Armchair Manager #3: Tenth Player On the Field

Looking at how fans can affect the game.

Can I Have My Cell Back?
April 15, 2003 – Chicago, Illinois
The last time the Kansas City Royals played in Chicago, two fans, a man and his son, attacked Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. Seven months later, it almost happened again.

For whatever reason, a fan ran out of the stands in the eighth inning and decided he would try and tackle first base umpire Laz Diaz. Players and security quickly came to Diaz's aid and put away the miscreant.

April 18, 2003 – Los Angeles, California
Mike Kinkade up to bat, Jason Schmidt on the mound. Schmidt delivered, and Kinkade absolutely slaughtered the ball. It seemed like it was ticketed for the left field wall.

Not so. Barry Bonds made a spectacular catch, reminiscent of his Gold Glove days. Stretching out laterally at full length, Bonds slid on the grass and then onto the warning track, triumphantly holding up the baseball. When he finally stopped sliding, a shower of beer from the bleachers greeted him.

April 19, 2003 - Oakland, California
Carl Everett was standing in right field when something donked in him in the head. No, it wasn't an empty beer bottle. Nope, not a glass, and definitely not a soda can of any sort. Cmon, folks, get with the program! We're in the 21st century! Carl Everett was hit with… a cell phone.

Hey, I'm all for the fans getting into the game – but we have to draw the line somewhere! (And when I say "getting into" the game, I don't mean it literally, either.)

And there really isn't too much you can do to stop this kind of insanity. Where there's a will there's a way – heightened security won't work. The psychos will definitely find ways around it. Plus, fans who are there to enjoy the game will definitely be annoyed. However, until officials do find a way to stop fans from running onto the field (which they probably won't), the players will be held at that risk.

Fans are a huge part of the game, and luckily, it's not always negatively. Many players acknowledge the fans as the "tenth player" on the field. And it's true; players obviously react to and feed off a good crowd. Likewise, a dead crowd will totally kill any momentum they have. It's important for fans to be fans – and be nothing more.

Long Live the Rivalry
Gints. Dogheads. Gnats. Bums.

Beat LA. Beat LA. BEAT LA!

Rivalries – baseball just wouldn't be the same without them. Ask any Giants fan which team he or she hates the most, and 9 out of 10 will automatically say, "The Dodgers" without even thinking. (In case you were wondering, that last person either is a bandwagoner or will say the Yankees.)

It all started back before San Francisco and Los Angeles had baseball teams, back in the days of the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Back in the day, when even the players hated each other and would purposely try to injure members of the other team. Few know of the fact that Jackie Robinson, who is always attributed as a Dodger, was traded to the Giants. Such a monumental player, so why would so few people know? Because Robinson retired before for the Giants, deciding he'd rather end his career than to play a single inning for the orange and black he had learned to hate.

While the Giants-Dodgers rivalry may be among the strongest, there are a few other notable ones. The Yankees and Red Sox also have a long history, most significantly the Curse of the Bambino. Babe Ruth was a star pitcher on the Red Sox team when he was traded to the Yankees. The Red Sox have never won a World Series since. The Chicago Cubs and White Sox have a small rivalry as well, being that they play in the same city.

Heckling – Baseball Fan's Divine Right

LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRYYYYYYY!

WASSAMATTAWITH GREEEEEN? HE'S A BUM!

GOOOOONZOOOOOOOO!

HEY PITCH! I'VE SEEN BETTER PITCHING AT A T-BALL GAME!

Just because you're at a baseball game doesn't mean you should just sit back and watch. Like I said, you should get into the game – and a great way to do it is by heckling.

What is "heckling" exactly? Heckling is basically the fans trying to embarrass or irritate the players. Nothing delights a heckler more than to see the player he or she is heckling show external signs of annoyance. Like rivalries, heckling has always been a large part of baseball. Every true diehard acknowledges heckling and knows a good few – though whether they choose to use them or not varies upon the individual. Hey, the players are totally asking for it! They're like sitting ducks, with nowhere to hide.

However, baseball is moving toward a trend of fewer hecklers and more of the laidback fan. It seems fans now are on either end of the spectrum, with few in between. Next time you go out to the ballpark, bring your foam finger, put on your cap (with properly bent bill), and exercise your right as a baseball fan… and heckle!

Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at aznstarlite00@yahoo.com


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