The Baseball Rat: Please Don't Phone Home

By the nature of their definition, trends come and go. What is the "thing to do" now won't be so hip down the road; at least we hope so with some trends. Right now, there is a routine that happens at every major league ballpark, no matter the teams or the game situation. It's annoying and driven by ego and we just want it to stop.

The idea to put advertising behind home plate was annoying enough. Now, we're constantly bombarded with ads to buy a car, get specific tires for that car and then drive to a specific store to buy a specific kind of soda so that we can come home sit on a specific type of chair and watch a specific team on a specific type of television set. It was inevitable. And, at least it adds to the revenue stream, which brings in players like Jim Thome and Billy Wagner.

More annoying than those ads is a trend that brings in zero revenue.

I'm talking about the dweebs who feel the need to pick up their cell phone, call friends and family, have them tune into the game and then sit there waving for three innings of the ball game. Get a freakin' life! We all see you. Your friends and family undoubtedly know that you're at the game and that you have seats behind home plate and you might be seen on TV. Set up a VCR for those that miss it and you can relive the experience over and over and actually get to see the look on their faces when your face is on TV.

At least during Wednesday night's Phillies game, there was a little revenge. Behind home plate is a young girl, waving with all her might to multiple friends that she has spent the entire night calling on her cell phone. At times, she's even passing the phone to the guy next to her so he can wave and listen as people at home wave back, I guess. Even if he's not on the phone, she's getting him to wave. Anyway, it's a crucial spot in the game and Pat Burrell is at the plate. As chicky-poo is doing her best to alert the nation to the fact that she's at the game, Burrell fouls a shot straight back at her and her cell phone and into the netting. I have to admit, part of me wanted that netting to snap so that her friends would have had a memorable sound effect to go with the experience. I had to settle for the fact that she ducked and scrambled like a gold fish with a cat reaching into the bowl. With any luck, she at least dropped the cell phone and broke the thing.

The problem is getting worse. Now, people sitting down the base lines realize that they too can be annoying. When the batter steps to the plate, the camera angle is different and they can join in the annoying little game of wave to the folks at home.

There's a whole genre of wavers. There are the "oh, my gosh, I'm on TV and everyone wants to look at me instead of the game" wave. These folks are usually younger girls, who may or may not realize there is a ball game going on. They're young, so you can cut them a little slack. The "I'm too cool to wave, so I'll just sort of gently acknowledge the camera" folks are usually the younger guys. They're slouched down in their seat and it's not unusual for them to be wearing a Tommy Hilfiger hat and/or shirt. "The meek shall inherit the Earth" wavers are slightly embarrassed by the whole being on TV idea, but still, can't miss the opportunity to put the phone to their ear and let everyone know they're at the game.

The worst is when you see a guy at the game with his kid and he gives the kid the phone and teaches him the trick. Great. A whole next generation of cell phone wavers. If a Dad is teaching a kid that trick, who knows what else he's teaching him.

Equally annoying are the fans who I guess, can't afford cell phones. They make little signs that say "Hi Bob" and wave them whenever they think the camera might be on them.

Maybe, fans should have to get a license to attend games. We could make them at least go through strict check points at the ballpark. If you have a cell phone and are sitting anywhere near where a camera may hit you, the phone is confiscated. You can get it back when you leave and spend your trip home talking to everyone to find out if they saw you on television. Of course, you would be doing this while you're weaving in and out of traffic.

Also, if you're wearing a business suit, you can't get in. There are no business suits at baseball games, unless you own the team and you're sitting in your personal owners box. Even then, it's a little pompous. President Bush was at the opener in St.Louis and even he didn't wear a suit. He's the President. He could wear whatever he wants, but he knows that you don't wear a suit to a ball game. Get over it. If I was ever sitting near someone wearing a suit at a game, you know my beer is going to spill in their direction. It might even knock my ketchup, mustard and relish covered hot dog out of my hand on its way toward the guy!

Yes, while technology has improved the way games are televised, technology has also brought out the nerds in a lot of us.

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