The story about the kid who almost got hit in the face with a flying bat the other day has spun off all manner of comment about the fact that he was holding a cell phone in the picture. In subsequent interviews the boy — who is nine-years-old, by the way — said that he was at his first ever professional baseball game and was sending photos to his mom and his sister, but that’s not good enough for some of you.
Many of you have voiced your disapproval of the boy, but it all boils down to some variation of what this commenter said in the last thread on this topic:
If he really was sending pictures to his mom and sister, do it during a break in the action. Every ballpark has signs and announcements telling the fans to be vigilant during the game. This information is shared for a reason . . . Get off your phone and have a real experience for once. A day at the ballpark, even at ST, is not a cheap day. Show you appreciate it instead of screwing around on your phone.
Internet commenter tells person outside in the fresh air on a nice spring day to “have a real experience.” I guess he was commenting while climbing El Capitan or during breaks from writing his War Novel in some cafe in Paris or something. I mean, anyone so adamant that this kid suck the marrow from life can’t be in his rec room or on his cell phone on a city bus or sitting in his office cubicle, I’m certain. A dynamic lot our commenters are, make no mistake. The Finest of Men. But let’s leave that aside.
No one watches every pitch of every game. No fan certainly. I know for a fact no members of the media do unless you count the official scorer and even he has to ask the guy next to him what happened sometimes because he was getting that last bit of his froyo from the cup. There are likely coaches and players who take a pitch or two off I bet. Even some guys in the game are caught doing the grownup version of picking dandelions every once in a while. Or looking at women. Or watching the kiss cam. There are a lot of distractions at a ballpark and they distract everyone from time to time.
This is part of what’s cool about baseball, by the way. That you don’t have to be locked in like a fighter pilot for three hours. That you can let your mind wander a bit and take in one bit of wonderful ballpark sensory perception while letting another go for a second. I like to people-watch at games. I like watching the sun set over the first base stands in Comerica Park and I like watching the lights in the houses in the hills across the Ohio River from Great American Ballpark go on at dusk. I like to see what people are eating and wearing. Sometimes instead of the batter I watch a fielder from before the time the pitch is thrown until after the play is over to see what he does with himself. And I do this whether I’m sitting in the upper deck or in unprotected seats behind the dugout. I shouldn’t, but I do, because I’m a human being. You all do too and if you say otherwise you’re lying.
What I think this is really all about is the increasing amount of righteousness people get from cell phone shaming. While the initial impulse is understandable — people are on their phones a lot and it can be a bit annoying when you’d prefer that they aren’t — that impulse has turned into a quasi-political stance of late. A sentiment in which cell phones are allegedly everything that’s wrong with America. Check out the Facebook page of your parents or grandparents and you’ll see them sharing anti-cell phone memes. Businesses are getting in on this too. Chick-fil-A has started placing “Cell Phone Coops” in their restaurants so families can eat meals together without distraction. I have kids who have cell phones. I eat out with them all the time and it’s not a problem because I tell them to put their phones away and they listen. I don’t need a Coop. The Coop is more about cultural signaling and getting people who just don’t care for cell phones or what they perceive to be Millennial culture to nod and say “THEY understand! Take THAT, misguided youth!”
That impulse now extends to a nine-year-old boy sharing pics with his mom. “How DARE he not pay attention to the game?! He practically DESERVES to be hit in the face with a helicoptering maple bat!” Unspoken but detected in such sentiment is jealousy that the kid had great seats and that he got to go on TV and talk about it. Instead of Freddie Freeman giving him an autographed jersey afterward, some people, I suspect, think Freeman should’ve given him a stern talking-to.
Save it. You spend just as much if not more time looking around and not looking at the field at the ballpark. You’re not better than that kid, you’re older and you’re luckier, but you’re not really any different. Get off your high horses and quit shaming a little boy for doing what we all do all the damn time. As you say, quit fixating on that negative thing and pay attention to what’s really important: literally everything at the ballpark, on the field or otherwise.