“When In Doubt, Let It Be”

(head tilt  Corky Gaines)

You hear the crack off the bat and instantly see the ball in the air as it spins and orbits towards you. Everything else suddenly fades away as you are stuck mesmerized watching that white sphere as it heads straight to you. It is almost like you are transpose into another surreal realm where it is just you and that little white orb doing it’s little dance as it nears your hands/glove. You go into an astute form of concentration where any surrounding noise vacates your mind, even the screams and pleas of fans around you can not beckon you back to reality in time.

 Just as you are about to reap the rewards and bring that sphere into your grasp you are suddenly snapped back into the present possibly by the deafening sound of footsteps as one of the field players also yearns for your prize. You think you are in the right, but without regret you reach for the ball and it slips through both your grasps, falling to the ground, skipping away from you as you look into the player’s eyes and instantly regret and shame come crashing down upon you even before the showers of boos and catcalls.

 You have interfered with a ball near the field of play effectively knocking it from his projected path and bringing the total focus of the action towards you as you realize the error of your ways. You instantly become entangled and bewildered by the loud chorus of boos making your actions even more deplorable as the seconds tick away. Even the act of trying to apologize, rationalize the previous moments falls on deaf ears around you, for you have committed a baseball mortal sin. You have interfered with a ball in the air that could of produced an out for your home team.

 It is one of the horrific things that can happen as you sit in those expensive seats between the dugouts and the Bullpen seating areas. You see the ball in the air as it rambles towards your seat, think for a moment you have a right to it then pounce, but instead you take a clears chance at ending an inning early with your actions. More and more we are seeing fan interference at Tampa Bay Rays games. It is human nature to want to catch a foul ball, thrust it into the air like a Roman Gladiator the hand it like a treasured jewel to your child. Instead you become an instant scapegoat, a pariah for wanting that white sphere for your own.

I would like to think some of most of this flashed through the mind of ex-NBA player and true Rays fan Matt Geiger as he came down the steps towards his seats on Sunday watching the ball spin towards his seating area with all intentions of being out of the reach of anyone, even Rays First Baseman Carlos Pena.  But Geiger forgot the cardinal rule at that moment like so many of us would of if the situation were reversed. 

And it is true, you do kind of get lost in the rotation of the ball, possibly forgetting that Rays First Baseman Carlos Pena also see the same prize within his grasp and wants it as much as you. We all know how the story ended, with Geiger putting his hands to his face is disbelief not for missing the ball, but for becoming the latest fan scapegoat within Tropicana Field.

 I know Tampa Bay Talk Radio trashed this incident involving Geiger to death on Monday, but I refrained from getting into the shark frenzy. Unlike two of the Home Run controversies during the Rays and New York Yankee series, Geiger did not reach over and pluck the ball out of the air or in front of that mysterious painted yellow line to rob the Rays of potential runs. Geiger did cost the Rays a clear out, but it came with minimal damage, and a few extra pitches.

 Geiger got caught up in the moment, of wanting a actual game used ball for his young son but instead got the wrath and attention for doing something really uncharacteristic for him. He projected himself into the game. The ridicule and harsh comments bellowed towards him as he was escorted from his expensive seat as Geiger’s interaction within the game was being reviewed and it was concluded he did not reach into the field of play, his big mitts just were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 This just goes to show you, anyone can get caught up in the moment, even someone as experienced as Geiger. This incident just goes to show you the consequences of your actions when you sit down close, next to the rail or lean over for a ball can dictate and turn the momentum of a game, plus you might get an early exit from the ballpark.

I guess it is best to go by this simple rule: If you are sitting in a region that a ball can be deemed interfered with, when in doubt, let it be. Simple words until you hear the crack of the bat and see that spinning white sphere coming towards you.


Cap tilt to Rays Index/Corky Gaines for the fine in-game freeze frame images.


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