Jun
07

Open Thread: Athletes and the public

By

This video might be old news to you, but just in case (some profane language, in case you don’t want the young’uns listening):

So a fan approaches Alex Rios and asks for his autograph. Rios, upset by his five-strikeout day, ignores the kid. Not kind, but it’s not like Rios is at the ballpark. He’s out with his wife/girlfriend after a charity event. If I’m Rios, I probably just want to get home and out of public.

That doesn’t excuse the way he acted. It would have made him a nice guy, for sure, to sign the kid’s autograph, but he’s not obligated. Then some other fan jumped on him for it, and Rios cracked. That’s where this episode went awry. Rios later apologized, saying that he “shouldn’t act like that, even if there’s sites like that or people following you, trying to make you say bad things.”

Clearly, Rios wasn’t right to act the way he did. But what about the fan who heckled him? Just like we can say that it’s understandable Rios got angry with the heckler but shouldn’t have acted the way he did, can’t we say that it’s understandable the heckler was frustrated with Rios’s performance and his treatment of the kid but also shouldn’t have acted that way?

It’s always been my view that public profile or not, these are fellow human beings and we should just leave them alone. I realize not everyone shares this. So where do you fall on the issues of athletes and the public?

In case you don’t care about this topic, it’s the open thread for the evening. Feel free to discuss this or the game — though we’ll have the recap later tonight.

Win something! As of right now, our Twitter feed is at 593 subscribers. For some reason, we want to get it to 600 before the end of the evening. So we’re going to give out a free copy of Jane Heller’s Confessions of a She-Fan, which Ben reviewed here, to number 600. In other words, the seventh person to follow us starting…now.

Categories : Open Thread

89 Comments»

  1. crawdaddy says:

    I have no comment except we’re all human and sometimes we make mistakes in how we deal with certain situations.

  2. JackISBACK says:

    Why would anyone want an Alex Rios autograph anyway? Mr. Over-rated. Other than killing the Yankees, he hasn’t lived upto his potential at all. I remember BlueJays fans upset about a trade rumor of Rios for Cain. Yeah, good luck trying to get the Giants to do that one now.

    On topic, I think things get blown out of proportion with celebrities. But it obviously sheds a negative light on him. We don’t know how much stress they are under or not. But signing one for the kid shouldn’t have been that difficult.

  3. Garry D says:

    My personal opinion, if you blow off a single kid looking for an autograph, you’re pretty much a loser in my book. Bad day or not, it literally takes 4 seconds to sign an autograph for a child.

    I could understand if there were a lot of people, or this was an adult or something. Kids are a different story.

    The primary reason I think Rios is a jerk is because he wasn’t even sorry he blew off the kid. He only felt sorry for blowing up after being instigated. I have no sympathy for him.

    • Joey says:

      You get played to play a sport you (should) love, and not just get paid, but get paid millions to do so. Signing an autograph or 100 should not be that big of a deal. I can understand he was in a shitty mood, but the reaction was a bit much for me

      • whozat says:

        Signing an autograph or 100…every time that you go out in public? Or only when you go out in public when someone has a camera and The Internet will get all pissed about it when they see you get cranky on youtube? Where’s the line?

        • Joey says:

          I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think it should be a problem to take time to sign autographs for kids. I have no idea where the line is, and no I’m not suggesting he’s an asshole, we’ve all had days like that. But as a professional sports player I think he has million reasons to sign an autograph and be grateful that’s part of what he does for a living, kids look up to him

          • Mike Pop says:

            But, the problem is. He could be there, literally ALL NIGHT signing lol.

            If he signs 10 and then stops, he might still be looked at as an asshole. These players have lives outside of baseball, they need sometime to themselves and away from the game.

            It is easy for me to say, “if i made 3 million a year, i’d sign autographs all day”, right up until the point that I am signing autographs all day.

            I’d be a dick too.

          • whozat says:

            “I don’t think it should be a problem to take time to sign autographs for kids”

            That’s because you ignored the crux of my point.

            It’s never just a few autographs for kids. If he stops right there to sign an autograph, he gets mobbed. So every time there’s a little kid anywhere he goes that asks, he should be willing to get mobbed for 20 minutes? It’s real easy to moralize about what someone else should do when you don’t think your way through the consequences.

            • Joey says:

              If that’s the problem how come you don’t see every other professional athlete get labeled with the asshole label? Sure there are a few, but after the 2nd, 10th, or whatever autograph there is a nice way to duck out like most athletes do. People a little disappointed? Sure, but they don’t hate them for it.

