National pastime: How it might be past your time

National pastime: How it might be past your time
June 22, 2010, 9:35 pm
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
4:13 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs played a makeup game in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. It was notable, not necessarily because the Cubs actually won a game in the Steel City, but because a young adult fan was spotted throwing his glove to the ground in disgust after a sought-after foul ball landed in someone else's hands. Can't beat rage at the ol' ballpark I guess. Heck...rage might be the norm in Pittsburgh, given their recent baseball history. But anyway, this guy made up for the tirade in a most ironic fashion. He actually caught another foul ball later in the game and promptly gave it to a little kid. Atta way. Seriously. This young guy was mature beyond his years in doing the right thing.

But not everyone acts this way.

Acting like a kid at a baseball game is akin to jumping on the bed in a hotel room. Sometimes we just can't help ourselves. The temptation is too great. But every once in a while, you spot where the "immaturity" has gone too far. I propose some age limits on random acts of ballpark lunacy. Like...

Bringing a Glove to a GamePainting your Face Or Body (age 18): Bringing a glove to game past age 18 is tantamount to showing up at a cocktail party with sandals and black socks. It might feel cool and comfortable, but it just looks...bad. And nobody between the ages of 18 and 65 should be hanging out in the face paint aisle at Hobby Lobby to begin with. That should be common sense. And if you insist on wearing an oversized novelty glove or one of those foam "We're Number One!" fingers, divide the number up above by two.

Hounding a Player for an Autograph (21): Depending on when you grew up, your hero could have been John F. Kennedy, Clint Eastwood, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan or even one of the Baldwins. Regardless of the era, there's a good chance that you grew up idolizing a baseball player. That should cease by age 21. Why? Because you're 21. You are the hero now. Just trust me on that one. Young people envy you because of the legitimate ID. Old people envy you because you don't have arthritis. Yet. Enjoy the ride.

Chasing After a Foul Ball (24): By the age of 24, you should have moved out of your parents wood-paneled basement. And you should be able to afford a whole bucket of baseballs by now. Instead of tearing an ACL going after a Russ Ohlendorf foul ball, let it go. Or if you do get it, give it to one of the seven kids, three ushers or five Cocoon castoffs you ran over en route.

Shouting Obscenities at Opposing Fans' Teams (30): Yelling at strangers might be acceptable if you're a burned out day trader in the pits (literally or figuratively). But once you hit 30, it's time to give the ballpark rage a break. The Pepto Bismol should be reserved for watching your team's weak bullpen mail in the game, not to ease the stress from yelling at the "bad guy" in front of you.

Wearing a Jersey to The Ballpark (35 for men, limitless for women): Once a man hits 35, it's time to give up the faded Augie Ojeda or Jose Valentin jersey--or any jersey for that matter. You're a Toys R Us kid no longer. You're an adult. Look the part. Women get a lifetime pass because they look better in jerseys anyway.

Getting to an Arthur Bach Level of Drunk (40): Who remembers the 1981 movie Arthur? It's the one where the hilarious Dudley Moore plays a carefree, drunken New York playboy. He finds true love in a waitress played by Liza Minnelli. I'm quite sure those two plot devices aren't connected. Arthur was to alcohol like how Wham was to 80's Cheese-Pop. Unfortunately, this behavior doesn't translate off the big screen. You're not a hero if you plow through seven whiskey sours before the game. Or blitz through 11 beers during it. Granted, this shouldn't be done at any age--with or without Hollywood credentials. But once a person passes 40, the drunken baseball fan looks more like an injured animal than a party animal.

And regardless of age, no fan should ever --under any circumstance-- do the wave (unless you're at a Badgers football game-- Wisconsin fans take the wave to astonishing heights). Sit down. Relax. Enjoy the game. Baseball is still a wonderful past-time. Just save the strength and go anti-wave. You'll thank me when you channel the extra energy to dig your car out of a snow embankment in five months.

Or something like that.

Coming soon: Tom Thibodeau and the Running of the Bulls

Follow Joe Collins on Twitter @JoeCSN