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Yankee fan of the week: John Gruber

[I’d have said “Jackass of the Week”, but that would be redundant. Ba-da-bing.]

By responding to John Gruber’s comment on the Shelly Duncan autograph incident, I know I’m opening myself up to the same criticism of humorlessness; but it ticks me off every time I read it.

For the record, I’m an Orioles fan — there, I said it — but I have ties to the Boston area through both ancestry and schooling, and so whatever bias I may have in the situation is toward the Red Sox. (As would anyone else not a Yankees fan, I dare say.)

I think most people would agree that there’s a point at which writing “Red Sox suck!” on an autograph for a Red Sox fan is clearly intended as a good-natured jibe, and a point at which it is clearly inappropriate. For a 37-year-old beer-bellied bleacher dweller, for instance, it’s clearly a joke. For a four-year-old little girl with a red balloon, it’s clearly inappropriate. Agreed?

Now the question becomes where you draw the line. I think a 10-year-old boy pretty clearly falls on the “inappropriate” side of the line. Gruber apparently disagrees. I think if the boy had been a teenager — 14, at least — I would be more inclined to see it as a joke, however lame and unsubtle.

Of course, Duncan offers no apology, as quoted in the followup story:

> “I thought I was back in middle school or high school, where you try to make a joke or say something funny, and you end up saying something that gets you in trouble,” Duncan said … “I try to rile ’em up and be fun. I don’t expect anybody to make a big deal about it. Nobody ever has before.”

“It was just a joke! Can’t you take a joke?” *I* caused offense, but it’s *your* fault.

As for Gruber’s comments: well, they’re exactly what I’d expect to hear from a Yankees fan.

> When I was 10 I would have laughed my ass off if some player from the Red Sox had given me a “Yankees suck!” autograph.

Yeah, sure, because when you were 10, you were a punk-assed kid whose favorite team had won 26 World Series in the last sixty years. That’s pretty big of you. Suppose you’d been a Red Sox fan — but no, that would be impossible for you to imagine, rooting for one of the little teams that’s supposed to just roll over and play dead before the mighty pinstripes.

I speak from painful observation — although I am a part-season ticket owner, I haven’t attended a Yankees/Orioles game in years, because I don’t care to see ten thousand arrogant, foul-mouthed, drunken Yankees fans invade my home ballpark and ruin my afternoon. I certainly wouldn’t take my children there.

(I’ve stopped going to Orioles/Red Sox games, too, because the Red Sox Nation has become nearly as insufferable, and there’s even more of them, if that’s possible. Camden Street looks like Kenmore Square. And yes, I’m all too aware that the Orioles have brought this on themselves, for the twin crimes of organizational incompetence and being in the AL East.)

I don’t even really hate the Yankees. (Well, maybe Rodriguez. And Jeter.) I just want the Yankees to lose — in as humiliating a manner as possible — to piss off the Yankee fans. Ah, 2004. Sweet, sweet 2004… but of course that only put the tiniest dent in their insufferable arrogance. I’ve seen the T-shirts: “Still 26 to 1.” Hmmph.

That’s OK. I know of plenty other ways a baseball team can be humiliated. (Did I mention I was an Orioles fan?)