Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

How To Attend A Sporting Event Like A Functional Adult

Illustration for article titled How To Attend A Sporting Event Like A Functional Adult

First, a story of bad fan behavior.

In 1995, some family member or another managed to score some tickets to a 'Skins game at RFK Stadium, from a friend or coworker who couldn't use them. They weren't great seats—front row of the upper deck, between the uprights at one end—but for us, this was a pretty big deal, since even the shittiest low-earth-orbit seats usually were well outside of our price range. My brother and I were 14, and obsessive fans and players of football; that attending this random regular-season NFL game (I don't even remember the opponent!) was one of the highlights of my life to that point is both kind of embarrassing but also undeniably true.


So, as overexcited doofus herbs will, our family got to the stadium early as hell—not to tailgate (we wouldn't have known how to do that), but to go inside, find our seats, and just sorta take in the size and buzz and coolness of the whole thing, like a bunch of goofy tourists. The stadium was so huge! And look: There were some of the players, milling around on the field! And oh wow, this guy over here is a belligerent fall-down drunken mess, no less than 90 minutes before kickoff!

I'll never forget this dude. Late forties or early fifties, sandy-colored hair, 'Skins ballcap, overlarge eighties-style eyeglasses years before there would have been any retro or ironic benefit to such a stylistic choice. The overall look—clean shave, neat buzzcut, barrel chest, turgid beach-ball beer belly, spindly spider legs, sweaty (and ketchup-red) complexion—put you in mind of a guy who'd cashed in his brief, decades-ago Coast Guard service for a middle rung in one of D.C.'s many vast bureaucracies, season tickets to 'Skins games, a nightly case of beer, and an all-encompassing sense of white-man entitlement.


(Note: Every white man in D.C. looked like him back then, and they were all pretty terrifying. Nowadays they're decades younger, obsessively fit, and speak entirely in business-proposal jargon. Then as now, though, they're all identical to each other, and if anything they're even more frightening than they used to be.)

Anyway, this dude was drunk. Slurring, stumbling, irrational drunk. The particular drunk you hit deep into the wee hours where you're still with it juuuuust enough to formulate, and pursue, a very stupid goal, but too far gone to even register the discomfort and/or horror of the people around you. Probably many of us have been there! The put-upon employees of your local Walmart probably remember better than you do your three-a.m. quest for Pee-Wee's Playhouse on VHS, and a VCR to play it on, just like it used to be, man, and how eventually they had to tell you they kept the VHS library in the concrete planter out front and then lock and close the store after you stepped outside, and how after five minutes of sloppy sobbing you climbed into that planter and went to sleep, snoring like the score of Inception.

It's a bad drunk in all cases, and worse for some than for others—for example, this guy at the football game, who we will call Walter, because he looked like a Walter. Walter's drunken goal, evidently, was to cause the actual death of 'Skins safety James Washington, via enraged, frothing vitriol alone. Washington had come over from the Dallas Cowboys in free agency for what turned out to be his final NFL season, and I guess Walter wasn't ready to forgive the years of service to the team's arch rival. The Skins' defensive backs were doing drills in the endzone below us, and Walter was reacting to the sight of James Washington in a 'Skins uniform in roughly the way a sane, reasonable, sober man might react to the sight of the drunk driver who ran over his child.

This wasn't heckling. Hecklers, 99 percent of whom suck, at least are having fun, or trying to. Walter was not having fun. He was engaging in something deadly serious and intensely personal; policemen's funerals are more lighthearted. Even if it may have begun as something like even-stupider-than-all-other-heckling heckling—"You suck, James!" and "Go back to Dallas!"—it devolved into an unhinged, incoherent, bug-eyed fit almost immediately. You know at the end of The Shining, when Wendy and Danny are cruising away from the Overlook Hotel in the snowcat, and Jack is lost in the hedge maze, murderous and insane and just kind of roaring unintelligibly at the top of his lungs? If you watch that scene with the closed-captioning turned on, turns out that Jack is saying, "Jesus, Walter, maybe you oughtta settle down, man."


Someone in his party—his wife, maybe?—tried to calm Walter down, and he raged at her, then went back to raging at James Washington. Everyone in earshot was freaked out and pretending not to see him. He went hoarse from screaming! He was leaning over the railing! Security came and dragged him away long before kickoff; if he saw any part of the actual game he'd paid to attend, it likely was on a closed-circuit TV in the stadium's security office. I'm almost certain James Washington—who later that season got in trouble for throwing a punch at a heckling fan—never even heard him.

