Before this story even begins I feel the need to start with this disclaimer. I enjoy some tailgating, the smell of freshly barbecued food, a nice ice-cold beer and the company of fans and friends alike. Nothing starts off an event like some fun games, some music, and yes maybe even getting a little bit tipsy. Hey I’m human, and like most I love a good party. However what has been going on lately before, during and after Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park, is no party!
“You can tell the people who are here strictly for baseball, they usually arrive about a half hour before the game” was a quote used by a female friend of mine who also is a Phillies regular and is a very close follower of the game. The rest I have to say looked as if they are more there for an outdoor circus then to watch a ballgame. The amount of people clearly blinded by alcohol consumption or whatever other activity they partake in is unreal. A guy next to me claimed ” I don’t care all that much about going into the game, let’s face it, it’s all about being out here (in the parking lot)”.
Okay, I’m not a party pooper, I am not trying to bring down the fun or the action. I like to tailgate, take in some sun, and be funny and a little wild. My point in this is know your limits. The actions that have leaked into the stadium and into the local bar have been embarrassing and deadly as well. It is these hooligans, thugs and punks that make the regular fan cringe when pulling up to the parking lot. A lot that is in fact packed by people who arrived some 5 hours before the game just to make it a party, rather than get a good spot and see some sports.
Some cases in point to support the theory follow. these are some sad events that have stemmed out from the ballpark in just about one years time. They are a pathetic disgrace to the city known as “The City of Brotherly Love”.
July, 2009: An altercation that had started at McFaddens bar inside of the stadium over alleged “spilled beer” leads to a brawl between members of a bachelor party and 30 plus people who attended the game via bus trip by a local Fishtown bar. The results, 22 year-old David Sale beaten to death by 3 attackers who were seen repeatedly punching and kicking him in his face. It was said that after the beating, friends and family could not even identify his face.
April, 2010: Police Captain Michael Vangelo and his 2 daughters, ages 16 and 11, were heavily harrassed and then eventually vomited on by unruly and heavily intoxicated fans. Vangelo claimed that “from the second he sat down, it had started. They threw beer, water and food at us. I even saw one man begin to spit at my daughter”. Then it was believed that a fan, Matthew Clemmens of Cherry Hill, New Jersey allegedly stuck his fingers in his throat, forcing himself to vomit on Vangelos daughter. After which he began to become violent and had to be removed by security and charges are being pressed.
May, 2010: During the 8th inning of a Phillies vs. Cardinals game a 17 year old fan hops one of the fences and runs around the field. He leads security on a chase that ends when a police officer uses a Taser gun, and drops him in Center Field. A Taser gun at a ballgame? Is this what it is coming to fans?
These 3 incidents are not the norm. These are not stories that we just chuckle about and pass over. These are malicious acts. In 2 of these 3 acts, alcohol that leads to poor judgment ends in very bad behavior. So, do these fools cause us to lose drinking privileges at the game? Remember Philly, The Eagles were forced to stop selling beer after the 2nd quarter due to the inability of fans to behave. The Phillies have now ruled that tailgating must be stopped 1 hour after the start of the game, to eliminate the possibility of an over-running of drunken fans facing the crowds that leave the stadium.
I have been to hundreds of games, concerts and the likes. I can say I have been tipsy or have had many a drink on said event. Why is it that I am never arrested, or beating people to death or peeing and vomiting all over the place? Can we not practice self-control? Do we need to start screening every person that buys a ticket to a game for fear of our lives? It is bad enough that terrorist are trying to blow up city streets, and tear down our country from the inside, but now we have American on American crimes by thugs with no remorse or respect for others rights. Yell at the opponents, tell them they stink, but that does not give you a right to charge at them. Disagree with another patron of the game, tell him he’s wrong, but please don’t beat a man to death or disgrace him in front of his family. Yes we threw snowballs at Santa Claus, and Jimmy Johnson, and we all had a laugh. However it does not make it legal, ethical or fair.
Philadelphia has always had, and quite certainly always will have a reputation for having the toughest fans in all of sports. By tough folks we mean the ability to make things rough for the opposing team, not the guy sitting next to you with his kid. A ticket now-a-days can cost hundreds of dollars if you want a real good seat, we should not have to be in fear as well. The word tough is not trying to be used as a competition for the biggest beer drinker to become the biggest pain in the ass. It is not an extra ticket purchased to disrupt as many people as possible. All this behavior is leading too is a future of no tailgating, no booze, and no fun at the park. If you like we can all go back to the early 1900’s when men wore three piece suits and dress hats to a ball game and women wore dresses.
There is probably very little the average guy can do to stop the over-the-top behavior, but hopefully some fans can see it within themselves to conduct in better fashion. The beer pong games, and flip cup, washers etc are all fun, but why is it a machoism? Please for the sake of a great team, a beautiful ballpark and an impression of a younger generation, let us all take an extra second to practice a little better behavior, before we have nothing left to party about. The circus does come to town, so we don’t need to force its will on a regular basis. Play Ball!
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