As the lawyers like to say, let’s stipulate a few things.
One is We the People don’t care for a lot of rules in our lives. Another is we love to complain. And sue each other. And complain about that. And get on TV for our flickering moment of fame. We really like that one.
Yes, these all go together.
Consider lawn darts. Small, heavy backyard javelins, with fins for better aerodynamics, tossed toward a distant target in friendly competition. What could go wrong? Plenty, obviously. Ask an objective observer if this is a sound idea, and the answer is good grief, no.
A wise and benevolent ruler would ban them in a heartbeat, but thankfully – for a host of reasons – that’s not the country we live in. Instead, we endure the havoc and only then rush to the courts or legislature for relief. (Lawn darts have been gone for years.)
It’s not enough to have a terrible idea. It has to be a documented terrible idea before we legislate or litigate a solution. That’s the system.
But a big, fat part of that system is that anyone can sue over anything. And very well might.
This brings us to the knucklehead of the week, the guy who fell asleep at a Major League Baseball game. It was the Yankees and Red Sox, which means it was mandatorally on ESPN. He was sitting in a good seat, so he had a really good chance of getting on TV, and he had to be at least dimly aware of that.
Baseball, especially at the Major League level, is about custom and code, a way of doing things, and the TV announcers are among the keepers of that code. Their comments in this case, sarcastic but not over the top, basically amounted to: This is something that one simply does not do. Don’t be “that guy.”
And it’s on. He’s suing the announcers, he’s suing ESPN, he’s suing Major League Baseball, and he’s suing the Yankees. He wants $10 million. It turns out that his moment of flickering fame has arrived but not in the way he might have imagined, and he says his reputation has been grievously damaged. Seriously.
Well, there’s no better way to get past a bad moment than to file a $10 million lawsuit to bring it all up again. Then again, maybe that’s not the end game. He wouldn’t be the first person to fan a flickering moment of notoriety into years of babbling on cable. There’s always “reality TV,” though he’s basically had one bad brush with that already.
We don’t like rules or codes, even the informal ones – the ones enforced with a cold glance, not a ticket – that we supposedly used to embrace. Rules such as, don’t be “that guy.” You fell asleep at a ball game? On TV? And you’re embarrassed? Well, good. You should be. Let’s move on.
That that guy is everywhere now, reveling in his that-guyness instead of sheepishly mending his ways. Someone should sue him. It might be the only way to make him stop.
Jeff Fox tweets about baseball and other things @Jeff_Fox.