Monday, December 28, 2009

Look, Mom, it's Tommy! He's running onto the field at the Yankees game!

One of the great things about YouTube is that it offers a glimpse at a world unknown to regular television viewers. For years now, stations instantly cut away from the on-field action if some attention-seeking idiot sprints onto the field and runs around in circles until security finally tackles him. They do this because showing it would apparently encourage others to do the same thing and they don't want to give attention to someone for committing a crime. Fortunately, the majority of these people are harmless. The only damage they do is to their family's sense of pride.

As security drags the drunken man or woman off in cuffs, the announcers will either ignore it completely, aside from a somber announcement that "security is escorting a gentleman off the field," or they'll ridicule the person, explaining, "Some moron has decided to show off for his friends and will now spend the night in jail. Good."

I have no problem with TV refusing to show these people. Attention-starved people with below-average intelligence already litter our televisions on reality shows; we don't need them polluting sporting events.

Still, there's something exhilarating about watching a fool run onto a baseball field or football field in an attempt to...what? Impress a girlfriend? Win a dare he made with his frat buddies? Prove his parents wrong when they told him he'd never amount to anything in his life? For a few seconds, these people must feel like Barry Sanders breaking free into the open field. They now know what it feels like to be cheered by 30,000 people. Sometimes they'll dodge overweight security guards, who must get some secret thrill out of the chase as well. Most of the time those workers simply watch the stands for drunken brawls.

Here's a chance to beat up a real-life hippie!

Baseball attracts most of these people. Rarely does it happen in basketball, despite the fact it'd seem to be an easier accomplishment. Perhaps baseball fans - who these days sit through games that last anywhere from three and a half hours to six hours - simply have a longer time frame in which to get drunk. I'd like to see a study that analyzes when people run onto a field. My guess is it'd be in the later innings of a game, or in the second half of a football game.

What's the thought process? Does the idea first spark in the fifth inning? Does the guy think about doing it, but fears telling his friend? Then, sometime in the bottom of the seventh, as he's chugged his seventh beer, he finally broaches the subject:

"Hey, wouldn't it be cool if I ran onto the field?"
"No, it would be. You remember, I was a pretty good running back in high school. Ran for 875 yards senior year. Made all-conference."
"That was 11 years ago. And 85 pounds ago."
"Dude, I'm just saying. I could do it and probably last a minute out there before they'd catch me. Look at those security guys."

The guy's friend forgets the conversation. He passes it off as one of those ideas drunk guys always come up with; it's the same thing he does when his friend openly dreams about opening a bar, a real "kick-ass joint, we can even have live music."

Then, in the bottom of the eighth, it happens. The guy jumps over the short wall down the right field line. As his friend breaks out the camera phone so he can document the carnage for the buddies back home, the guy's off to the races.

You know the drunk guy you hate sitting next to at a professional sporting event? The one who doesn't shut up or sit down and screams at every player? That's the type of guy who runs onto the field. The only good thing is he's no longer bothering you.

Here, then, are some of the finest examples of just how stupid humans can be.

Dodger Stadium. Who says LA fans don't get excited? Here, the crowd acts like Kirk Gibson just took Dennis Eckersley deep again, as they wildly cheer a man getting hammered on the field by security staff, presumably after he got hammered in his seat. Boy, do fans love when someone runs onto the field. It wakes them from their slumber. "Look, dad, someone's zig-zagging across the outfield while four people in jackets chase him! Who-whooooo!" It's the same type of reaction that happens when a beach ball gets tossed into a crowd. Inexplicably, it becomes the highlight of the game for many people as they bounce it to and fro. On the beach, the sight of a beach ball would elicit yawns. But in the stands at Camden Yards? Chaos! Excitement!

And would anyone blame the security staff or police officers if they took a few extra shots at these cretins? Especially when five or six of them gather around the sprinter. It'd be easy to toss in a few jabs to the ribs. Guy's drunk, he's not going to remember anything.

Wrigley Field. This one is labeled Drunk Cubs Fan Gets Tackled on Mother's Day. Again, pure joy from the crowd. Are they cheering the man or the security people who took him down? And would they be anymore excited if the Cubs finally made the World Series? I say no.

Here's one of New York's finest citizens, running around the old Yankee Stadium. The same grass Mickey Mantle used to patrol! The highlight is toward the end, when one of the fans can be heard saying, "He gets to go into the dugout too!" as if police are taking him there so he can give Joe Girardi some advice about whether to bring Rivera in during the 8th inning or save him for the 9th.

Here's the same guy...from a different angle. One known photo exists of Abraham Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address, and it came seconds after he completed the speech. Yet, at least two videos exist of this guy shedding his shirt and tacklers as he makes his way around the basepaths at baseball's most hallowed cathedral.

The one below is an old-school version. From 1989, at a Steelers game. Shirtless, pantsless, shoeless. Thankfully, the guy's wearing boxers, not briefs. He falls on the old, tough artificial turf at Three Rivers Stadium, the type of turf that's all but disappeared today because it was so brutal on players, and, most likely, fans.

Speaking of the Steelers, here's Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison taking justice into his own hands with a fool from Cleveland. This might also be why more people run onto the field at baseball games. Who's more likely to take out a runaway fan? A right-fielder, or a middle linebacker?

It's not like this is just a problem on the coasts. Not even Minnesota - with its presumably nice security guards and nice fans - is immune. In this one a pair of fans, egged on by their testosterone and low IQs, venture out together. One even makes it to home plate - he's safe - before a Red Sox bat boy flattens him, finally ending the fiasco.

Every year Sports Illustrated publishes a Where are They Now issue. It's always one of the more fascinating issues, as the magazine tracks down athletes and coaches from the past who have fallen off the radar. For the next issue, I hope they track down some of these people, or their brethren. Did any of them go on to become a CEO? Did any of them get promoted to head of sales? Did their hometowns throw them a parade, or present a key to the city? Most importantly, did any of them father any children? And if so, are their children as dumb as their parents?


Anonymous said...

There is a classic NFL one where Mike Curtis clotheslines a fan who tried to take the ball. That should be the cautionary tale to any moron who wants to run on the field or court in any sport. But all too often alcohol makes way of one's better judagement...

Shawn Fury said...

I tried finding the Mike Curtis one and didn't see it anywhere. The guy he drilled was definitely drunk because he was still laughing, even while flying through the air. On the old NFL Films clip, it talked about how his teammates were mad at him for doing that and he told them the guy was violating a city ordinance or something, so he enforced the law.

Dad said...

Boy the Twins security looked really bad, the guy could have run around for 5 minutes if he hadn't slide at home which wasn't too bad. I have seen drunk softball players look much worse!!

Shawn Fury said...

Well, it was a Twins game, so the guy running on the field was doing all the little things right, just like Nick Punto. He was faster on the turf; at the new ballpark with natural grass, he'd lose that advantage and security would grab him in the outfield.

Lisa said...

what about the streaker who used to run through the Janesville football games? Clad only in his underwear and a red cape!!

Shawn Fury said...

I don't remember that. Or I blocked it out. Who was it, or at least their initials and I'll narrow it down to the three possible people it could be.

Lisa said...

I think his first name was Trent Schnepf. He was older than me. I was probably in 7th grade when he did it so you probably wouldn't remember. None of them were too bright.

Anonymous said...

Yes it was Trent Schnepf he was known as Captain Chaos.

Anonymous said...

So this is the only thing you remember ? He never harmed anything or anyone . Just good clean fun Get over it !