That is dumbass fan behavior: No one got anything out of it except a cautionary tale. "Don't be Walter" is pretty good advice for sports fans.


Anyway, baseball season is upon us, and baseball is the easiest and most available (and in some ways, the best) professional sport to watch in person, and so this is a good time to talk about how to attend a sporting event—functional stuff like shopping for tickets, and also tips and advice for having the best possible time. Walter was a football fan at a football game, of course, but he ignored at least a couple of sensible best practices for attending pretty much any kind of sporting event. We'll get to those in a second; first, you have to get to the thing, so let's start from the beginning.

General Guidelines For Getting Tickets To Sporting Events

The commenters will get into specifics—annoying, pedantic specifics—down below. Up here, we'll speak generally. The first thing to do is to be realistic: Unless you're a millionaire celebrity, you'll happen across a genuinely great deal on great seats at a great game about as often as you'll happen across a $20 bill on the sidewalk. The rest of the time—all of the time, basically—you'll have a subset of that trinity (seats, price, quality of the game), and you'll have to decide whether it's worth it.


Broadly speaking, you've got three avenues for getting tickets: the box office, internet resellers, and scalpers. If you know what they're good for and when to use them, you should at least be able to avoid getting fleeced.

When to get tickets from the team or stadium box office.

The venue box office (in almost all cases managed by Ticketmaster) is a good way to get tickets if you've targeted a game months in advance, or if you just now saw an advertisement for a particularly good deal—like the ones where you get two single-game tickets and a voucher for a certain amount of concessions for $20, or kids get in free, or whatever—or if both teams suck and you know it won't be a sellout. If the game is a high-profile one (if it's a division game, or LeBron or the Red Sox are in town, or whatever) and it's not, like, four months away, eh, maybe you give a call to the box office just in case, or just to have a laugh at the incredulity in the rep's voice when you ask, but don't get your hopes up. They won't have anything, and if they do it'll be one seat, and either the most expensive seat in the house, or the worst.


When to get tickets from internet resellers.

In those instances when the box office can't help you for less than the cost of several donated organs—like if the game's only a week or two away, or it's a big high-profile game—that's when to turn to StubHub or other internet ticket brokers. Now, StubHub frequently sucks, and in the case of high-profile games the tickets likely will cost at least as much as the box office charges, if not more, but it'll have tickets available longer than the box office will. Plus, if you check frequently and are willing to wait until the last minute and risk not going at all, sometimes you can get a good discount on a lower-profile event, like the third game of an interleague series against some lousy bottom-feeding shit-heap from across the country.


Don't scoff at these games! Particularly in the case of baseball, the low-attendance games against anonymous teams can be just as enjoyable, in their way, as the ones when the Red Sox are in town and the stadium fills up with dinguses who identify with the city of Boston because they liked Mystic River and their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother owned an Irish setter. You put your feet up and fill in a scorecard and chat with the few other fans, and it's a great time. NBA and NHL games are always fun in person just because those sports are amazing to watch up close—you notice so much more!—even when the teams aren't so good. There's a different calculus for the NFL, which we'll get into in a bit.

When to get tickets from a scalper.

If the box office and the resale joints couldn't help you, don't give up! Probably you can still get tickets to the game. If you've got no more than two people in your party, and you're willing to sit apart if it comes to that, and the home team's stadium is in a busy downtown area with other options for doing fun shit*, and you're willing to go do some of that fun shit instead of going to the game if you can't score tickets, and you're cool with missing the first half-inning or first few minutes of the action, head on over to the stadium and talk to the scalpers.


Wait until a minute or two after the game starts, when foot-traffic starts to dwindle and the scalpers start looking to get rid of the tickets before they become worthless. Be willing to make a lower counter-offer to the offered price, and be willing to walk away and go do something else, and you might score some cheap-ass seats. Also, go online beforehand, look at a map of the arena, and get a sense of how the sections are numbered; in virtually all cases, lower section numbers equal lower seats, and maybe you'll have options. Or you might find that all the scalped tickets have been sold, which (again) is why you should only do this if the stadium is in a cool part of town where there's other good shit to do.

Don't feel like you need to be some wised-up street-smart negotiator, here. You don't need to play the scalpers off each other or examine the tickets under ultraviolet light or whatever. Yes, there are horror stories of scalpers selling dopes tickets to yesterday's game, but for the most part they're not trying to do anything shadier than turn a profit (or minimize their losses), and anyway you shouldn't be in such a big hurry that you'll fork over cash for tickets you haven't even looked at yet.


