THE STRIKE ZONE
Sometimes Sports, Sometimes Sportsmanship
Comedian Josh Sneed tells a story during his standup act (available on one of his CDs) about the time he posed as an umpire at a minor league baseball game as part of a comedy routine. When I heard it, I was embarrassed.
The story goes like this. When Sneed was starting out in comedy, an employee for the Dayton Dragons (currently the Class A affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds) in Dayton, OH, saw his act and recruited him to be some mid-inning entertainment at a Dragons game. The bit they had schemed was that Sneed would dress like the home plate umpire; following the conclusion of an inning, the home plate umpire would leave the field and Sneed would walk out with his mask on, thereby giving off the impression that they were the same person. Sneed would then do his act and leave.
The person who was with Sneed as a Dragons employee that day was a former linebacker for the New York Jets. This man escorted Sneed everywhere he needed to be and comforted him when Sneed was starting to get afraid of doing this. This man also promised Sneed that if he were to get in trouble, he would come out and save him.
The plan was for Sneed to go on after the third inning. However, the umpire made a call at the plate that the crowd deemed wrong and brought the wrath of unhappy customers down on the field. The star player for the Dragons (who was involved in the play) as well as their manager were both ejected. As such, Sneed and his former linebacker bodyguard called an audible and decided to wait about three more innings before going on with the bit.
Three innings later, they went through with it. The home plate umpire walked off the field. The PA announcer told the crowd that the home plate umpire was also a comedian and was going to do his act now. Sneed walked on the field to a chorus of boos and threats, including people threatening to kill him. He did his act, which ended with an insult to the crowd, which Sneed admits was a conscious decision to go down in flames with no dignity. As such, the crowd became worse; fans began throwing food at him. Sneed looked to the dugout and saw his former linebacker bodyguard come rushing out of the dugout. However, he didn't stop; he kept running faster and faster and eventually tackled Sneed to the point where he thought he had a spinal injury. The employee grabbed the microphone and said something along the lines of, "I'll take out the trash tonight!" and picked up a barely conscious Sneed and carried him off the field.
By the way, Sneed did this whole gig for $35.
But that's not the point. Let's discuss the problems here.
First of all, I'm floored that nobody in the Dragons organization didn't step up and say, "I'm not sure, but I think this is a bad idea. What if something goes wrong?" Shame on the organization for not handling itself professionally.
Second, during his act, Sneed refers to the call made by the umpire as "horrible." Perhaps this was part of the bit, but this is the behavior of someone who lacks the ability to see things from the perspective of someone else. Does he think the umpire meant to make a bad call? Could it be that the umpire made the right call and it just happened to go against the home team? When these ideas are neglected, the shortsightedness of people is exposed. Further, Sneed made the decision to go down in flames. Sneed also deserves blame.
Third, the fact that the fans would treat an umpire as such in a way that includes threats and throwing food at him, especially under the ridiculous guise that it was, in fact, the actual home plate umpire under the mask doing comedy, shows a lack of intelligence in the fans of the Dayton Dragons.
Fourth, why wouldn't this linebacker of an employee warn Sneed of such a debilitating injury? And why would he add insult to injury of saying such a ridiculous line about "taking out the trash?" The actual home plate umpire was probably livid because it was supposed to be a reflection, albeit loose, on the actual umpire.
In short, the entire Dayton Dragons organizational front office, their employees, and their fans should be ashamed of themselves. As for Josh Sneed, his act needs to be revised.
Baseball player, umpire, coach, fan; professional musician; founder, President & CEO of The OSIP Foundation, Inc.