When I read the headline that stated that racial slurs and peanuts were hurled at Adam Jones, my first thought was “Pacman Jones? Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.” Was that the correct response to these allegations, even if they were leveled at a horrible person like Pacman? Probably not. Was it even the right Adam Jones? Nope, not at all. Upon actually reading the article and finding out the particulars (Jones, the outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles was verbally, and in the case of the peanuts, physically accosted during the game on Monday night as he was in centerfield) it filled me with disappointment. Disappointment in us as human beings.
First of all, you can hate Adam Jones, or players on opposing teams all you want (especially those in pinstripes) but sports are supposed to bring us together. For three hours on a Monday night, everyone at Fenway Park was able to put aside thoughts of their impending bills, their troubles at work, or the issues their kids are having at school. You can be the biggest asshole in the world, but when you step through the gates of any sports arena in the country, there is a code. Be decent, enjoy the game, realize that if your team wins, there will be thousands of people there to celebrate with and if they lose you will have thousands of people all feeling the same disappointment. There is a certain brotherhood to having a favorite team. You may not know someone, but if you pass that individual in the grocery store and you’re both sporting the same “colors” you’ll most likely get at least a head nod of acknowledgement, if not an actual conversation.
By acting like an asshole, by throwing racial slurs at a guy that’s really just out there trying to do his job, by literally throwing objects at him, you have broken the code. Let’s not even bring into the equation that the Red Sox have two of the more prominent black players in the league in Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. No one was throwing slurs at them, were they? That means that maybe the individuals in question weren’t actually a racist, but their smack talk game is so weak they had to go for the low hanging fruit, like someone’s skin color. As someone that loves a good insult, that offends me.
Let’s also talk about the security situation at Fenway. How was this allowed to happen? I have sat in the center-field bleachers at Fenway Park. I love it out there, actually. But one thing you notice out there is that there are ushers/security individuals patrolling right along the railing, making sure that no one gets too close or goes over onto the field. Obviously, I know that things happen, that even seasoned security guards can miss things, and we’ve seen plenty of examples of fans on the field of many sporting events as proof of that. If Jones could hear multiple people hurling racial epithets at him, I feel like it’s something that security could have heard as well. Yes, it may have been hard to pick out who actually did it, but after hearing it once, that should put the guards on high alert and when it happens again, they should be ready to act appropriately. This was a failure of the security personnel and a failure of humanity.
I did read that the individual that threw the peanuts was ejected, which is a good thing. While I don’t agree with Jones that someone should be fined tens of thousands of dollars for that, I can see where a more appropriate punishment would be appropriate. An arrest for assault, or attempted assault maybe? Something on an individual’s record branding them would be fairer than docking someone an entire year’s salary.
In summary, we can do better, plain and simple, as human beings. I may be a grumpy son of a bitch, but I know when I walk through the gates at Fenway Park, or wherever, that there is a level of public expectation, of human expectation. If you can’t live by the code, you can’t participate, that’s it, no argument, no discussion. If you’re going to come to a ballpark and the best insult you can hurl at the opposing players is based on their skin color, you don’t belong there. Frankly, you don’t belong anywhere.