Take me out from the ballgame

Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham

“What’s the matter? You need to change your diaper, Mr. Crybaby?”

No, I wasn’t hanging out with the heckler at a nursery-school recital – but thanks for asking.

Would you believe that I was at a Valley League baseball game in Waynesboro – with the most boorish group of fans that I’ve ever encountered?

“Maybe he needs his bottle and binky,” one of three particularly loud yahoos sitting in my section said as the Waynesboro manager pleaded his case with the home-plate umpire at a game last week.

“Yeah … his bottle and binky! That’s great!” one of his fellow Staunton-fan friends weighed in.

This went on for nine innings – nine innings of a 12-8 game, mind you.

“Haw haw! We’re going to shut you up tonight, Waynesboro,” it started not long after the national anthem, which itself didn’t escape criticism from our intrepid commentators – for whom there was, unfortunately, no off button.

“She kind of missed that high note, didn’t she?” the third of the doofuses opined after the song was over.

The aforementioned ump was the subject of much of the ridicule.

“What did they do – pay you off before you got here?” was a favorite comment whenever a call didn’t go the way of their beloved Staunton team, which if you’re familiar with baseball was often, given that every single pitch had to be called a ball or a strike, for starters.

Mind you, we were sitting, oh, right at a 180-degree line from home plate – meaning we had about a good a view of the strike zone as the man in the moon.

“Come on, Ump! Where was that pitch?” was another popular refrain – ironic, I thought, given that it was used to relay a question about the decision, though it could have easily been interpreted more literally.

The highlight for me came in the ninth inning – when a Waynesboro player went down with what looked to be a serious ankle injury after turning awkwardly while fielding a ground ball.

The stands were silent, except for our friends.

“Get the rescue squad out there and let’s play ball! This is ridiculous!” the ringleader said above conversation level – which given the circumstances was practically yelling at the top of his lungs.

As bad as the loudmouths were, though, the sizable number of Staunton fans sitting with them were really no better – alternatively laughing and high-fiving and even egging on the stream of inane chatter.

I still have a good mental picture, for instance, of the older gentleman who made the comment to one of the members of the trio about how he hoped my “flea-bitten dog” – along with me for the game because most Valley League games are family-friendly atmospheres that just scream for you to have the kids and the pooch in on the fun – would bite me and give me “rabies.”

This because I dared to wear a Waynesboro hat to the game.

I know this sounds silly – but I left the field that night with a lot less respect for Staunton, as in the city of Staunton.

I gather that these were the village idiots – but doesn’t something have to be wrong with a city that has that many village idiots?

Yeah, yeah, I know – I need to change my diaper.

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