When not to even consider getting tickets from a scalper.

If you are in the company of someone who might be ambivalent about the entire attending-a-sporting-event thing (like, say, a date who's not really into the sport in question, but is tagging along for the sake of being with you), you will need to have the ticket situation sorted out before you even head in the direction of the venue. This is just common courtesy. Asking someone to come along to a three-hour (or longer) ballgame that he or she's not even interested in watching is one thing; asking that person to tolerate you while you flit among a bunch of scalpers at the last minute, trying to find a pair of seats that are next to each other and closer to the court/field than to orbital telecommunications satellites, is something else altogether. Also, not for nothing, but you run the risk of looking like an impotent, ineffectual herb if you can't get tickets.


If you ignore this advice and try to get some scalped tickets while out with a date who doesn't give a damn about baseball, at least come armed with a very good backup plan—a cool restaurant, a good show, something—and a determination to spend no more than maybe five minutes (which will seem like the blink of an eye to you, and like an eternity to the poor sucker waiting on the side) trying to get tickets before moving on to the backup plan.

Likewise, if you are taking your kid(s) to a ballgame, complete the ticket arrangements before you leave home unless you're dead certain you can get scalped tickets pretty quickly and look cool and streetwise while doing so. Otherwise they will grow up to be beatniks.


*FedEx Field, home of D.C.'s NFL team, is the worst place on earth for this. Not only is it miles and miles away from anything good, but the stadium and its surrounding areas were planned and designed for maximum hostility to pedestrians; you can't even get close enough to it to look for scalpers without making a day of the venture and paying flatly outrageous parking fees. Plus, the organization treats its own stadium employees like prison inmates, so they'd probably aim a Mattress Discounters-sponsored cruise missile at anybody trying to scalp a ticket. And then even if you somehow could score a scalped ticket, it'd be to a fucking 'Skins game, which is like paying to have a rat chew on your eyeballs for four hours.

How To Get To The Sporting Event

Parking options within reasonable distance of the venue likely cost pretty much all of the money on earth, so if you can avoid driving, avoid driving. The one exception to this is if your ticket comes with a parking pass, in which case you probably should drive, unless the stadium/arena is notorious for its apocalyptic postgame traffic snarls.* You won't be able to drink as much, but that's a fair trade for avoiding both the price of public parking and the postgame nightmare of tens of thousands of drunk sports fans cramming into every available public-transit option for the ensuing two hours.


If you live in a metropolitan area in which the pro sports team moved to the suburbs, beyond the reach of public transit, in a transparent attempt at limiting the number of scary, scary black people who can attend the game, watch the game on TV.

*Here again, FedEx Field is the goddamn worst. Going to a game there is an all-day affair; the game itself won't last as long as the combined time spent entering and exiting the parking lot.


Sensible Rules For Attending Pretty Much Any Kind Of Sporting Event

Don't show up drunk.

This was one of Walter's mistakes, and it's just weird-ass, dumber-than-hell behavior. Some drinking before the game is fine, of course, and maybe even advisable: Beer is expensive as hell inside the venue, so doing some of your planned imbibing on the (relatively) cheap before you get there just makes sense. But your ticket is a waste pretty much from the jump if you show up to the game real-deal drunk.


Show up with the kind of buzz that makes you fun company—the kind of buzz where you'll go, "The wave? Sure, what the hell, I'll do that!" and not the kind where you'll go, "The back of a stranger's head? Sure, what the hell, I'll puke on that." That's just good advice for going out in public without being a gross fucking slob.

Also, don't get plastered while you're there.

Many readers are going to take issue with this one. Fuck 'em. Eat enough food and drink enough non-alcohol to keep yourself from falling apart. Getting hammered at a sporting event is obnoxious and stupid.


Listen. Attending a ballgame puts you in close, sometimes uncomfortably immediate proximity to many strangers. This arrangement only works if everybody takes at least a little responsibility for not making the experience shitty for the strangers around them. Those strangers may have their own various reasons for attending the game instead of watching at home; the safest assumption is that those reasons do not include a desire to hang out with some shithoused stranger with a slowly loosening grip on his bodily functions for a couple of hours. Have some consideration for the people around you: drink, and revel, and have fun, but keep it together; they came to watch the show on the field, not to watch you relive the lowlights of your frat days in the stands.