              • whozat says:

                He’s getting labeled as an asshole because he overreacted to the heckler. I don’t care about that. It’s not interesting.

                I’m talking about the point of view that you and the heckler share, that somehow he owes the public because he dared to take the contract to play major league baseball.

  4. YankeeFan says:

    It’s funny since if you look at his projections this year to his career seasonal averages, besides runs scored, he’s on pace to do what he usually does granted his batting average is a lower than his career but not by much.

    IMO it’s a shame that Rios is going to get all the bad publicity for it. My honest opinion if you want to get on him for anything it’s for not signing the baseball. I would have done the same thing if someone made fun of me and is criticizing my livelihood. People forget, baseball is their job. Sure they make a ton of money for what they do but that’s their career. How would the guy like it if someone heckled him at work for doing something wrong.

  5. UWS says:

    Gahhh italics attack!

  6. Tom Zig says:

    I keep seeing that Roger Clemens book advertisement on here…anyone ever read it?

    I have to take a plane ride this weekend to atlanta from NY…any good baseball books someone want to recommend?

  7. Mike HC says:

    That was basically nothing. There was a pretty big crowd around him and he didn’t want to start to have to sign shit for everyone. He was trying to get home and then some random guy stars yelling at him. I mean, Rios was minding his own business. I feel bad for these celebrities, especially athletes. Living that kind of lifestyle would be awful to me.

    • whozat says:

      THIS. So much THIS.

      It’s funny how people are calling it “refusing to sign a ball for ONE kid.” It’s NEVER that, unless you’re literally in a room alone with the kid and her folks. You stop to sign for one kid, and half the people standing around are going to start asking.

      Just because a person is famous doesn’t mean that all of us are entitled to access to him at any time that he’s out in public.

      If this was at the ballpark, people would maybe have a complaint.

      • Count Zero says:

        I agree.

        Few years back I was at a business dinner at an expensive restaurant in Greenwich, CT. Lo and behold, at the table behind me is none other than the great Mo having dinner with the wife.

        When they got up to leave, these two guys at the table next to him interrupted him to ask for an autograph. Personally, I found it tasteless and rude — downright gauche. It’s not Burger King. The guy is trying to have a nice dinner in a top restaurant with his wife — can you give him a break? Does it occur to you that his wife probably gets tired of it too? You just had a romantic dinner and you’re all set to head home, open a bottle of wine, throw some romantic music on…and some complete stranger needs to interrupt you and your privacy for an autograph?

        If it’s at the park, a fundraiser, a ceremony or whatever — fine — he’s kind of obligated. But no one has a responsibility to be “on duty” 24/7/365 — I don’t care how much money they make.

    • Joey says:

      I’ll repeat what I said above because it fits well here. He gets paid millions of dollars to play a sport he loves, he knew the fame and celebrity that would come with it. He shouldn’t have any problem signing a bunch of autographs bad day or not. For good or bad kids look up to him and he goes and acts like that

  8. Jamie says:

    Like any other profession, and people in general, some people are just assholes. Plain and simple.

  9. I find it amusing that 1 incident is enough to label someone an asshole.

  10. Jake H says:

    It wasn’t the way he should have handled it but also sometimes these guys want to have a moment to breath when they are out.

  11. Mike Pop says:

    The fan was a total dick, but Rios shouldn’t of responded with “who gives a fuck” that many times. I could understand he’s frustrated but I’m not going to hate on him for that. That fan who heckled him is the same fan cheering for him when he hits a walk off to win or has a great game, makes a great catch, etc.

    Players have bad days, it happens. Some fans can’t handle that concept though which is ridiculous.

  12. By the way…people have been un-following us and then following us again for the Twitter contest, so we don’t have a winner yet. Too bad for those people, because they have no chance of winning now.

  13. Babe's Ghost says:

    When I look at the kind of economic desperation people are facing out there I’m not really surprised to see people working out their frustrations on millionaire celebrities.

    I see the paparazzi as extensions of the public’s love-hate relationship with celebrities and the invasion of privacy as part of the ‘price’ of making your living from having people look at you.

    Athletes are beginning to get the same treatment. I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about whether it’s fair to invade an athlete’s privacy unless you want to also talk about whether it’s fair for an athlete to earn 100 to 1,000 times more than the average fan.

    From where I’m sitting, the system is what it is. Baseball players don’t make their money from their athletic ability, they make their money because we the public want to watch them perform. They can handle the attention by saying FU a la Barry Bonds or they can stage manage it like Derek Jeter, but once they attain a certain level of success then the media becomes a fact of life.

