Friday, April 4, 2014

6 comments Matt Adams Lightly Shoved a Fan; The Media Shrugs Their Shoulders and Carries On

Despite the fact I'm about to write something brief about Matt Adams lightly shoving a fan, I really don't think it is a very big deal that deserves a lot of attention. I feel like I need to comment though, because I can think of another situation recently where an athlete shoved a fan and it became a very big deal and received a lot of attention. The media essentially ignored that Adams shoved a Reds fan, while Marcus Smart shoving a fan was an important part of the 24 hour news cycle in early February. There are differences in two situations and let me point them out:

1. Smart is an "amateur" athlete who is 19 years old. Matt Adams is a professional athlete who is 25 years old.

2. Smart shoved the fan more violently than Adams shoved the Reds fan.

3. Smart seemed to have been provoked, while the Reds fan seems to have made the mistake of trying to catch a foul ball and this angered Adams. Smart's shove was harder, but unprovoked, while Adams shove was lighter but unprovoked.

4. The media had bunches of hot sports takes on Smart shoving a fan, while it was essentially just noted that Adams pushed a Reds fan without any real outrage on the level of Smart shoving the Texas Tech fan. Maybe Smart should have just shoved the fan more lightly and no one would have cared?

5. Smart apologized, while Adams stated he didn't know he shoved the fan. More on that in a minute. 

6. Smart was suspended 3 games and Adams has not been suspended. These were some of the reactions to Smart shoving the Texas Tech fan.

These are the reactions from Twitter. 

This is Pat Forde discussing Marcus Smart's "downward spiral." Forde compared it to the Malice at the Palace and said something "swift and significant" needed to be done. Forde also said "the most vile of language would not have justified Smart's actions." Smart was supposed to swallow the language and move on like any profes---amateur college athlete is supposed to do.

The was a discussion on how his shove affected Smart's draft stock. Pat Forde also discussed Smart's draft stock in his column about Marcus Smart. Because the most important thing to come out of that incident is Smart's current value as a commodity.

Again, I really don't think the shove by Adams is a huge deal and the media seemed to agree, but I also wasn't up in arms about Smart shoving a Texas Tech fan and every sportswriter had a hot sports take on what they thought should be Smart's punishment. It's interesting to me how essentially Adams shove of a fan is glossed over, seeing as he is a professional athlete, while Smart's shove of a fan was well-covered and reported and he's a 19 year old kid. I hate to say this because it is a strawman argument, but what if Yasiel Puig shoved a fan? Bill Plaschke would jump out of his pants writing a column about how Puig should be immediately deported.

In case someone hasn't seen it, here is Adams shoving the fan. The fan is standing in the stands and it is Adams leaning over into the crowd to catch the ball. He gives him a small shove with his glove and then the fan flips off Adams later. It's really a non-incident, yet I can't help but wonder why this isn't being covered breathlessly by the same sports media that insists college athletes should not be treated as professionals, yet expects a college athlete to act like a professional, but doesn't seem to hold the professionals to that same standard.

Here is the fan's story about the incident. 

Three weeks removed from surgery on his right knee, Chris Smith still had a knee brace and crutches in his seat in section 134 when Chris Heisey's pop-up down first-base line came right toward him.

Armed with his glove, Smith was able to pop up and reach up -- not out over the field, but still within his seating area -- when he felt two pops, first the ball in his glove, and the second the glove of Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams, shoving the Colerain resident. Because he caught the ball without pressure on his right leg, Smith was off-balance and fell backwards into his seat.

The fact Smith was off-balance made the push look a lot worse than it actually was. I don't doubt that. Either way, Adams laid a hand on a fan, even if that hand was covered with a glove.

Leaning over the tarp, Adams was in position to catch the ball, but Smith had his glove above Adams' glove and made the catch. A fan has the right to catch a ball if he doesn't go into the field of play, and replays showed Smith didn't.

Both Smart and Adams went into the fan's domain and neither fan was interfering with what is considered the player's domain.

"He didn't say anything," Smith said. "He just looked at me right in the face and walked away."

Adams was then told he did make contact with Smith.

"I'm not that type of guy to go after anybody," Adams said. "I was just trying to stop from going into the stands and stop from falling in there."

And this is the part where Matt Adams starts telling tiny stories. He didn't know he made contact with the fan? He clearly pushed him with his glove. The fact Adams says he was trying to stop from going into the stands is bullshit if you watch the replay. Adams is lying prone on the field cover and very easily could have backed off the cover without any difficulty, but he chose to push the fan, THEN back off the field cover. I find it incredibly tough to believe he pushed the fan to prevent himself from falling in the stands. In fact, I would consider to be a lie. Not to mention he could have pushed himself back on the field using a much more stable item than a human being, like say the railing that lines the entire field separating the field from the fans in the stands.

Matheny looked puzzled when asked about the incident, but then backed his player, saying he assumed it was Adams trying not to go "tail-over-tea kettle" into the stands.

Which by seeing the video of the incident doesn't sound plausible.

Adams said he thought he'd make the catch if Smith didn't first.

Which would explain his frustration and why he shoved Smith out of frustration.

"I heard the whole section was flipping me off," Adams said, "but I can't let that bother me."

How professional of you. Maybe Marcus Smart should have said he didn't remember shoving the fan and he knew fans were cursing at him as he left the court, but he can't let that bother him. How quickly would he have been painted as a non-caring, out of touch athlete?

Smith said he noticed Adams and the umpire talk, but nobody else -- the umpire or an usher -- had anything to say to him.