If consideration for other human beings can't convince you to stop short of sloppy intoxication, consider that it's also smart. Sports tickets cost money; the events they get you into last for hours and are more enjoyable and more rewarding when you've got your shit together enough to keep up with what's happening in them and remember it afterward. Also, sporting events are kind of a lousy place to be shitfaced drunk, what with their central feature being a complex and brightly-lit spectacle that rewards rapt attention, surrounded by dozens of steep staircases and innumerable smartphone cameras. Many places—bars, clubs, karaoke joints, backyards, etc.—offer a better setting for your reenactment of Leaving Las Vegas without tickets or assigned seating at all.


If you can feel your umbrage rising at the suggestion that there might be social situations in which blackout drunkenness is inappropriate, reconsider your relationship with alcohol. If you can't enjoy a sporting event you're sober enough to remember afterward, reconsider your relationship with sports.

Bring your basic human decency with you.

Time for another (shorter) story of bad fan behavior at a 'Skins game.

One of the other few times my family scored tickets to a 'Skins game was a New Years Day game against the Minnesota Vikings, the last game of a miserable, wasted season. It was cold as hell, and the stadium had nasty, gray, compressed snow and ice on all the guardrails and flat surfaces. Late in the game, some 'Skins fans in the upper deck began pelting wads and shards of this hard-ass stuff down onto a group of Vikings fans in the lower bowl. It was awful. The Vikings fans had to huddle over their goddamn children to protect them as they fled for the exits. This, needless to say, is atrocious fan behavior.


Listen. Sporting events are a stirring and thrilling entertainment product; they are not a war. The stadium (probably) is just an overpriced civic boondoggle with lots of seats in it; it is not your home, or anybody else's. The guy six rows down in the away team's jersey is just a guy who likes the other sports team; he is not the agent of an invasive force. You are enjoying a vaguely interactive live show; you are not defending anything, or representing anything other than what kind of person you are.

So! If you're there to root for the home team, don't harass opposing fans or make them feel like shit for being there. Certainly do not assault them with shards of ice. If you are a gregarious, tolerant person, giving them some mild, good-natured shit is not only okay, but actually kind of cool and paradoxically welcoming, so long as they're receptive to it and willing to give it back, and you're willing to take their return volleys with good humor. You're all there to have a good time, and it'll be a better time for everybody if you don't act like a territorial fartbag or a sociopath.


If you're there to root for the visiting team, don't be a smarmy dickweed. You are not the lone defiant flag-bearer in imperial territory; you are just a sports fan in the company of other sports fans. Again: Some mild shit-giving is perfectly okay, but you know when you're being good-humored and when you're being an asswipe, so err on the side of the former. You don't get any bonus points for making everybody else go home miserable. You will not have conquered their city. You will just have been an asshole to a bunch of strangers.

Likewise, if your team wins, no matter which team it is, some mild face-rubbing— Ooooh, in your FACE!—is permissible. Hounding the opposing fans out of the venue in a hail of derision is not. If your team loses, no matter which team it is, eat shit like a grownup: don't start reciting the two franchises' lifetime winning percentages, or bring up the name of some guy on the other team who got arrested for drunk driving, or whatever. Your team lost a sports game. It's okay. You don't have to reclaim your honor, because it didn't go anywhere, and the only thing that puts it at risk is you acting like a penis.


It's the Golden Rule. Treat the people around you how you would want to be treated—not how you expect to be treated, or how you're willing to be treated, or how your abusive father treated you, or how we do things in Philly ya fuckin' douchebag, we don't take shit from anybody, we eat our grease sandwiches and make life miserable for everyone, go fuck yourself.

Be game for goofy shit.

Don't be the guy who rolls his eyes and sulks during the stupid "Sweet Caroline" thing, or who gets red-faced and angry when the dumb wave makes its way around the stadium. Don't flip the bird if the obnoxious Kiss Cam finds you. Don't be the guy who sits in judgment of the unsophisticated enthusiasm of the goobers around you. Everybody hates that guy. And anyway, what's the point of bringing a buzz to the game if you're just gonna be a shitty, superior sourpuss the whole time?


Be the guy who'll smile at the silliness of this nonsense and go along with it, within limits. Everybody likes that guy! Like it or not, you're all in this shit together, so you might as well do your part to contribute to a fun atmosphere. Do the stupid goddamn wave the first time it comes around, and then kinda halfheartedly put your arms up the second time, and after that you may ignore it.

Be sociable.

It's a social gathering! You're all there, you all like whatever sport it is, you're all subject to whatever the weather situation is—that's enough stuff in common for a perfectly enjoyable two- or three-hour friendship. Chat up the people around you. Commiserate about the misery of watching Dour Underperforming Veteran Mercenary. Share a hearty, non-dorky hand gesture when Promising Young Cock socks a dinger. It's fun! Also somebody might offer to buy you a beer, which is just the best goddamn thing.


