C.J. Nitkowski doesn’t like fans who use cell phones at games

Tom Pigeon/Allsport

Former major leaguer C.J. Nitkowski, presently of various media venues including MLB Network Radio, posted an image on Twitter on Monday night where he highlighted an ostensibly female fan looking down at her cell phone while White Sox shortstop Jimmy Rollins hits a double. Nitkowski commented, “Your parents paid a lot of money for that seat…”

Unsurprisingly, Nitkowski got a lot of heat for the comment, including from ESPN’s Keith Law, who felt the former pitcher’s comment had tinges of sexism. Nitkowski wrote a personal blog responding to Law specifically. I’ll abstain from passing judgment on that specific matter, but Nitkowski does conveniently ignore the man a couple rows back whose face is also buried in a cell phone.

Nitkowski’s criticism of the fan makes a lot of assumptions from a still image — one split-second of a three and a half hour game. It really comes from the recent netting arguments, on which one side argues that fans struck by foul balls should be paying attention, rather than using cell phones and engaging in other distractions.

How is Nitkowski so sure the girl didn’t pay for her own ticket? Why does he default to this assumption?

Why does he assume that looking down at a cell phone means one is, generally, not paying attention? Could she not have been looking up game-related information with the MLB.com app, or looking up scores of other games?

Why is looking down at a cell phone frowned upon, especially with expanded netting now protecting a higher portion of those attending? What if the girl did get those tickets from her parents, and she was texting them to say thank you and explain how great the seats are? What if she got an unexpected but important work-related email? What if she was waiting for an update for a relative who had been admitted to the hospital? What if someone randomly texted her to say hi? Nitkowski doesn’t know why the girl was using her cell phone at all.

Why do we expect that fans should always, 100 percent, be paying attention to the on-field action? Baseball is much slower and has much more down time than other sports. It’s natural for one’s mind to wander aimlessly, or for one’s attention to be directed elsewhere. The teams themselves are guilty of this, as their giant video boards flash brightly, mascots prance around, and fans are regularly prompted to use their cell phone for one reason or another.

I shared Nitkowski’s comment and the surrounding context with my girlfriend, who only watches baseball when she’s with me and knows just the basics about the sport. She said she went to a Phillies game once and read a book through the entire game. Why did she go, then? She wanted to spend time with her father. Not everyone who attends a baseball game actually likes baseball; sometimes, they just like being with friends and family. Her seat was paid for with hard-earned money, so she can read a book, play Candy Crush, or knit a sweater if she wants to, all while ignoring the game. If Nitkowski wants to delegitimize that, he is only alienating fans from a sport that is already having trouble capturing the attention of millennials.

Alvarez’s bases-clearing double sends Astros past White Sox

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

HOUSTON – Yordan Alvarez hit a go-ahead three-run double in the seventh inning, and the Houston Astros rallied past the Chicago White Sox 6-3 on Friday night for their first win of the season.

Kyle Tucker hit a two-run homer in the sixth and made a spectacular catch at the wall in the seventh to rob Andrew Benintendi of extra bases and keep the World Series champion Astros within one run.

Eloy Jimenez hit two RBI doubles for the White Sox, both off Astros starter Cristian Javier.

Jimenez’s first double scored Tim Anderson in the first inning. In the sixth, Javier gave up three straight doubles to Benintendi, Jimenez and Joan Moncada to make it 3-0 and end his night.

White Sox reliever Kendall Graveman (0-1) loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh on two walks and a single. Jake Diekman came on and gave up Alvarez’s double to deep left-center, a drive that just eluded Luis Robert Jr. and bounced off the wall, clearing the bases.

Four Astros relievers each worked one scoreless inning. Seth Martinez (1-0) got the win and Rafael Montero handled the ninth for his first save.

Chicago starter Lance Lynn allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.


White Sox INF Andrew Vaughn, who hit a go-ahead two-run double in Thursday’s season-opening win, did not play. Vaughn experienced lower back issues during spring training. Gavin Sheets started at first base.


Astros outfielder Corey Yulks, a Houston-area native, singled in his first at-bat and finished 1-for-4 in his major league debut.


Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife, Whitney, presented the team and staff with their 2022 World Series rings in a pregame ceremony.


Astros: LHP Blake Taylor, who is on the 15-day injured list with a left elbow strain, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land.


The four-game season-opening series continues Saturday when Houston’s Jose Urquidy faces Chicago’s Lucas Giolito.