Thursday, August 16, 2007

Baltimorons or Huckleberries?

As Baltimore leaves town after winning some meaningless games (for them), and after the Yankees honored the great Phil Rizzuto during Tuesday night's game, this tale seems particularly appropriate.

In 1994, mere days before the strike that ended up cancelling the World Series and ruining Don Mattingly's best chance to win a title, the Yankees honored Phil Rizzuto at the Stadium for his election to Cooperstown.

The Yankees were playing the Orioles, over whom they held a comfortable lead in the A.L. East. The Yankees were fielding their best team in years, and the Orioles were a good, solid second-place club, led by Mike Mussina, Cal Ripken Jr., and a couple of guys who have never taken steroids: Raffy Palmeiro and Brady Anderson.

Rizzuto came out on the field before the game to a thunderous ovation from fans who recognized his enshrinement was long overdue. Everyone in attendance was given a print of a Leroy Neiman painting of Scooter in action. It was a truly a warm, magical day.

Um...except for the upper deck section in which my friends and I were sitting. A couple rows ahead of us sat three Orioles fans who heckled and crowed throughout the game because the Orioles were winning. They conveniently ignored the fact that there team was 7 games out of first place with a month and a half (supposedly) remaining in the season.

These three men were loud, obnoxious, arrogant assholes, and not your typical ballpark assholes, either. They were middle-aged, clearly well-to-do, and dressed in shorts and sandals, a horrible hybrid of yuppies and dorks. If cell phones had been prevalent in 1994, they would surely have been on theirs the entire time, talking golf with buddies and calling the wife to make sure she had made reservations at the Hard Rock Cafe. I hated them immediately and violently.

Sometime in the middle of the game, after much bad-natured taunting between these douches and all the Yankees fans within shouting distance, one of them stood up, turned to face the crowd, held up the Leroy Nieman print of the Scooter...and tore it in half.

There were gasps. Then, there were obscenities. Loud, angry obscenities. The term "Baltimorons" was bandied about. But, being the peace-loving Yankees fans were are, no physical harm came to the douches, and they sat back down in peace.

Now, while all this was going on, the gentleman sitting immediately to my left grew increasingly agitated. He was a large fellow, on the wrong side of 300 pounds, and he was wearing a tank top. An attractive young lady sat directly behind him, and often throughout the game reached her hand down and under his tank top to massage his right nipple and bulbous man-breast.

As the game wound down, my friends and I remained incensed at the Baltimorons and their sacrilege (seriously, go ahead and root for the visiting team, shout whatever you want, but show some fucking respect in someone else's ballpark). So, as soon as the game ended, we persuaded the large man to my left to pour his full cup of beer over the head of the douche who ripped up the picture. He did just that, to rapturous applause.

And that's how we honored Phil Rizzuto that day.