fan rips ball out of hands

The guy who stole that home run ball in Boston being called “The Angel of Fenway”

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The guy who grabbed a home run ball out of a woman’s hand to throw it out onto the field, and who is reported to have called a black fan nearby “Trayvon” and “Prince Fielder’s crackhead brother” has a fan club! It’s the mouth-breathers over at Barstool Sports Boston, who have dubbed this fine gentleman “The Angel of Fenway” and are quite upset that anyone thinks differently of the guy.

Upset at me in particular, as they quoted my post about it at length under an old picture of me and accused me of overreacting. It’s not racist to tell a black guy to “go back to the ghetto,” the Barstool guy says. Really!

They took specific issue with me when when I implied that the guy taking the baseball from the woman could be construed as assault and battery. But hey, don’t take the lawyer’s word for it. Here’s some legal discourse that absolves the guy in their view:

Has there ever been a bigger overreaction to anything in the history of earth than this guy’s take on the “Angel of Fenway” throwing that ball back last night? Trying to insinuate that it was the same thing as stealing her cell phone? That it was assault and battery. Umm no it’s not.  This wasn’t preplanned. This guy wasn’t taking it for himself.   It was pure instinct.  He did what he thought was right in the heat of the moment.  He was making a point. At worst it was a dickhead move. At best he won the game.

I think it says everything about the impotent wannabes at sites like Barstool that they think this guy could have “won the game.” They’re the sort of fans who believe they are far more important than the really are. Who believe that their ridiculously over-the-top passion actually has impact beyond allowing them to enjoy the game and making themselves feel better.  But hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these guys, and not David Ortiz won it! Don’t doubt Boston pride! You wouldn’t understand!

In other news, I would suggest they take their own advice and see what it does for them. Go out and commit some actual crimes sometime, dudes, and tell the police that it’s OK because you didn’t preplan it and it was all in the heat of the moment. I’m pretty sure that’s a total defense to everything ever. One more:

But to start comparing it to a real crime is so far off the reservation crazy that it’s mind boggling.

Yeah, no one would ever think that taking a ball out of another fan’s hand by force is a crime. Well, except for police:

A teenager was assaulted and robbed of the home run ball he claims he retrieved Wednesday during the Giants’ loss to the Boston Red Sox at AT&T Park, police said. The 16-year-old was in the standing-only section above Levi’s Landing in right field when he scrambled to fetch the seventh-inning home run hit by the Red Sox’s Stephen Drew, Officer Albie Esparza said Thursday … Right after the victim took possession of the baseball, the suspect allegedly tackled him from behind, twisted his wrist, then pried the ball away and fled, Esparza said.

There was some he-said, he-said about it all but the fact of the matter is that police considered the matter a potential criminal act.

Oh, and the fan in that incident? The one who had the ball allegedly taken from him? Red Sox fan. How much you wanna bet that the Barstool guys are far more critical of the ball-snatcher there?

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.