    In other words, Rios should have signed for the kid, maybe one or two other people then smiled, waved and gotten in his car. How he felt is beside the point. If he didn’t feel like performing for the public he should have stayed home. If he wants to be anonymous in public he should go to Paris or Buenos Aires.

    • Joey says:

      That’s summed up perfectly, thanks

    • whozat says:

      This is the most ridiculous entitled nonsense I’ve ever read.

    • Mike HC says:

      I never understood why being a professional athlete forced that person to all of a sudden become perfect human beings. They are flawed like anyone else and you can’t pay someone enough money to change that. They don’t appreciate being heckled after they come out of a restaurant with their girlfriend/wife. How is that not understandable?

  14. I’ve been following RAB for ages. Where’s my prize?

    Also, I was at the game today and people actually left after joba gave up that bases loaded single.

    i guess said people haven’t watched the team much this season.

  15. LiveFromNewYork says:

    I think that if you are the ballpark or even a sports-related event, autographs are fine but if you’re out with your family I think you should be left alone. That’s just my opinion. There’s always “one more” wherever you go and some limits need to be drawn. Sometimes you just need to be off-duty even in public.

  16. Drew says:

    Wow, Rios is an asshole. He’s got a little kid walking next to him and he wouldn’t even look at him. I understand being in a rush and not having time to sign a bunch of autographs, but, there is ONE kid. His name is Alex Rios, 8 letters, he could probably sign it in 5 seconds, a simple “A. Rios #15″ and that kid would probably save that thing for the rest of his life. I’m 23, I still have an autograph by Charles Barkley that I got in Disney World while in a restaurant about 13 years ago. If that was my kid getting the cold shoulder, I’d call him a bum as well.

  17. Chris A says:

    Three wrongs don’t make a right. Rios should’ve given that kid an autograph, I mean he was probably waiting there forever just to get his autograph and if he did he would have gone home as the happiest kid in the world. Then what that fan said was riddiculously stupid, then the way Rios handled it was even worse. That kid who wanted the autograph had to have been watching that, and now he gets to go home and tell everyone that instead of getting Rios’ autograph, he got to hear him curse repetively. Just a wonderful story isn’t it.

  18. MattG says:

    That’d be me. I don’t think any amount of money would make me anything other than the miserably anti-social SOB I am. If money does change people, it sure in hell doesn’t make them nicer. Haven’t we all had enough experience to know that’s the truth?

    • Drew says:

      I’ve actually had some good luck with celebs and athletes I guess. I mean, I make out better then this poor kid, Rios wouldn’t even acknowledge that a kid was walking next to him.

  19. Greg P says:

    I woder what the masses would label each and every one of us if there were cameras and video ready to capture every failing or shortcoming we exibit during the course of our day-to-day lives. We would all look like assholes. They are paid to play a game. Pre/post game signings, team outings, etc are fine for autographs (I think). Other than that, let them live their lives. Personally, I could care less about autographs, memorabila, and the like. I feel there’s a deeper problem here, and that’s the pedastal we put celebrities on to begin with. Ok, so Rios is exceptional at playing baseball. Ang Lee is great at directing movies. My cousin is superb in auto mechanics. if you don’t think that is a skill/art to perform at a very high level, you haven’t tried it enough. Chances are good that most everybody has a splinter skill or two. Rios is no more a god towering above you than my cousin the mechanic is. They both do something really well. As fate would have it, only one of them possess a skill that pays millions. And guess what…if you followed my cousin out of a restaurant with a camera, you’d probably find him to be an asshole too. But, if you need to repair your car, he’s the guy to talk to. They’re both humans with a particular skill. Put them (or us) under a microscope and you’ll see plenty of cracks and flaws. Don’t put the players under a microscope, but don’t put them on a pedastal either. Well…except maybe Mo. Sorry for the long rant, but don’t we all have better things to do than idol worship?

  20. cuponoodles says:

    In related news, Farnsworth has been pitching very well for the Royals as of late…

  21. Pete Abraham says:

    There’s no excuse for cursing anybody out in public. But I’ve been told that the guy who says “you’re a bum” to Rios is a notorious autograph hound in Toronto who dogs the players incessantly and then sells what he gets.

    The Yankees have had issues with that guy, too. Some people are borderline stalkers, chasing players into restaurants, etc. I can’t say whether Rios had any good reason to act like he did, but there are times when fans cross the line.

    • Drew says:

      Yes, but it’s the kid who loses out. The “hound” couldn’t care less what happens. There is no reason to blatantly ignore a kid.

      • Greg P says:

        Is it within the realm of possibilities the kid was working with the auto hound? I know that they often use kids as their “in”.

