I attended my first Toronto Blue Jays game of the season last night. It was a usual Wednesday night at the ballpark, full of cheers, hot dogs, and a pint of beer.
I was enjoying myself immensely until the ninth inning, when Michael Young of the Texas Rangers hit a solo home run off of closer B.J. Ryan to the section next to where I was sitting to tie things up at 7-7.
The young man who caught the ball had been sitting quietly all night long, enjoying the game with his girlfriend in section 141—one of the non-drinking sections at the Rogers Centre.
As is customary when the opposing team hits a home run, I and the other fans around the young man encouraged him to return the unwanted souvenir back to the field of play. Being a true Blue Jays fan, the young man did exactly that.
What occurred next offended me not only as a Blue Jays fan, but as a baseball fan. Rogers Centre security approached the young man and escorted him from the stadium for this act of devotion to his team.
Upon witnessing this, I went to guest services and asked to speak to someone who could perhaps explain why this devoted fan was ejected. Surely, I thought to myself, there must be some other reason for his ejection beyond his display of allegiance.
To my surprise, I was informed by Kim, one of the "friendly" managers of ushers at the Rogers Centre, that the new policy following the debacle on Opening Day, was to eject anyone who throws anything on to the field of play—including an opposing team's home run ball.
For those of you who are unaware of what occurred on Opening Day at the Rogers Centre, Detroit Tigers' manager Jim Leyland pulled his team off the field after some unruly Jays fans began throwing balls and other debris at his outfielders.
The game was postponed for a number of minutes, and fans were warned that if the behavior continued, the Blue Jays would be forced to forfeit the game.
Granted, that sort of unruly behavior is unacceptable and, as I was informed, is the reasoning behind this new policy during Blue Jays games.
Now, I understand the need for such rules to ensure that opposing players are not put in danger at the hands of idiotic, drunken buffoons throwing objects from the stands.
However, this situation was very different. This young man was not being disruptive in any way whatsoever during the entirety of the game. He had not consumed a drop of alcohol the whole time he was there, as he was sitting in a non-alcoholic section of the ballpark.
All he did was what any other true fan would do, he showed his devotion to his team with a symbolic gesture that has been commonplace in baseball since I can remember.
As with any rule, common sense must apply.
To eject someone for disrupting a game or attempting to injure an opposing player is most certainly warranted. To eject a fan for showing their devotion to their team in a customary way most certainly is not, especially after that fan has paid their hard earned dollars for the right to be there.
Only the truest of fans would surrender a souvenir in such a manner.
I am amazed that a franchise who is trying to rebuild it's fan base after 15 years of futility would impose such an asinine policy targeting their most devoted fans.
I for one am disgusted by this policy. I have been a Blue Jays fan since I was a boy.
If this is how the Toronto Blue Jays have decided to show their appreciation for their true fans, then perhaps true Blue Jays fans should show their appreciation for this new policy by not going to anymore Blue Jays games.