Observe the cheering customs of the sport.

We'll get into sport-specific stuff a bit more below, but: Do not give people a hard time for standing at a basketball game. Or a football game. Or a baseball game. Or a soccer match. Or a wrestling promotion. If standing to see past them isn't possible or comfortable for you, you will have to make other arrangements for watching the action; these can include finding and sitting in a special section for people with disabilities, buying a seat at the front of a section so no one can stand directly in front of you, or staying home and watching on TV. A ticket to one of these sports buys access to a seat (and in the case of European soccer, sometimes not even that); it does not include a moral obligation to remain seated in it at all times.


On the other hand, don't stand up during the action at a tennis match—or, if you're going to, expect that you're gonna catch shit for it and might get ejected.

The exception to this rule is the Masters. If you are at the Masters, why, but also: Pull your dick out. Screech the lyrics to "Holiday in Cambodia" during friggin' Dustin Johnson's backswing. Make snow angels in the sandtraps. Snatch some peckerwood's ball off the fairway and hightail it for the Mexican border. Who gives a fuck. Fuck the Masters. Their cheese sandwiches are garbage.


Sensible Rules About Heckling The Participants

Probably just don't do it.

An unfortunate reality is that most people are neither especially quick-witted nor especially funny, particularly when shouting at the top of their lungs in a huge crowd of strangers. Odds are, whatever you and your dear old grandma think of your abilities, you fall somewhere in the broad middle of the wit-and-humor spectrum: You can be funny as hell in the right setting among the right people, but the rest of the time you're just some dude who's not all that funny.


This is to say that your attempts at heckling will not add to the entertainment value of the sporting event for anybody but you, and if you're okay with yelling things that would be annoying to everyone but you, you should do that in a place where you're the only person, because you are an oaf.

If you're gonna do it, be realistic about what you are trying to accomplish.

My brother and I sat near a group of Detroit fans at a Wizards home game last season, when Josh Smith was still on the Pistons, and for the first few minutes of the game, every time he touched the ball more than five feet from the basket we both yelled, "Shoot it!" (because Josh Smith is terrible at shooting). It was sorta mildly funny at first, and harmless, if not remotely creative or inspired: Smith would catch the ball 35 feet from the hoop in the relative quiet of a regular-season first quarter and two voices would cry out, "Shoot it!" and even the Pistons fans were chuckling at the silliness of it.


After those first few minutes, though, you could see it losing its charm. Since making people laugh was the only reason to do it, and the laughter was dying down, we stopped doing it. Later, in the second half, when Josh Smith hit some shots during a big Pistons run, some of the Pistons fans started yelling, "Shoot it!" when he touched the ball, and damn, yeah, they got us. We took our L like grownups.

The point is, if you're going to do heckling-like stuff, do it for the other fans, try to make them laugh, and don't expect anything from the athletes themselves. They are not going to banter with you, and they are not going to invite you out for beers. "Getting a rise out of them" is an unworthy goal you will not accomplish without behaving like a vile shithead; if you're willing to go there, you shouldn't be.


But seriously, mostly just don't heckle.

The players and coaches are there to interact with each other, not with you. If the home team gets a morale boost from the crowd's cheering, or the visiting team gets the yips from the ferocity of the crowd's booing, fine. But, know your place. They're there to provide the show; you're there to watch it, and cheer for it as part of the crowd, and not to interject yourself. If you can't accept that deal, stay home.


Some Guidelines For Eating And Drinking At The Game

The smaller beers are better values.

This is true even when the "large" cup and the "small" cup don't hold the exact same volume of beer in deceptively different shapes. However many extra ounces the large cup holds, it holds them much more expensively than it holds all the rest. Get the smaller beer, drink it, and then get another one if you want some more beer.


Or, hell, get the large beer if you want to limit your trips to the concourse and the extra money strikes you as a fair price for that.

The foot-long hot dog is the best hot dog value.

Many ballparks offer a selection of hot dogs, from the regular frank to some variety of fancier-seeming sausage to a regular frank that's a bit larger to the foot-long. The foot-long is a good deal. It doesn't cost as much as the fancy-seeming sausage, and the extra centimeters of hot dog usually aren't as pricey as however much extra dog you get from the "large" hot dog. Plus, what the hell, how often do you get to eat a foot-long hot dog.


Sneaking in some foodstuffs is okay, but don't be ridiculous about it.