      • V says:

        Maybe the kid is WITH the “hound”?

        • Drew says:

          This is diabolical! lol I dunno, by the looks of the video, alls I see a kid walking next to Rios. Either way, Alex should have said, sorry kid, or, at least look at the little dude!

  22. kunaldo says:

    wow, it’s really cool that riverave is linked on yesnetwork.com on the homepage under today’s postgame plus

  23. Ridering says:

    Signing autographs is like eating potato chips. You can’t stop at just one.

    Seriously, I don’t think less of any athlete who refuses to sign autographs/etc. when interrupted in their daily life. If they’re not *officially* representing their team/organization it’s up to their discretion on whether or not to acknowledge the fans. An autograph can turn into a picture and that can turn into a crowd. If someone’s having a night out with family or shopping or stopping at a Starbucks they shouldn’t have to bend over backwards because they were spotted.

    OTOH, I do think less of an athlete who acts out like Rios is shown doing in the video. But I think even less of the heckler, whose unwarranted verbal attacked on Rios reflects even more poorly on random people on the street. And as a an individual who is often a random person on the street, I am offended!

    • Drew says:

      Bend over backwards!? Look at the video! He could have said, “sorry kid, I’m in a rush.” The kid would’ve been happy just to have had a mini convo with a ball player.

      • Riddering says:

        I was speaking in generalizations with the phrase “bend over backwards” but you’re right–it is an exaggeration.

        However, his actions before being called out still don’t bug me. My opinion of any athlete would remain the same from seeing them politely ignore a fan in that situation, no matter the age. That would be the metaphorical walk to their batting average. Stopping and giving time a fan is an RBI, icing on the cake, etc. ;)

        But clearly you feel differently and that’s fine.

    • VO says:

      Let’s flip the situation a bit now. You decide you want to go grab something from McDonalds right now so you leave, you get your food, and while your walking out a kid comes up to you and asks you for your autograph what would you do?

      • Riddering says:

        The first time? I’d be very, very honored and I’d sign anything the kid wanted.

        After however many years of the same thing just about every time I’m in public…not so much.

        • VO says:

          Exactly, YOU SHOULD BE HONORED. For someone to know your name or to want to hear 2 words for you is an honor and you should at least just tell the kid sorry, I’m kind of busy. Trust me all he wants is to hear 2 words from the dude and he would be frozen in his spot from excitement. See my post below, it really is true they don’t necessarily need a signed ball to be happy/

  24. Joba-to-the-pen says:

    Everybody is human but five strikeouts isn’t a bad day.I could understand you are leaving a ballpark mad.But not a gala for charity.No matter what the heckler would be at fault if Alex Rios signed the autograph and wanted to bother Alex Rios.

    What ever happened to being nice.When you make $10 million and you are the face of a francise you have to act differant in the public view.He didn’t even acknowledge the boy.

  25. VO says:

    I think when it comes down to it, when your a celebrity thats what you should expect. Just like they expect to see their faces in the paper, they should expect to have kids asking for autographs. I mean if you can only sign one I don’t have a problem with that, but if you just totally ignore the kid like he’s not alive thats wrong. All you have to do is say I’m sorry kid not right now, or something along those lines.

    • VO says:

      Also on a side note, a kid doesn’t need that much from a ball player to get happy. I went to a game once, I saw Dave Eiland he said a few words to me and I was ECASTIC, I was in shock when Johnny Damon pointed to me, same when Jose Molina was kind enough to say “thanks man” after I wished him luck, and Mariano was even great enough to promise to sign a ball for me (which he never did). Bottom line even if you don’t sign a ball for him, just give him a quick word or two.

  26. dkidd says:

    anyone watching this crazy padres game?

  27. dkidd says:

    padres score 5 in the bottom of the 9th, now it’s bottom of the 18th inning, back-up shortstop just pitched for the padres, arizona bullpen has pitched 8 hitless innings

  28. dkidd says:

    mlb package. just ended. arizona bullpen pitches a no-hitter

  29. Drew says:

    Anyone else take on the Dodgers as your NL team? I’m rooting for Joe big time.

  30. GG says:

    So how much time does it take to sign an autograph for a kid anyway?

  31. Drew says:

    Fuckin Kobe Bean being blocked by Turkoglu? Is hell frozen over?

  32. DocBooch says:

    So, the guy makes multi-millions a year and is treated like royalty for hitting a baseball and this guy wants to call him a bum? Rios should see the bigger picture here. He might be feeling like crap because he had a bad day, but the fact of the matter is that he amounted to more in his life than that guy could only dream of.

