Beware of flying objects at games

first_imgA few days ago, television cameras caught an unlucky Boston Red Sox fan getting pelted by a big slice of pizza after pulling a Steve Bartman on a foul ball. The image was instant YouTube fodder — who wouldn’t love watching one grown man plaster another adult with a big floppy piece of New York-style goodness?As the slice in question hung over the rail limply, like a sock on a doorknob, it was clear we had encountered just the latest embodiment of one of sports’ most unusual and entertaining idiosyncrasies: throwing objects at games.Ever since some toga-wearing and sandaled (Air Herc’s?) schmo in the Coliseum’s nosebleeds decided to start tossing rose petals on gladiators, fans have always had an obsession with truly bringing themselves into the action by hurling objects from the stands.The most fascinating aspect of this phenomenon is the wide array of objects that fans find to chuck from the stands.Look at the memorable 1979 Disco Demolition night at old Comiskey, where fans decided to start pitching John Travolta albums onto the field, en masse from the stands.Or how Cleveland Browns faithful decided to start throwing the stands themselves, tearing apart Cleveland Municipal Stadium and heaving chunks of the “Mistake by the Lake” onto the field, in protest of the team’s move to Baltimore.Imagine what they would’ve done had they known that their new Browns team would draft Tim Couch and Courtney Brown. The kitchen sink would’ve been a distinct possibility.In some cases, the objects in question are meant to be complimentary. Everyone is familiar with the tradition to throw away hats costing upward of 17 clams after a gap-toothed grinning ice hockey player nets three goals. But remember when Florida Panther fans used to cover the ice in plastic rats following ANY goal at all? Those things cost almost 15 smackeroos!It makes the fans in Montreal and Chicago who used to shower the field with “Oh Henry” bars following a Henry Rodriguez home run look like a bunch of cash-hoarding Ebenezer Scrooges.Tossing candy bars is a good example of how fans often prefer throwing food at their athletes when praising them and not hard objects. Thousands of years ago, folks used to offer up food to the gods or kings in sign of reverence.Not much has changed today, as fans at Penn lob toast onto the field after the third quarter of a football game as a “toast to Penn.” Jumping around just seemed too uncivil, I suppose.In Detroit, fans often try to fling live octopus — a true delicacy — onto the ice as a sign that they are tired of having their team named after a cheap shoe company.At several colleges, including Northwestern, Michigan and Colorado, it has been tradition to throw marshmallows onto the field of play, so that the players won’t have to waste time stopping at the grocery store after the game to have their infamous s’more parties — you’ll remember seeing one such scandalous fiesta of sin midway through the movie “The Sandlot.”However, while some object throwing is celebratory, for the most part it is meant to be derogatory toward a player or team.Take the corks thrown at Sammy Sosa after his corked bat scandal or the syringes launched in the direction of Barry Bonds in recent years, obviously due to his refusal to get the meningitis vaccine.Fans in Philadelphia made it rain batteries like an Energizer Bunny birthday party hosted by Pac Man Jones at a baseball game a few years back.European soccer fans have been known to pepper the bleachers with flares when perturbed with referee calls, apparently trying to shed light on the truth.And who could forget seeing Carl Everett get beaned by a cell phone in the noggin. It was later revealed that the culprit was one of the Geico cavemen, enraged at C-Rex’s comments about prehistoric beings. (“God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve,” Everett said. “The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Someone actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex.”)But no one in NBA history might be more hated than rapper/guard Ron Artest. This is evidenced by the fact that he actually had the most valuable of arena possessions — a cup of beer — peg him in the face in Detroit, thus igniting the “Malice at the Palace.”The biggest problem with fans slinging objects, however, is that they have not yet unleashed a storm of flying thunder sticks onto the field or even just into the garbage.Not surprisingly, the marvel of fans throwing objects has made its way to the playing field and now even the athletes themselves are getting in on the action.Whether it is Roger Clemens pelting opponents with fastballs and broken bats, Bobby Knight tossing chairs, Lou Pinella lobbing bases or Randall Simon pegging a racing sausage with his Louisville Slugger, the epidemic has obviously spread.Consider this author the most recently infected, as at Friday’s annual Badger Herald vs. Daily Cardinal softball game, you can be sure to find me throwing everything from toast to toilet seats to obscenities in the direction of the competition as if they were Jurassic Carl and I a Neanderthal (which many might say I am), whenever I’m on the sidelines.I’ll likely toss a slice of pizza, too, and in doing so continue the proud, long-lived practice of throwing foreign, unique and most of all humorous objects while at the ball game.Dave McGrath is a senior majoring in English and journalism. He is planning to bean any Daily Cardinal player who dares crowd the plate against him on Friday. If you have any beanball requests (and you know you do), address them to dmcgrath@badgerherald.com.last_img read more