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By September 12, 2017Culture, Random/Rants

A fight breaks out at a sporting event and the immediate reaction of fans is instinctive and visceral. It’s human nature — cheers and jeers, shock and awe, taking sides and placing blame.

And it’s all fun and games … until you give it a second thought.

Upon reflection – and considering we’re in the throes of our nation’s season of discontent — the melee between the Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees that interrupted a beautiful Thursday afternoon (8-24-17) at Comerica Park left many fans with a bad taste in their mouth. Worse even than from the usual suspects — nachos, cotton candy, cheap mustard or expensive cheap beer.

The notorious basebrawl was covered by MLB, ESPN, even network news, from every recorded angle. Except, as it was, from the fans’ point of view. Seated in row four directly behind homeplate (thanks to comp. tickets from family members!), my wife Sharon and I watched the spectacle unfold 20 feet in front of us. Like witnessing a Greek tragedy or Redwings game in our living room.

As with most Yankees away games, plenty of fans were there to support their Bronx Bombers. So I felt comfortable sporting my Yankees gear and cheering for the visiting team. Until it got ugly and discretion overruled loyalty.

Alternately watching in amazement and succumbing to my instincts of photographer to capture the remarkable action, I was as surprised by what I heard and saw in the stands between rounds (the benches cleared three times) and then after the final bell.

It was a microcosm of our country’s presently fractured culture. You could hear as many fans screaming “Kill the sons of bitches!” as shrieking “Oh my god, oh my god!”

Beside us, a boy maybe 12 years old, shouted to his dad, “This is awesome!” To which the dad responded, “They should throw everybody out of the game,” to which the kid rightly observed, “But then they wouldn’t have anyone to play.”

The older couple in the first row, who we estimated to be the original season ticket holders, clasped hands as the wife looked at her husband in disbelief.

Directly behind us, a tearful middle-aged guy was being consoled by his daughter as he lamented the horrible example this is setting for all the children.

After all was said and done on the field, it felt as though a pall temporarily overcame the 32,000 fans within the stadium. Except for one still-cursing blowhard a few rows back, there seemed to be a collective, silent moment of reflection.

With the fragility and divisiveness of the country’s psyche these days, there’s no shortage of good-and-evil juxtapositions. Notably that day, before all hell broke loose in the bottom of the sixth inning, as the Yankees took the field for the first time, the 6’-7”, 282 lb. rookie sensation Aaron Judge knelt on the right field grass for his own ritual moment of reflection.



  • Gary Greenbaum says:

    What a mess. It’s sad to see adults act like children.

  • Dan says:

    I don’t know Gary. I’m thinking the adults acted more like adults than as children. MLB is a mans game, played by grown men with plenty on the line every time they step onto the field. I’m not advocating this brawl (and it was a solid one) shines a positive light for children or teens of any age. Regardless of the sport, what is seen at the amateur levels is far from the games on TV. No comparison, not the same game whatsoever. It doesn’t matter how you play the game at the major league level, winning is all that counts. And if you don’t play the game correctly, you’re out of a job. That heightens the intensity far more that at any amateur program. When you’re at the highest competitive level, you sometimes have to defend yourself against your opponents by mostly any means when they challenge yours and/or your teams integrity of playing this game correctly, among other matters that require defending. Most times I’m guessing, issues are resolved peacefully. I’ve never played a professional game or served in the military, but I guarantee I’d to go to any length to defend my teammates or the organization I represented.

    Hunter Strickland hitting Bryce Harper earlier this year has nothing in common with the Yankee/Tiger brawl. From my understanding, he took revenge from a personal battle a few years prior. Strickland’s a selfish POS concerned only with his personal efforts. It had nothing to do with the team. I’d have sent that SOB to AA to think about his actions and the relevance it had in his teams success.

    While on a roll, or rant, I want to comment on what I perceive to be one of the most hypocritical rituals in amateur sports. That is the post game hand shake/fist bump/etc. line between opposing teams. As I recall from many years prior, this evolved from two teams (the sport doesn’t matter) either having issues with one another or perhaps it escalated into a “skirmish” or a full blown fight. The next time they played, league officials made them shake hands. I get it. So how did this evolve into a ritual that no coaches or players care about, but are by early protocol, and now tradition, forced to participate in? With some 30 years in coaching, almost all at the HS level or above, I don’t recall this post game line meaning a damn thing. Does it create sportsmanship? Hell no! It’s like being forced to participate in a prayer on Thanksgiving day before you dig into the turkey and stuffing. I know I’ll catch shit on that one. Oh well. Most of the meaningless post game sayings consist of “good game, good game”. It’s all BS rhetoric (language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content). Almost nobody cares. Yes!, I am old school. When we played ball, the post game ritual was to find an opponent or several, or simply your opposite position, who stood out as game changers that day and impressed you. Having your opponent approach you to say you made a helluva play or way to come through with a two out RBI actually meant something. I can’t begin to convey the friendships that were made with other players after the game in that fashion. It was a sign of admiration and respect for your efforts and you knew they were appreciated from the other dugout or sideline.

    I now take a deep breath.

    • Thanks for the comment Dan. You present valid and experienced insights into the nature of competitive sports and teamwork in America. We should not be expected to outgrow what we’ve grow up being taught is right. No doubt more than a few professionals in the “real world” would like to settle things so forcefully.

  • Paul says:

    For Stu, Gary and Dan. All valid points, Cooperstown and any sports Hall of Fame is full of professionals hell bent on playing the game the way it’s always been done. Times may have changed but not the competitive/combative athlete. High fives, fist bumps or pointing to the heavens doesn’t change what fans turn out to watch as long as they win. God Bless America’s pastime and all our “Field of Dreams”.

  • The question is what happens the next time they play….perhaps shaking hands and expressing feelings about good efforts before the game would go a long way….that said, the hand shake at the end of the game at the amateur level while even at the level of good game…good game… I think was an important part of the experience at that level.

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