowded into the same 20 ft dugout covering our faces and jewels so as not to become casualties of failure along with the helmet.

What really gets to me, though, is the unnecessary blow up. A pitcher throws 7 shutout innings only to give up 2 in the 8th. Not really cause to throw your glove across the dugout and scream obscenities in the direction of the family of four seated in the first row. In the same way, a hitter slaps a scalding liner off the pitcher's foot that bounces straight to the first baseman. Two steps out of the box then right back to the bench. While i'm in the middle of giving some encouraging cliches, I see the helmet whizz by my face only inches from smashing the thing it's made to protect. A player to be named later did just this yesterday, and I kinda lost it. This was the 4th or 5th time i've been threatened by flying helmets this season, and it's just a matter of time until one finds me. I picked up the discarded helmet, brought it back to the player, and slammed it on the bench right beside him. I yelled, "You hit the ball hard! What are you mad about?" I tossed the helmet to the other end of the dug out and told him to put it away like a good boy. Call me dramatic, but my self preservation instinct is unpredictable. Nobody said don't get upset. Everyone has the right to be disappointed. Just do it in the clubhouse, wait until no one is around, and get it all out without endangering anyone. Get mad, but please get over it when my face is nowhere near your helmet.

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