‘Fan’ who tossed bottle at Ryan Howard is an idiot; Let’s not be idiots too

“Why would someone throw a bottle at a baseball player?”

“Because people are idiots.”

That was part of an actual conversation at the Monday morning breakfast table. With a six-year old.

Some idiot thought he had the right to throw a bottle at Ryan Howard on Saturday night. On Sunday, Howard told reporters, “I’ve done too much in this town to have that kind of stuff. If you want to yell out ‘You suck,’ that’s whatever. But when you start throwing stuff, that’s when stuff gets personal…

“To me, that’s crossing the line. It becomes a security issue. It’s not necessary. That stuff infuriates me.”

It goes without saying that Howard is right, both about how he deserves better treatment after all he’s done, and that an incident like this is a huge issue with security. (Why they even allow bottles, plastic or otherwise, in the stadium is between MLB and its high-paying beer sponsors.)

This isn’t a conversation we should be having in 2016. If you throw anything onto the field at a player — especially a projectile like a bottle — you should be ejected, arrested and banned from the stadium for life.

Paying for a ticket does not give anyone the right to enter the field, or throw anything onto the field. No. Matter. What. A six year old could tell you that. And yet, because this is Philadelphia, the conversation seems to always get muddled.

Our “thought leaders,” as they often do, wouldn’t have it any other way.

Angelo Cataldi, longtime morning host on Sports Radio WIP, certainly didn’t keep his hot-button opinions to the radio waves Monday morning. In an effort to drive more people to his show—and catch the ire of those who (often) disagree with him—Cataldi threw out the suggestion that the bottle-throwing incident is the team’s fault for not having already cut Ryan Howard.

This is mind-numbingly ridiculous. Now, to be fair, this is a comment from a man who spent part of his show on Friday complaining about Phillies GM Matt Klentak—who was hired in late October and has quickly turned a moribund team into one playing competitive baseball despite having not yet presided over even one draft—is a bad GM because he hasn’t done anything yet. And because he doesn’t talk to the media enough.

Cataldi either has an axe to grind against the Phillies or sees the tenor of the city turning in favor of the baseball team, and thinks the best way to get attention for his radio program is to bash them for whatever he can.

It’s a useful trope in this industry: create an argument where there isn’t one. Frankly, isn’t that part of where the idea for releasing Ryan Howard came from?

How can we stand out in voicing our displeasure with Howard’s performance when everyone is frustrated? I know! Let’s say the team should cut him, then get everyone so riled up about it that some idiot goes and throws a bottle at him! Then let’s blame the team for the whole incident!

Is it fair to connect those dots? To blame a shock radio host because someone threw a bottle at Howard? Probably not. That said, it seems more fair than blaming the damn team.

The seeds of fan sentiment in this city are planted and cultivated during morning drive talk radio — vocal minority they sometimes may be  — and part of the reason sports fans in this city are seen as this brooding, bombastic, battery-hurling bunch is because of those anything-to-grab-another-listener gimmicky topics we hear on the way to work… and then angrily regurgitate throughout the day.

And it’s not just WIP. The Fanatic was created to be the counterpuncher to WIP’s muscle. Yet over the years, it has become impossible to distinguish one from the other.

So if the subject of a projectile was a perennially bad player, the bottle throwing would be justified? But since Howard has been good in his career, he deserves better?

Is that what that’s suggesting? A “real” fan would know Howard doesn’t deserve a bottle thrown at him?

Nobody deserves to have a bottle thrown at him. The worst player on the team, the best player on the other team, the usher who asked that you sit down because you’re blocking others from watching the game or a fan decked out in opposing team’s gear — none of them deserve to have a bottle thrown at them.

The mere suggestion that Howard doesn’t deserve it for what he’s done absolves those morons who think it would be okay to, let’s say, throw batteries at players we have reason to actually dislike.

Oh, yeah. That.

Read that tweet, then stop for a second and Google the term “who threw batteries at JD Drew.” You know what, I did it for you.

Nowhere on the first page do you see who actually threw the batteries at J.D. Drew. What you do see is an apology from the Philadelphia Inquirer writer who made a joke about prodding fans to throw batteries at Drew back in 2011. We, as media, never learn.

The ’99 battery incident put Philly fandom on a new level, one that — added to the lore of horrible Philly sports fan alongside throwing snowballs at a reportedly drunk fill-in Santa and cheering when Michael Irvin’s career was cut short because of injury — gives us this inglorious reputation. This one bottle thrown at Howard that he didn’t even see may not approach that level, but to suggest the idiot who threw the bottle will receive “more than enough punishment” when his identity is revealed forgets how short the internet’s attention span is.

Do you remember the name Johnny Macchione?

No? The guy in 2009 who dumped a beer on Shane Victorino, then let another fan get hauled away by the cops before turning himself in to police several days later?

That guy was pilloried all over the news for days. Even the mayor of Chicago called him out over what he did. You’d think the guy’s life would be destroyed in a Bartman-esque manner in Chicago. Right?

“A lot of times my friends will bring it up,” says Macchione. “[They ask] ‘Hey, do you know who this guy is?’ As soon as you tell [other people] they’re like, ‘Oh. Yeah, yeah. I totally know him.’ But that’s about it.”

“My buddies still talk about it,” says Johnny’s younger brother. “I thought it was pretty funny, honestly. There was really no other way I could take it.”

That was from a 2011 interview with the guy. He did say at the time it was “kind of scary” how many people were talking about him around the country. “I was worse than Bartman, they were saying.”

That lasted about a week. Two years later there was a “remember this guy” story, like the taser kid or whoever else does something stupid at a ballpark. Then, this past February, the story came up again after Victorino signed with the Cubs. That’s it. We don’t remember. The guy who threw the bottle at Howard was probably getting high fives from his buddies after the game. The notoriety and, potentially a night in jail, will give him a story he can share for the rest of his life while we won’t even remember his name.

Thankfully, of course, nobody got hurt this time. Nobody even got doused with beer either, but the blame shouldn’t go to the team. The offense shouldn’t come with the caveat that Howard didn’t deserve it because of what he’s done in the past.

This is an easy one. A six year old can figure it out. Why would someone throw a bottle at a baseball player? Because people are idiots.

Let’s maybe not all be idiots too.

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