Posted by AsssyrianVoice4Peace from 63-93-68-220.lsan.dial.netzero.com (126.96.36.199) on Tuesday, October 15, 2002 at 7:51PM :
Make My Day
THREE RAZZES FOR THE FAN FROM HELL
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Fans of certain sports teams have well-deserved reputations of being obnoxious and outlandish because of their antics in the stands.
In the National Football League, the Cleveland Browns have the loud and obnoxious Dawg Pound, the Green Bay Packers have the loud and obnoxious Cheeseheads, and the Buffalo Bills have the highest ratio of men with disgustingly huge "man boobs" going shirtless at winter home games.
English soccer hooligans are now banned from traveling out of the country because they regularly incite violence at international soccer matches.
But when it comes to baseball, fans are pretty much a quiet and respectful group, usually because they've fallen asleep from boredom after the third inning.
Unless you sit near Anthony Ercolano, a high-decibel fan of the Seattle Mariners.
Ercolano has a well-earned reputation as both the loudest and most annoying fan to sit in the bleachers, since he spends every home game shouting at the opposing players.
According to recent articles in the Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Ercolano will yell at short batters to stand up. He asks young-looking players who they're taking to the prom. He makes crybaby sounds when a player argues with the umpire. And - predictably - he even questions whether the ump has eyes.
Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. But the 44-year-old ex-Microsoft employee spent $32,000 on two Diamond Club season tickets - fifth row seats directly behind home plate - just so he can shower everyone with abuse during every Mariners home game.
Of course, one has to wonder how Ercolano became an ex-Microsoft employee in the first place.
Bill Gates: I'd like to welcome everyone to our monthly company-wide employees' meeting.
Ercolano: Hey, Gates, your glasses look dorky! G-a-a-a-a-a-tes, G-a-a-a-a-a-tes!
After four years (in which Ercolano only missed 15 games), the Mariners decided they'd had enough, so Executive Vice President Bob Aylward called Ercolano on the phone and asked him to keep it down or lose his season tickets.
So what did Ercolano do? Tone it down a bit? Hold up hand-painted signs instead? Use signal flags and flares to voice his opinion?
Of course not, this is America!
He filed a lawsuit at the end of August, claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated, and his season ticket contract may have been breached.
As a journalist, I am never, ever in favor of violating anyone's First Amendment rights. That's what makes this country so great - being able to voice one's opinion about things, as in "People who constantly shout at baseball games are loud-mouthed jerks and should be flogged."
However, while the Constitution guarantees Ercolano a right to free speech, it doesn't require everyone else to listen. So it's not a matter of whether he can do this at all (he can), it's more a question of "does he have to do this all the time at every freakin' game?!"
"Really, what he wants is to be free of harassment, and he'd like an apology from the Mariners," Paul Meiklejohn, Ercolano's attorney, told the Seattle Times. "He feels that he spent a lot of money for these tickets ... and he didn't expect to be belittled."
Whether Ercolano feels it or not, he did spend a lot of money - $16,000 per ticket - the same as everyone else in the Diamond Club. Those fans also have a right to be free of harassment and Ercolano's unimaginative, sophomoric banter ringing in their ears, don't they?
And if you want to be nitpicky, he wasn't really belittled, since Aylward's request was made privately over the phone. The only thing that happened, according to Ercolano himself, is that he was asked to keep it down.
If the Mariners' scoreboard had displayed messages that said Ercolano behaves like a spoiled brat to overcompensate for his small male anatomy and that he still wets the bed, that would have been belittling. Instead, Aylward only asked him to shut up and let others enjoy the game.
Ercolano's lawsuit asks that the Mariners be prevented from removing him from any games or revoking his 2003 season tickets. And of course, he is seeking "unspecified monetary damages."
But Ercolano's lawsuit did not ask other Diamond Club fans to refrain from pummeling him mercilessly, so there may be new developments to this story next season.
Meiklejohn also told the Times that Ercolano's enjoyment " ... is in the baseball game and cheering and teaching his girls about the game."
Just what exactly is he teaching them about baseball by being this obnoxious?
Ercolano: Okay, honey, when this guy comes up to bat, yell "I've seen rusty gates swing better," just like daddy taught you.
At least Ercolano has some standards. He says he follows three rules when yelling at the opposing team. He never uses foul language, never comments on a player's low batting average, and he never insults a player's family.
But commenting on their height or physical appearance is fair game? Why is the guy who feels belittled fighting for his right to belittle others? It sounds like Ercolano can dish it out, but can't take it, and doesn't think he should have to.
So how would he feel if someone like Yankee slugger Jason Giambi shouted comments back at him before cracking a couple foul tips his way? Angry? Vindicated? Or like he needs to have a baseball removed from his teeth?
What's really sad is that Ercolano's heckling is so juvenile and inane that it's like the cracks we made in middle school: stupid, pointless, and painfully immature. We actually quit making "stand up" jokes to short people by the time we were 12 because it got old after the twentieth time. Is it even possible for a grown man to make crybaby sounds at other grown men without sounding like a complete moron?
What's worse is that Ercolano has filed a lawsuit which could completely change the standards of free speech in this country, just so he can make comments that have all the creativity and maturity of "What did you eat under there?"
Instead he should stick with the classics, like "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!"
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