Of course not, it was a light shove. Who cares? Well, if Yasiel Puig shoved a fan I imagine the media would care and if Adams shoved the fan harder it would become a bigger deal. Apparently intent doesn't count when it comes to the reaction by the sports media. Shove a fan, just do it lightly. Right?

From what I saw, this was the sum total of the "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" coverage of the incident, other than mentioning MLB was looking into it. It's an article that says, "Adams says he didn't know he shoved Reds fan." It's interesting to me how this shove isn't being covered much on a local or national level. Very interesting.

To say that Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams was in the midst of the action both on and off the field here these last few days would be a conservative assessment. But when you’re 260 or so pounds, everywhere you are is in the middle of something.

He just hustles too hard, that's the problem. And oh yeah, Matt Adams shoved a guy who he probably outweighed by 60 pounds or so. Nothing to see here. Adams is fortunate he wasn't a college student or else he would have been suspended. Intent doesn't matter apparently, it's all about how hard the fan gets shoved.

Adams had five hits in 12 at-bats in the three-game series with Cincinnati, including three doubles, with four of the hits going the opposite way, in his case, to left field.

He made a nifty pickup on a short hop from shortstop Jhonny Peralta after whiffing on a one-hopper Peralta had thrown earlier in the inning. He dropped a routine throw on a double-play ball.

And yes, this entire story about how Adams lightly shoved a fan is framed in the context of his current performance on the field. The only article I could find written by the "Post-Dispatch" mentioning Adams' shove in the title wasn't entirely about the shove. Nothing to see here, move on, unless it's a college athlete in which case he should be suspended! Intent doesn't matter at all.

And, in the third inning Thursday, Adams lunged into the stands to try to catch a pop foul off Chris Heisey’s bat. A fan with a glove made a nifty reception and Adams, off balance in the stands, gave the fan a shove with his gloved hand, according to television replays, although Adams said there was no malice aforethought.

All Marcus Smart had to say was that he didn't have any malice. If only he had known that at the time.

“I was trying to stop,” said Adams. “I hit the tarp and I tried from going into the stands. People came up to me and said I shoved him. I didn’t know I had.

“I’m not that type of guy to go after anybody. I was just trying to keep from going into the stands.”

That makes sense. Adams didn't know he shoved the fan, but he shoved the fan because he was trying not to go into the stands. Unfortunately the video tells a different story. Marcus Smart should have just said he was trying to use the Texas Tech fan to prevent himself from going further into the stands. He just needed some backwards momentum to get off the court, that's all.

Adams, however, did commend the fan for his play.

What a nice guy. Maybe Marcus Smart should have commended the Texas Tech fan for being able to cheer so loudly and everyone would have gotten off his case.

“I was in line for it,” he said. “Then I hit the tarp and I heard it hit his glove. I figured he had caught it because I didn’t feel it coming into mine.”

So Adams knew the fan was there, didn't know he shoved him, but knew he was using the fan's body to repel himself back on the field. It sounds completely believable.

After Adams had made contact with the fan, the fan flipped him off. “I heard the whole section was flipping me off,” said Adams, laughing. “But I can’t let that bother me.”

And of course Adams had no idea why the fans in that section were flipping him off, right? So he must have been confused. After all, he didn't know he shoved the fan, so he wouldn't have had an idea why that section was flipping him off as a result. Right, that's his story?

Like a defensive shift, for instance.

And back to baseball.

So what happened here is a professional baseball player lightly shoved a fan who did not provoke this baseball player, the baseball player is lying about not knowing he shoved the fan, and it's all used as an anecdote to discuss this baseball player's recent play. An amateur basketball player shoved a fan who provoked this athlete, the athlete apologized, and what resulted was criticism the suspension wasn't enough and was used as an anecdote to predict this amateur basketball player would fall in the NBA Draft. Hmm...there is a difference in these two situations, but the media's reaction (or non-reaction) still surprises me. Seems an amateur athlete is being held to a higher standard than a professional athlete.


franc said...

the outrage over smart was completely ridiculous. these sort of things happen all the time in eurobasket; nobody gives it much thought unless there is actual violence. it seems even college teams have old, racist billionaire donors to worry about. maybe i'm looking at this the wrong way.

Bengoodfella said...

Franc, I tried to stay away from the race angle a little bit on this, but I don' know if it didn't play a small part. Obviously Smart should have been ejected from the game, but the outrage there compared to the outrage (or lack of one) about Adams shoving a fan is silly to me. One is a pro, another is an amateur. The amateur is held to a higher standard.

Eric C said...

I think the one reason Adams got a pass (aside from the possible race issue) was that he was trying to make a play on the ball. It's not like he went into the stands to shove the guy.

I wonder if, had Smart been trying to save a loose ball and pushed a fan who was out of his seat trying to catch the ball, there would have been outrage.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, that's an interesting point. I can't answer that obviously. I would guess, and it's just a guess, that if Smart saved a ball in the stands (and the only reason he was in the stands is due to that's where he ended up in the course of playing the game...) then pushed the fan from Texas Tech nothing would have changed. Just a guess.

Smart didn't charge into the stands to push the fan, he was already up there, so I don't know if that would have changed the reaction or not. It's still a good point though.

Anonymous said...

Light shove or as a professional athlete should never go into the stands....ever

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, does anyone remember Adams shoved the fan? I forgot. When Smart was drafted the shove was of course mentioned. I think it's worse for a professional athlete to shove a fan, but obviously an "amateur" athlete shouldn't do it either.