Thursday, June 17, 2004

Jerks in military prisons, part II

Monday I posted a story about the husky guy at a Texas Rangers game who pinned 4-year old Nick O'Brien against his seat as he scrambled to get a foul ball. Several fans had words with the guy and at one point the crowd started chanting "Give him the ball" (referring to the 4-year old). The 'husky man' did no such thing and left the stadium before the game ended.

Well the story didn't end there. Apparently the culprit, 28-year old Matt Starr cuts grass for a living and used to work full-time for the Lord.
The man who took the foul ball has not responded publicly to the criticism, but The Dallas Morning News identified him as Matt Starr, a married, 28-year-old landscaper and former youth minister.

Starr is "not the bad guy he's been made out to be," said Rick DuBose, senior pastor of the Sachse Assembly of God Church. "He probably got a little aggressive and did something he regrets. But that's not Matt. He's a good kid, a good young man."
Hmmm. Let's see. A big fat guy leaps over several rows -- rows that include a 4-year old boy pinned under one of his beefy legs -- to snag a foul ball that fell at the feet of said 4-year old, refuses to give up the ball and leaves the stadium amidst all the ridicule he received for being such a jackass. I think Stone is exactly the bad guy he's made out to be. And it gets worse.
"I couldn't believe someone would do something like that to a 4-year-old boy," said Nick's mother, Edie O'Brien.

O'Brien said she swatted the man with a cardboard fan and called him a jerk, among other names. "I said, 'You trampled a 4-year-old boy to get this ball,' and he said, 'Oh, well,'" she told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, adding that the man seemed proud he got the ball.

Video shows Nick was standing up as the man dived across the boy's seat to grab the ball at Nick's feet. The man's leg strikes the boy, and the boy is jostled a second time as the man stands up with the ball and appears to exchange words with the mother.

Nick wasn't hurt, but fan outrage mushroomed, and even Rangers announcer Tom Grieve voiced his disapproval on TV, calling the man "the biggest jerk in this park." The man and a woman with him left before the game was over.
Say what you want, but if there's an ESPY for being a jerk, this guy wins hands down. It's bad enough when it happens and the offender is just your average, run-of-the-mill redneck who takes pleasure in others misfortune -- often as a result of his own doing. But Stone was a former youth minister. So not only was he preaching the Good Word, he was specifically dealing with young people -- probably only slightly older than the young person he administered the 'atomic knee-drop' in his efforts to get the foul ball.

Dude, it's a baseball. You can buy one for $5 at any sporting goods store. What an awful guy. From now on I hope he's identified around town as 'the dope who almost killed a 4-year old to get a stupid baseball' guy.

It really says something when everyone in the park -- including the players who are often accused of being overpaid and often out of touch -- realized that this guy was so in the wrong that it had to be rectified. It's too bad Karim Garcia and Jeff Nelson didn't play in the game. Maybe Stone could have met them in the bullpen and really seen what kind of damage two fat guys can do (to be fair, Nelson's not fat, he's just a redneck, but you get the point).

It's really embarrassing when stuff like this happens but it's certainly comforting to know that everybody (but one) in the park wanted to right the wrong immediately after it happened. Stone should be arrested, fired from his job and hauled into the town square to be ridiculed publicly. What a dope.

Apparently the Lord had a talk with Matt Starr becuase the AP is reporting that he will return the ball to Nick Stone. He also agreed to send a letter of apology and buy them tickets to a future Rangers game.

No matter how he came to the decision (whether he was influenced by his friends and family or if he realized that he was indeed being a jerk, or even if he got tired of the harrassing phone calls he was receiving from the national media), it's good to see he did the right thing. That said, he should still be made to keep his appointment with Mssrs. Garcia and Nelson just to make sure it never happens again.