Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Philadelphia Story

By Tony Mangia


Watching a Phillies game these days is nothing less than electrifying and I'm not just talking about a Roy Halladay strikeout, a Chase Utley double play turn or a Ryan Howard blast. I'm talking about zero-tolerance Philadelphia's newest fan favorite--tasing. It's the newest security conundrum from the city that first brought you stadium municipal courts with holding pens and famously booed Santa Claus at an Eagles game. Now, a hilarious video of a towel-waving nineteen-year-old kid getting tased, in the outfield by a Philly cop, is a YouTube sensation.

Philadelphia, a city that banned hoagies (maybe if they were called HEROS) from entering stadiums after 9/11 for security concerns---that mozzarella could be a plastic explosive---is now at at the center of controversy, again, because of its police department's use of excessive force. They even banned cheesesteaks for god's sake! Oh come on. Philly is the home of the late-70's Flyers 'Broad Street Bullies' whose smack down style of play caused the NHL to revise its rule book and add about fifty pages of new disciplinary regulations. I can't believe the outcry. I love the support.

At the center of the controversy is the Penn State student who ran onto the field waving a white towel. He was chased by three lead-footed security personnel and a real cop. This is AFTER the teenager called his father to ask his permission to disrupt the ballgame. After a "I don't think its a good idea" reply from his dad, the jerky kid responded like any other teen would do after getting advice from his pop--he did exactly the opposite! While running around like a scared matador waving a white cape for about sixty seconds, the cop brought the stray doggie down with a direct hit to the rib cage. A stunt that would have only been seen by those fans in attendance, and been forgotten by the next pitch, would now would be seen by millions. The stunned jackass went down like a well...a stunned jackass. Now the public and police want to review the officer's use of a taser and his lack of restraint in taking down the lawbreaker. Police review the officer? Penn State should review the student's application at its university and his father should be slapped around for siring the goofball. What kind of kid calls his father for his blessing to break the law? Maybe that Chicago father and son team who jumped Kansas City first base coach, Tom Gamboa, in Comiskey Park a few years ago? The same lunkheads who dropped a knife at the foul line.

Citizens Bank Park erupted in cheers as the shocked teen went down. He could've been felled by a 9mm for all they knew and, as the convulsing kid laid on his stomach waving his his white terry like a surrendering Frenchman, the roar got louder as the crew corralled the spastic colt. Philly fans have a long record of stadium disobedience and intolerance. Go back a few years to when some Duracells were thrown at J.D. Drew's head up until last month when some freak purposely puked on a police captain's daughter to understand why jails were first installed in the bowels of the Vet. Many other stadiums have followed suit and now have their own mini-Alcatrazs alongside the player's locker rooms. The Oakland Raiders have a whole section for such culprits. They call it loge seating.


I say, to hell with the usual seventh inning stretches. No more sing-alongs like "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" inside Wrigley Field or "God Bless America" at Yankee Stadium. Milwaukee almost gets it right with the sausage races and it was close to perfect when that opposing player took a bat to the sweet Italian one. Just pump up the Metallica and set some lanky teenager free in the outfield during the stretch and sic three or four really fat and out-of-shape security guards on the speedster. The wranglers could be armed with tasers and stun guns under their yellow 'SECURITY' wind breakers. See if that wiry little punk could evade his chubby hunters while AC/DC blasts through the loudspeakers. The crowd goes wild when a guard clutches his chest. The fun ensues as the teen races around the bases and his predators huff and stumble around the infield. MMA and the X-Games combined. Royals and Pirates fans might actually show up for the seventh inning alone. Bill Veeck would have loved it.

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