In the past, I was an uptight, miserable human at ballgames. Like any teenager in a record store, I was judgmental of everyone around me, and like a crazy person, I refused to get up, even when the sum of hot dogs, pretzels and beer were impacting my bowels, for fear that my scorecard would get messed up. But I've mellowed, I'm more accepting. I now use the Phil Rizzuto method of marking 'WW' for Wasn't Watching anytime I want to get something to eat, run to the bathroom, or stare longingly at the stirrup socks of the fourth outfielder.
I've also relaxed my regulations about what it means to be a fan at a ballgame–it's perfectly fine to show up and know nothing about the game. Do you like drinking beer in the sun? Come to a game! Do you want to get your kids out of the house for a few hours? As long as they don't bother me and you don't ask me to look after them "just until halftime," sure, come out to the yard. Baseball is not the SERIOUS ACTIVITY with LIFE OR DEATH consequences that my younger self thought it was. Instead it's a diversion that can provide hours of enjoyment for both baseball junkies who study the minor shifts of the infielders in between pitches and the people who just like to shout WHOO! every 3-5 minutes.
Still, even with all of this peace, love, and understanding in my heart, I think it's time that we came up with some very easy to abide by ground rules. For the betterment of all peoples.
We get it. Games on weeknights are hard to get to, what with work and picking your kid up from detention for inappropriate Facebook status updates. Any arrival before the 3rd inning on a weeknight is entirely excusable, especially if you run in with a briefcase and say, to no one in particular, "Boy, the boss sure was a hard ass today, huh?"
However, on the weekend, there is no excuse for showing up an hour into the game. Even in the mostly empty Marlins stadium, tens of thousands of people are coming to this one event, so traffic will always be bad. It will take time to park. To walk into the stadium. These are not surprises, but things to be prepared for. So, please, try to be at your seats by the first pitch. No one likes standing up so you can squeeze your fat tush through ten minutes into the action.
In the event that you ARE late or returning to your seats, you shall wait until the at-bat is over before squeezing your way by.
Conversely, when getting up to get food, beverage, or just want to talk on your cell phone, you will wait until the end of the half-inning. You can do it, I have faith in you.
Photographs of you and your friends/loved ones can either be done at your seat in between innings or, if you want to make a whole goddamn production of it, like you're the touring cast of Oklahoma, do it either before the start, or after the completion, of the ballgame.
If you are seated in the aisle, feel free to get up and walk around the concourse as much as you'd like. However, if you are in the middle seats, you have three (3) trips to the bathroom or concessions per game. Barring medical issues.
However, you can 'purchase' more trips by buying a round of beers or burgers for whomever you are inconveniencing.
You will still have to wait for the end of the half-inning, though.
Starting up conversations with those around you is great. However, please look out for visual cues that they are done talking with you and would like to return their attention to the field. Some of these cues are, and are not limited to:
– Nodding of the head quickly, but making no eye contact.
– Finishing sentences with drawn out "so…" and looking away
– Subtly shifting their body
– Making fake phone calls.
– Pretending to have a heart attack and dying.
However, because people like to argue, chances are you'll find something to fight about. At these times, simply pretend that you're talking to your slightly racist grandmother and, when presented with an opportunity for boisterous conversation, simply nod your head and say, "Well, that's interesting, but I'm not sure it's how the real world operates."
If you get drunk, shutup and don't fight anyone. There are no exceptions.
Farting will only be allowed during loud instructed-clapping situations. We'll all pretend that nothing happened.
No Waves. No exceptions.
Tipping will be done in accordance with the Tipping Purity Law of 1817:
1) Tips from bartenders will remain at the standard dollar-a-drink.
2) Tips to the people serving you hot dogs, pretzels, and/or beer, is optional. Even if they pour you a beer. I've never understood how they differ from a bartender, but it's just how it is.
3) Vendors, whether it's peanuts, cotton candy, or a hot dog out of those mobile warming things that actually make the hot dog taste better, will be tipped with the difference of a whole dollar.
4) You can go beyond these tipping standards, but never complain or mention how much you've tipped.
Do not bring a beach ball with you. This is baseball, not a rock concert.
During late innings of a blowout, paper airplanes from the top deck are not only acceptable, they are encouraged.
Have fun. Or something. What do I look like, your Dad?
I will now submit these to your local SABR chapter for ratification. Thank you for your time.