Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Take me out to the Big House

Mills of the gods

American sports continues to take itself way to seriously. A teenager in New York named Ryan Leli buttoned up his plea bargain today with the New York district attorneys office. The plea bargain will keep him from standing trial and possibly receiving a seven year sentence for trying to meet his idol, Mike Piazza.

Leli, like many boys, loves baseball. According to his mother he has attended baseball camps every year since he was five. But what he really wanted to do was meet his idol, Mike Piazza. It was not so long ago that that would have been pretty easy. As a boy, I would call ball players at their hotels when they were in Houston for games and chat with them. I even called the Houston clubhouse a couple of times to talk to Houston players.I'm sure that it irritated some of the players, but they certainly never let on to me that it did.

Now that players derive income by signing their names to things, they no longer want to meet the public, in part from fear that someone might ask them for an autograph that they would have to give away. Even in Florida and Arizona now,during spring training, the teams have set up security measures to guarantee that kids don't get too close to their heroes.

Well enterprizing Mr Leli found away around the problem. He forged a press card and passed himself off as a newspaper reporter so he could get into the clubhouse and meet Piazza. It worked too. The only reason Leli is now a convict is because he got greedy. He tried to do it twice and someone figured out that this kid probably was not really a reporter. So the Mets called the authorities, and young Leli was looking at seven years hard time.

Hard time for what, you ask ? I thought maybe impersonationg a reporter is a felony under New York law. Maybe criminal tresspass is considered particulary henious there. But it is shocking that the Mets and the D.A. would take things so seriously. The last time I checked there was still a good deal of crime going on in New York that would seem to be a bit more dangerous than a kid trying to get an autograph. I knew that the crime was not theft of service, because Leli bought trickets for both games. Well it turns out that the crime was "criminal impersonation" which I guess means that pulling a prank phone call in New York gets you thrown in the slammer. "This is Mr Smith, do you have Price Albert in a can?"
That's good for seven years if they catch you. The world just does not have a sense of humor anymore. At least Leli won't go to jail. He worked out a deal that bans him from Met games (including minor league games and Spring Trianing ,for three years). He says he will have to become a Yankee fan.Now I don't want to get too nasty about this, but, after all, this is the same police department that was in charge of protecting the World Trade Center. Maybe their priorities are just a tad screwed up.


Post a Comment

<< Home