A freezer bag full of cheap candy is fine. A little grandmotherly, but fine. A modest container of booze or a hidden soft drink or a bottle of water: also fine. If you are hauling a goddamn roast chicken and hotel minibar out of the dark recesses of your coat, you are a dingus.


Yes, the venue prices its concessions outrageously and makes up ridiculous rules intended to force you to purchase them. Some rebellion against this setup is fine, and—once you get the stuff inside—the stadium staff mostly will ignore it so long as you're discreet and don't force their hand. Beyond a certain point, though, you're basically daring some poor underpaid schlub to enforce the rules or risk his job. If you're intent of having a whole meal during the game and absolutely unwilling to buy it at the arena, go to a restaurant with televisions or stay home.

A Few Sport-Specific Things To Know

At a basketball game:

  • As you'd expect, the view from midcourt is the best one to have. You'd rather have a higher-up seat with a nice wide midcourt view than a lower-down seat off in a corner where the angle's weird and you can't really follow the action at the other end.
  • Many home crowds do a thing where they stand and cheer as loudly as they can until the home team scores its first bucket. This rarely lasts longer than a minute or two, and it's kind of fun.
  • Go nuts when the other team shoots free throws; be quiet when your team does.
  • When the home team scores a few consecutive buckets and the visitors call timeout to collect themselves and make adjustments, the home crowd goes nuts so the visitors will have to yell and strain to hear each other in the huddle. When the roles are reversed, the home crowd shuts the hell up, or probably should. Act accordingly.
  • You can safely assume that many, if not most or all of the concession stands will begin shutting down during the third quarter. Anticipate this, and anticipate that everyone else will anticipate this, and maybe sneak out there during the closing minutes of the first half to grab your last beer or tray of nachos or whatever before the halftime crunch. Nurse that beer! You'll miss it the very moment it's gone.
  • Yes, leaving before the end of a blowout is fine.

At a baseball game:

  • This fan's opinion is that the only truly bad seat at a baseball game is a lower-deck seat way down by the foul pole. Unless you're in the front row, it's pretty miserable. Pretty much every other seat is fine. I've sat in the distant right-field upper deck of Baltimore Orioles games and had a great time.
  • Filling out a scorecard is one of humankind's most underrated activities, particularly during a sunlit afternoon game in the middle of the season. It keeps you engaged in the game, but it's a relaxed, low-wattage engagement, perfectly suited to the laid-back atmosphere of a random midseason baseball game. You should do this at least once in your life. The stadium probably has at least one place where you can get a scorecard to fill out.
  • If you're in the lower deck along either baseline, pay attention. Foul balls can come screaming into the stands hard enough to fracture your goddamn skull; when one comes within 20 yards of you, it's genuinely nerve-wracking. If you're bringing your young kids to the game, don't even get those seats. They don't have the attention span or the reflexes to be safe, and all it takes is one ball to change their whole life.
  • Don't fight kids for foul balls, or home run balls, or a ball the left fielder tosses into the stands after the third out of the inning. Don't fight adults for these balls either. Don't fight for these balls. They are baseballs. Have some dignity, for chrissakes. If you catch one and there's a kid nearby, hand it over. It'll mean more to the kid than it does to you, or anyway it should, because again: It is a baseball.
  • When a visiting batter has two strikes against him, the home crowd goes nuts, particularly if the pitcher has good stuff and has been striking dudes out, or if it's a key late-game plate appearance. When a home batter has two strikes, the crowd is more subdued.
  • Baseball die-hards will hate this, but leaving early is just fine. Baseball games take forever, there's 162 of them per season, and (apart from the playoffs and games between divisional rivals) they're pretty casual affairs. Most of the time the players themselves treat the average midseason game like a Tuesday night closing shift at a grocery-store cash register. And, that's fine! It's part of baseball's charm. Stay for as long as you're enjoying yourself, and leave when you're not.
  • Arriving late is also fine, but arriving early is even better. Batting practice is great, of course, but just watching the ballplayers toss the ball around and warm up is pretty cool, too. How effortlessly they flick the ball farther than you could drive it in your car! It's a good show, and weirdly relaxing.

At a football game:

  • Don't go to a football game. Football games are terrible in person. They're halting and barren and the action is too far away and the closest seats are the worst. They're also insanely expensive, and the stadiums hold so many people that escaping the parking lot always takes forever. If you insist on going to a football game, I'm not even going to help you try to redeem that stupid decision.

Adequate Man is Deadspin's new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.


Art by Tara Jacoby.

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