Last week the Red Sox made news by issuing a lifetime ban to a fan who used racial slurs at Fenway Park. The most common question I’ve heard about asking about that is how, exactly, does a baseball team enforce a lifetime ban?
Teams don’t check IDs at the gate. There are facial recognition systems and cameras in place at some sporting events around the world, but that technology is (a) in its infancy; and (b) primarily aimed at dealing with criminal and terrorist threats, not individual fan bans over relatively mundane matters like general jackwagonry. In light of that, is a lifetime ban more of a symbolic gesture than anything?
Alex Reimer of WEEI.com spoke to the club about that. There’s a bit more to it than merely hoping someone rats out the guy who got banned if he shows up, but not much more to it. They’ve flagged his credit card so he can’t purchase tickets directly from the Red Sox with that card, but he could use StubHub or have a friend buy him tickets, so it’s not exactly airtight.
Mostly it’s just the honor system and the threat of a trespassing beef if he’s caught in Fenway. The spokesman:
“We know this isn’t a perfect or infallible system. And we recognize that enforcing it will be a difficult thing to do. But if the person is willing to take a risk and come back to the ballpark, there are actions that can be taken if they’re caught.”
Not much else you can do, really. But then again, my view of this is that the idea here isn’t specifically about keeping this one fan out of Fenway Park. It’s about the organization signaling to fans what it considers to be inappropriate behavior at the ballpark and using this guy’s ban as an example. Even if it lacks the sharpest teeth, I suspect people will be a bit more careful about displaying their jackwagonry while taking in a Sox game.
It’s can’t be easy being a Mets fan. Your team plays in the biggest city in America and should, theoretically, have big payrolls and always be in contention. They aren’t, however, partially because of horrendous luck and ill-timed injuries, partially because of poor baseball decisions and partially because the team’s ownership got taken down by a Ponzi scheme that, one would think anyway, sophisticated businessmen would recognize as a Ponzi scheme. We’ll leave that go, though.
What Mets fans are left with are (a) occasional windows of contention, such as we saw in 2014-16; (b) times of frustrating austerity on the part of ownership when, one would hope anyway, some money would be spent; (c) an inordinate focus on tabloidy and scandalous nonsense which just always seems to surround the club; and (c) a lot of disappointment.
You can file this latest bit under any of or many of the above categories, but it is uniquely Mets.
Team president Jeff Wilpon spoke to the press this afternoon about team payroll. In talking about payroll, David Wright‘s salary was included despite the fact that he may never play again and despite the fact that insurance is picking up most of the tab. Wilpon’s comment:
I’m guessing every team has a line item, someplace, about the costs of insurance. They’re businesses after all, and all businesses have to deal with that. They do not talk about it as a barrier to spending more money on players to the press, however, as they likely know that fans want to be told a story of hope and baseball-driven decisions heading into a new season and do not want to hear about all of the reasons the club will not spend any money despite sitting in a huge market.
This doesn’t change a thing about what the Mets were going to do or not do, but it does have the added bonus of making Mets fans roll their eyes and ask themselves what they did to deserve these owners. And that, more than almost anything, is the essence of Mets fandom these days.