Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fun at the ol' ball park

Bad enough that the New York Yankees' pitching staff has recently gotten into the habit of imploding at key moments. Turns out that the team also has a policy requiring fans to stay at their seats while "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "God Bless America" play during the seventh-inning stretch. Attempting to leave your seat can have serious consequences, as Bradley Campeau-Laurion discovered at a Yankees-Red Sox game last season when he tried to go to the bathroom:

I attempted to get up to use the restroom, rather urgently, during the 7th inning stretch as God Bless America was beginning. As I attempted to walk down the aisle and exit my section into the tunnel, I was stopped by a police officer. He informed me that I had to wait until the song was over. I responded that I had to use the restroom and that I did not care about God Bless America.

As soon as the latter came out of my mouth, my right arm was twisted violenty behind my back and I was informed that I was being escorted out of the stadium. A second officer then joined in and twisted my left arm, also in an excessively forceful manner, behind my back. I informed them they were violating my First Amendment rights and that I had done nothing wrong, with no response from them.

I was sitting in the Tier Level, and of course this is the highest level of the stadium and I was escorted in this painful manner down the entire length of the stadium. About halfway down, I informed them that they were hurting me, repeated that I had done nothing wrong, and that I was not resisting nor talking back to them. One of them said something to the effect that if I continued to speak, he would find a way to hurt me more.

When we reached the exit of the stadium, they confiscated my ticket and the first officer shoved me through the turnstiles, saying "Get the hell out of my country if you don't like it."

Campeau-Laurion admits to being a Red Sox fan and an atheist, neither of which could have helped him much in dealing with New York's Finest. For their part, the NYPD said they were escorting an excessively drunken spectator out of Yankee Stadium, although Dave Zirin pointed out, "If it were standard procedure for the NYPD to kick out every drunken fan from Yankee Stadium, the place would be emptier than a John Ashcroft concert at the Apollo Theatre". Campeau-Laurion said that he had drank two beers.

If the Yankees' pitching doesn't improve soon, they're likely to start chaining fans to their chairs until the game ends.