First: New baseball rule
If a pitcher walks/hits by pitch four consecutive batters (any combination of the two) the manager is oblgiated to remove him from the game. A la, in today's Rockies-Braves game, when Jorge De La Rosa hit a batter and walked the next three straight, Clint Hurdle must remove him from the game, which possibly would have prevented 8 more runs from being scored that inning. Just maybe.
Who is caught up on this Happy Youngster controversy? I'll sum up if you're not, from what I know.
Happy Youngster is Brewers fan (Nick Yohanek for those who hate nicknames) who has the relatively unusual hobby of ball-hawking - basically, he goes to the ballpark and catches balls anyway he can - I don't know the details, but he catches tons of batting practice balls and had, before Wednesday May 14 had caught 48 home run balls without eliciting national controversy. That all changed on that Wednesday when he caught Marlins rookie Chris Coughlan's first career home run.
This is when the stories diverge, but I've been able to read his story far more completely and from what I've heard his sounds a lot more consistent - but don't worry the controversy isn't merely about exactly what happened itself. He wrote a full long blog entry about it here but it appears to have mysteriously disappeared (you can hear about it all in the audio clip linked here but unless you really don't believe me, it's not worth it - it goes on for a while).
I may be skipping something, but the gyst is - Youngster was approached by a Marlins person and offered a batting practice ball for the home run ball. Youngster declined, assured Marlins person Coughlan would get his ball, and said he would come up with what he wanted. A few innings later, he decides what he wants - a signed bat by Chris Coughlan saying something to the effect of "Thanks for catching my first home run" and a Hanley Ramirez bat. When interviewed by a Marlins TV reporter he shows his handwritten demands on the TV screen. He also asks for a MLB authenticator to authenticate the ball - according to him, and I don't know enough, but have no reason to assume he's wrong about this - there should be two at every ballpark. Anyway, the exact order is unimportant but Youngster is accused of switching the ball, told he can't get what he wants, is sent to negotiate with the team's psychologist, who is very rude to him, talks to Chris Coughlan, who is very rude to him, and is eventually told he can't get a Hanley bat and then asks for tickets to a Marlins-Brewers series instead, and ends up parting with the ball.
Coughlan's story is far less coherent. Basically, it's a story that the ball was held for ransom, and that he was pissed at the fan - but he doesn't really say much differently about the demands except that the Youngster wanted tickets to a Yankees-Marlins series, but as the guy is a hard core Brewers fan, that seems to make a lot less sense to me. The money quote is, "He told me he goes around a lot and catches these balls and holds them for ransom -- even though he doesn't say that he does, it seems that way." Basically, I don't want to nail someone too much for one quote - the best of us can say something stupid without thinking it through, and everyone does - but essentially Coughlan does not help his credibility at all but starting the quote by saying Youngster said something, and then later in the same sentence admitting Youngster didn't say that at all - essentially admitting that he lied just a few words earlier.
Basically, this preceeded a few days of the Youngster getting shat on in every possible way by both Marlins and their fans, and Brewers fans who apprently had been harbording secret resentment for years and were anxious for the chance to get it out on the national scene.
You know what? Fuck this righteous indignation. Now, I don't know every little thing Happy Youngster has done in the past. If he's pushed kids out of the way, or run over old ladies in pursuit of a ball, then I certainly don't support that. But everyone has hobbies. Some people love golf, some people love drag racing, some people love stamp collecting, and he loves catching balls. What's the big fucking deal? Who are you up on your pedestal asshole Brewers fans calling this guy out for doing something you think a kid should be doing? If he enjoys it why shouldn't he go after catching baseballs? What if I tell you whatever you like doing is immature, even if you enjoy it? Now if he's doing something shady again like pushing people, then sure, in those scenarios, that's not cool by any means. But, wearing different teams caps and shirts? Oh nos! Go fuck yourselves, self righteous Brewers fans.
Now, to the trade part of the issue. Let's start looking at this in the right light. Chris Coughlan is a major league player, albeit a rookie - but even making the absolute major league minimum he is making more than most people will ever make in a year. The Florida Marlins are a many millions of dollars sports organization, even as pitiful as they are. Miller Park Drunk, a blogger who gives drunks a bad name, writes ,"People think they are entitled to things just because they bothered to show up." Um, no. He paid for a ticket to the baseball game. He caught a ball. That's his legal property. So, sorry, folks, this has nothing to do with entitlement. He wasn't entitled to the ball - he caught it. He wasn't entitled to a Coughlan and Ramirez bat but then again Coughlan wasn't entitled to the ball, either. He engaged in what's called negotiations - they wanted something he had, and he wanted something they had. He asked for something eminently reasonable - a bat of the player who hit the home run - simple enough, and a bat of the team's best player - and then when he couldn't get the bat of Hanley, tickets for the Marlins-Brewers series in Florda (these are Marlins games - they don't sell out. EVER). This shouldn't have been hard to arrange - Coughlan has tons of bats - so let's not even debate that one, that's easy. Now I'm not sure why a Hanley bat would be so hard to get. It would take him approximately three seconds to sign one of his hundreds of bats, and he'd be doing it for a teamate. Even if that couldn't be done, there's absolutely no reason Marlins tickets couldn't be given - they can't give them away most of them time, at least here's someone who wanted then. So excuse me if I don't cry for the major league ballplayer. It's not his ball. Once it goes into the stands it's the fan's ball. It's a fan's game anyway. He could have asked for whatever he wanted, and it's in the Marlins court whether they want to exchange. That's not ransom, that's commerce. And, you know, if he had asked for something ridiculous or been more inflexible, perhaps I would actually change by stance. But he didn't and I won't.
The same blogger to whom I referred above later on writes" If I am your dentist do I keep your daughter’s first tooth? When you ask someone to take a picture of you and your friends, do they ask you what will you give them for it?" These analogies, however are incredibly inaccurate. Did Chris Coughlan ask Youngster to hold his ball? Does the dentist pay to take out the tooth? Youngster paid to the go to the game. Now, I'm not 100% positive, but I'd venture to say the tooth would not be the dentist's legal property, unlike the ball. This is getting needlessly technical but the point is, it's Youngster's ball. Now it would be cool if there would be a way it could get back to Coughlan - but oh wait, there was and it was completely reasonable and easy for the Marlins to comply with, but they made a stinking mess out of it.
Now, hell, maybe Youngster's an asshole in real life. Maybe he is divorced, maybe he doesn't pay child support, maybe he cheats on his taxes and his wife. I have no idea. But here he's right. Stop feeling sorry for professional ballplayers and teams. They're both extraordinarily successful, and are perfectly capable of giving a bat and some tickets to a fan for a ball one of their players wants - a trade that costs them very little. And I almost have as little respect for the Brewers bloggers getting on his case as people on the Marlins side. If it's for something else he's done, fine - I don't know - I tried to find out more details about his catch about Geoff Jenkins 200th home run ball - it seemed he asked for a Prince bat, which again seems very reasonable to me - but I don't know for sure and thus won't comment it. But here you're wrong, get off your high horse, and deal with it.