Wednesday, June 9, 2004 Updated: June 10, 12:15 PM ET
Somebody's watching me
By Jim Caple Page 2
EDITOR'S NOTE: You never know who you'll see when you're having fun at the ol' ballpark. And more to the point, you never know who'll see you. (The cameras are everywhere these days.) Check out the crowd -- carefully -- at Kurt Snibbe's stadium and see if you spot any surprising faces in the crowd. And then read Jim Caple's 'Off Base,' including Jim's new rules of ballpark etiquette -- guidelines to ensure that none of us get caught with our pants down the next time we're singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Stop worrying about Big Brother watching you. There are already so many cameras focused on you at ballgames that John Ashcroft knows whether or not your replica jersey is officially licensed.
A defense lawyer recently proved his client is innocent of murder, thanks to videotape from footage shot at Dodger Stadium for an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm.'' In the episode, Larry David hires a prostitute to sit in his car so he can drive to the ballpark in the carpool lane. When the lawyer reviewed the tapes, he found a shot of David walking past the suspect during the Dodgers game, which confirmed the suspect's alibi that he was at the game at the time of the killing.
The lawyer looked at the "Curb Your Enthusiasm'' tapes after he failed to find his client in other tapes from the Dodger Stadium crew.
"It did seem like kind of a lame story, but I told the lawyer, 'Go ahead, go crazy. Look at anything you want'," David told the New Yorker. "I'm there for maybe five minutes, and the lawyer screams out, 'There he is!' We couldn't believe it. We re-wound the tape, and just as I'm walking up the aisle in one shot, this guy is sitting right there. And then there was another shot where he was standing up."
Naturally, the cameras can work against you as well. Cincinnati police arrested a man on a parole violation last May when he was shown kissing a woman on the stadium Kiss-Cam during a Reds game.
What are the odds of either person being caught on camera? What are the chances that you go to a game with 40,000 other fans and the cameras single you out? What are the chances the boss is going to know you weren't really sick when he sees you snagging a foul ball on that night's highlight roll?
Apparently, so high that you should never risk picking your nose while rooting for your team.
Andy Warhol underestimated. In the video age, we'll all be famous longer than the credits to "Lord of the Rings."
At any given game, there can be as many as four crews broadcasting the action (the local crews for both teams, ESPN and a Japanese network) plus the extensive stadium cameras searching for a large-busted blonde not wearing a bra. With so many cameras, it's a miracle that more fans aren't busted.
Foul ball back into the stands -- and a nice grab by a fan. Give that guy a contract ... Say, isn't that Osama bin Laden?
In fact, with so many cameras ready to make us unwilling stars in our own reality show, what we really need is a new etiquette for stadium behavior:
1. If you are a fugitive from the law, do not sit behind home plate, wave your arm and use a cellphone to call a friend and tell him you're on TV. In fact, don't do this even if the police aren't looking for you. Doing so makes you a bigger dork than calling someone on the $5-per-minute plane phones and asking, "Can you guess where I'm calling from?''
2. If you're trying to get on TV by holding up a sign with the broadcaster's name, make sure you know who is televising the game. There's nothing more pathetic than someone with a "Can't Beat Syracuse'' sign at a game carried by ESPN.
3. Do not dance unless you can. No matter how many beers you've had.
4. Baring your belly is rarely attractive. Especially after six king beers.
5. Same goes for streaking.
6. Under no circumstances should you propose marriage on the stadium video board. This is just asking for trouble. For every person who reacts with tears of joy, there is a fan who looks like Eli Manning right after the Chargers drafted him.
7. Before painting your face in team colors, ask yourself whether it's really worth it.
8. Keep the Bible verses simple. "John 3:14'' is quick and easy to read. "Second Maccacees 15:17-34'' is just difficult to read when viewers are already so busy watching the cheerleaders shake their cans. (Speaking of which, is a TV cameraman ever going to be prosecuted for violating an up-skirt law?)
9. The Kiss-Cam needs to be eliminated. How do the people in the video booth know your relationship with the fan next to you? Maybe the woman only agreed to a sympathy date, and the thought of a kiss turns her stomach. Maybe you're brother and sister, which means the crowd will be chanting for you to commit incest. The best way to combat this annoying gimmick is for a lot of people to ruin the shot by doing something lewd when they're on camera. I suggest heavy petting.
10. And, of course, if you're having sex in the SkyDome hotel, always close the curtains. (Unless she's hot.)
BOX SCORE LINE OF THE WEEK
Milwaukee's Ben Sheets threw nine scoreless innings and allowed one hit on Tuesday, and had nothing to show for it. Geoff Jenkins went 0-for-7 with six strikeouts. And the Angels and Brewers played 16 scoreless innings before Milwaukee won 1-0 in the 17th inning.
Great performances all; but the award still goes to Vladmir Guerrero for his effort in a game late last week: four hits, two home runs and nine RBIs. He had two hits and five RBIs off Pedro Martinez alone. Vlad's line:
4 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 9 RBIs
LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS
When Seattle rookie Clint Nageotte started Monday night, it marked the first time since the 2002 season that someone other than Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Ryan Franklin, Joe Piniero or Gil Meche started a game for the Mariners. Nageotte took the spot of Meche, who was sent down last week after throwing 72 pitches in a two-inning start.
"It's planes, trains and automobiles. Only there are no trains or automobiles involved. They all flew in.''
-- Ken Griffey Jr. on how his family is following him around as he approaches his 500th home runJim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com