So back in March, I was applying for the MLB Dream Job thing, and part of the application process was an essay on What The Biggest Story of 2011 Will Be. (Or Who Will Be MVP).
I had no clue what to write about. None. I mean, part of me wanted to write about how the biggest story is going to be Matt Kemp's discovery of his ability to fly. Or The Sizemore Scandal, where Grady turns out to have a twin who plays for him every other week. You get the idea. No one knows what's gonna go down, and like Sterling likes to remind us, "baseball's a funny game."
(I choked at last minute and wrote about instant replay.)
HOWEVAH, I think it's a safe bet that not one of the 5,000+ applicants wrote about what REALLY has been the most prominent theme this year:
THE GALACTICALLY HIGH PREMIUM PLACED ON THE CAUGHT FOUL BALL.
I'm not kidding. A few weeks ago, there's that gut-wrenching, heart-breaking story of the poor father/fireman who died trying to catch a ball for his son. I can't even think about it without getting a lump in my throat. (Fathers will do absolutely anything for their children. It's one of the most warming truths in existence.)
After this happened, you'd think there'd be a whole "put-things-in-perspective" element surrounding the hoops one is willing to jump through in order to obtain a ball from the game.
Instead, here's what has happened since the tragic incident at Rangers Ballpark:
1. Fan almost does exact same thing, on the very day of the Rangers fan memorial service.
2. Giants fan brat has his embarrassing pouting rewarded
3. Disgusting Diamondbacks loser throws his weight around
4. Disgusting unbranded woman takes candy from a baby
And amid all this nonsense and appalling rejection of normal social conduct, there's this:
What an amazing little boy. That was my first thought. Then I remembered... IT'S A FOUL BALL! I see it the same way I see dating. If one comes your way, cool! That's exciting! But assigning so much importance to it that you end up shedding your morals/standards or that you let the lack of one ruin your enjoyment of the game...that's..well, really? I mean, people are nuts.
Good on little Ian for shutting up the crying baby. He was either the most selfless 9-year old ever to take in a ballgame...or he was the most rational. Either way, that's good stock right there.
Maybe one day he can get together with the Phillies fan from last year, who also seemed to understand the insignificance of the foul ball cache.
You know, when there's the inevitable "How My Obsession with Snagging a Game Ball Has Changed My Life" summit.
You know, the same one that Mr. Bartman's predictably absent from each year.
So there you have it. At the halfway point in the 2011 season, the biggest story line this year has been the distortion of human pathos when it comes to grabbing that elusive ball at the stadium. Shannon Stone was being a diligent father. The rest of them (save Ian) were being diligent lunatics. And as someone with the word "crazy" in her moniker, I don't feel like I'm out of line in distinguishing the good wackos from the bad ones.
Any time you forget you're at a baseball game TO WATCH BASEBALL...that's bad crazy.
I'll take the good crazies--the ones who never stop screaming at the opposing team for 9 straight innings--every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
And as for the stadiums..just make your guard rails higher or something! Or make a rule all foul balls must be handed to the nearest kid or face ejection. I don't know. Whatever, this story line beats the steroid stuff, anyway.