    It makes me wonder why he even acknowledged him. It just re-iterates the fact that he is no different than any other human on this planet.

    The real bum is the fan.

    • Drew says:

      I strongly disagree. First of all you’re disparaging a fan that you know nothing about. Secondly, the fan witnessed said ballplayer ignore a child, if that was my son that Rios blatantly ignored I would have said something worse than, “you should be lucky he wants the autograph after your day today.”

  33. Mike Plugh says:

    This thread may be over…I’m just seeing it…but I don’t have a single problem with Rios on any front. He has every right to not sign an autograph. It may not be the coolest move in the world to deny a kid an autograph, but that’s his business. Where fans think they are entitled to a player’s signature just because they ask for it, I don’t get.

    When the guy starts heckling him, he’s lucky he didn’t get sent to the hospital. He knows everyone is watching and that the famous athlete can’t afford to get into more hot water. He has a built in bravado-enabler. Get a broken nose, cash in for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Get two broken arms, player is plastered all over ESPN, Gawker, Deadspin, and the entire blogosphere as a dick. If someone on the street started shouting crap at me, they’d be in for a more serious confrontation than Rios can afford to have.

    Millions of dollars and the rest are the perks of his work. He has ability that we don’t. That enables him to live the American dream. It doesn’t automatically give fans the right to be abusive or demanding of him whenever and wherever he find himself. How does that equate?

  34. RustyJohn says:

    So in short, some people think Alex Rios is a douche for ignoring the kid, other people think it is okay to ignore the kid, the heckler is a douche, and there is a divergence of opinion on when and where someone can ask for an autograph.

    Phewwww…I’m glad that is settled…

    Always wondered why, if players didn’t like getting bothered for autographs they didn’t: 1) take a couple of days during the off-season and sign thousands of balls (baseballs, that is) and cards, then hire some publicist to sell them on eBay for a “buy it now” price of 99 cents plus shipping to drive down the value or; 2) have a stack of presigned cards in your pocket and just hand them out to autograph seekers.

    • Blue Jays Daze says:

      The card idea isn’t a bad one, but in a setting such as the one seen with Rios I can say automatically why he wouldn’t have been able to take one single card out and hand it to a fan. When players start giving stuff out, they get mobbed. So here are 2 reasons for his actions 1) you expected him to leave his hot wife in the card while he hands out cards and signs autographs….not very “gentlemanly”, especially when he doesn’t know how long it’ll take if he gets mobbed once he starts signing them. Even if she is supposed to understand that he could be in demand, it is still not a curteous thing to do 2) as stated in posts above, there’s a time and a place to sign autographs and plenty of other opportunities to get them. If a kid’s dad is truly interested in ensuring his kid gets Alex Rios’s autograph, there are autograph signing sessions at numerous times in the season, including 5 locations in Toronto where players regularly attend signing sessions. That’s where you can hassel him all you want. If he snaps then, he’s a nob.

      How Rios reacted was not ideal, but the fact taht he wore his heart on his sleeve after a frustrting loss is encouraging. He’s been on fire at the plate ever since, and it may be the beginning of Alex playing to his potential……finally, we hope. lol.

  35. Jim Johnson says:

    I have no problem with how he acted. Regardless of being famous or making millions of dollars, when you’re outside of the stadium, you don’t need to put up with hecklers. If he doesn’t want to sign an autograph when he’s outside of the stadium, fine, whatever. That’s understandable. But the guy who heckled him is a prick.

  36. Matt H says:

    I’m not an autograph hound, but the general rule has to be as follows:

    If he’s out with is family or eating dinner he’s untouchable.

  37. RobC says:

    His public use of the F bomb is unexcusable no matter what.
    Have some decent manners just ignore the heckler.

    As for the kid maybe he did say something to him but at least make eye conatct.

    I was just at an airshow where a WWII triple ace finished his talk and had to catch a flight home. A kid asked for his autograph but he politly explained he did not have time as he had to get a flight home. If he had signed that one an instant line would have formed.
    Still he made eye conatct and smiled so the kid was happy

  38. Alex says:

    We should all feel sorry for multi-million dollar athletes (and other celebrities) who expect privacy in public. Not like they made their millions based on fans’ support or anything.

  39. godfather says:

    time for change…….take andy pedestrian and wrong wang into new roles as, let’s say, second starters; they would each be used early in long roles when my five can’t hack it early; so i go cc, ajb, hughes, joba and, yes…aceves; the guy has the knack and would hold his own…mo, bruney, coke and prayer could fill in…the way this roster is generally assembled makes it seem that the rays and sawx have squads with five more players apiece

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