This One Bad Apple (Fan) Needed to be Plucked!
I still remember the day when my father’s gas station had a third bathroom designated for a certain racial group. It bothered me even as a young child because my church bible school told us we should love our brothers and sisters no matter what.
I attended a Pinellas County High School where our own Junior Varsity football team wore rebel flags on the shoulder pad region of our jerseys. This was done because the first name of our school was “Dixie” and not intended to for racial segregation or dissemination.
Around that time period my Southern middle-class school was learning a hard lesson in social responsibility and equality. Harmony and change did not come easy, but it happened. …slowly. That was over 30 years ago that we began a social conscientious process of changing, of evolving, of maturing to accept that same church bible school reasoning.
A lot has changed since the evolution of that racial tide to go from arrogance and insensitivity to understanding and harmony within our community as a whole. Not only as a Southern society did we gain tolerance, but we also shed that huge snakeskin of racial ignorance and became a more conservative human race.
Then something like the horrific events connected to the Tampa Bay Rays versus the Baltimore Orioles happen and you wonder just how much of that change locally was cosmetic and not internally digested into our lifestyles. If you have not heard about the event yet, an opposing view fan decided to announce his own vicious barrage towards Rays CF B J Upton while he was standing in the open air Rays dugout.
This episode bothers me deep down within my Southern Son’s soul. The language will not be repeated here, but it would have contained a few censor marks much like this from MLBlogs (**** ****). Suddenly this one fan set back this region racially almost 30 years with his venom-packed comments. I do not hold the team whose jersey he wore ( not the Rays) in any way responsible since they can not censor a First Amendment right, but this foul-mouth baboon was in violation of a simple human right…respect one another.
I will be the first person to stand up and say I have thrown a tirade towards Umpire crews and opposing players for great players. But Have never and would never direct a venom-laced racist statement towards a player, umpire or a field staff member. How is something like that even considered “constructive”?
Was the fan hoping Upton ( who is a big HOCKEY fan ) would leave the Rays dugout area like a hockey player and chase him through the stands. I can assure you, someone would have tripped him up hoping he knocked himself out on the way to the concrete steps. Was this all an attention based move by a Twitter twerp who still professing innocence even after Rays Coaches and players attest to his horrific comments.
I commend Rays Manager Joe Maddon for getting the attention of the Rays security staff and getting that piece of garbage escorted out of the Charlotte Sports Park. That kind of fan is not wanted and should not be tolerated in this day and age. 30 years ago I felt embarrassed and humiliated by the action of some of my peers when it came to those kind of comments. Today, it angers me to the point of confrontation.
It did not matter what jersey he wore, or his upbringing at that point. It was a show of complete disrespect and reversal of everything we had done for years. Sure the fan thought he was being “cute” or being a passionate fan by his comments, but what he needed was a beating. I personally do not tolerate that talk from people. If a friend says it, even in jest, I am done with them. I have a Zero Tolerance for ignorance and stupidity.
I understand “heat of the moment” statements proceeded by anger and rage, but to direct it towards an MLB player in the middle of a contest? Absurd is too simple a word. A fan like that using that sort of insane directive should be banned from the ballpark..period. And not just for one game or the rest of the Spring.
Arrogance like that can breed with a few more adult beverages. Ignorance can spread like a cold if done in the right environment, but the ballpark is not a place for either infectious insane behavior. I might have firmly popped myself on the soapbox here, but this can not be tolerated.
What if Upton had jumped up and proceeded to rearrange the guy’s facial features…..Upton would be held criminally and personally accountable and the guy would be considered a victim by some people’s standards. Sportsmanship also applies to us in the stands.
Sure we give it back to Boston and New York fans in my section of the Trop., but it is done within boundaries and not personalized by race, color or creed……Accents are not off limits though.
My father once told me a tale of Bob Gibson while he was in St. Petersburg during the Cardinals Spring Training in the 1960’s going into a diner and asking to be served. The man behind the counter said “We do not serve your kind at the counter”. My Father told me Gibson looked the man right in the face and told him, “well, if you don’t serve ballplayers, that is okay”. And left. Now that is tolerance from a man famous for a temper.
In the end, this country and the Tampa Bay community went through a long learning process of equality until it actually became a reality. It is a pity that one stupid fool has reversed that whole chain of change with a tirade of racial stupidity. Maddon did the right thing, Upton did the right thing, now can we all still keeping doing the right thing in the stands. Zero tolerance for ignorance.