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BP Out in Left Field

Can We Talk?

Everyone has a hobby of some sort, right? Some people collect things (stamps, action figures, sports cards, bells, little spoons, shot glasses, cars, etc.), and some people's hobbies involve an activity of some sort (gardening, running, working out, walking, or some other physical activity). Shoot, some collectors, like car enthusiasts, can spend tens of thousands of dollars on their "hobby". Why is it that if someone chooses to get to the ballpark early and fight the crowd and/or heat or cold to have the chance to get their hands on at least one baseball, is that considered a sickness or stupidity and that anyone who does this needs to "get a life"?

Seriously, I would like to know. How does snagging not qualify as a hobby? Sure the argument could be made that the means by which some ballhawks come by some of their balls could be a little questionable, but that doesn't change the fact that it's their hobby. I know for a fact that some car enthusiasts (my step dad for instance) aren't always treated fairly when buying or selling a car, antique or not. Yet people keep right on doing it knowing full well what could happen to them at any given time.

The same goes for ballhawks.

We keep right on snagging because that's what we love to do. That's our passion/obsession/desire. We know what the ramifications are. We know what the rules are, written or unwritten, and if any one of us chooses to bend or break any of those rules we have to face the music while the rest of us have to deal with being collateral damage.

That's just part of it.

Our hobby can't be compared to a team sport since we all compete as individuals, so the closest sport I can think of to compare it to would be golf. Individuals competing against each other to reach a certain goal all governed by the same body and held to the same standards. If one golfer chooses to stray into a "gray area" or decides to break a rule altogether, he has to answer for it, while the rest of the golfers are left to answer questions and give their opinions on the matter. All the while the entire sport, or league, or however you may want to define it, has to endure a black eye.

Tell me how this doesn't apply to us? That's exactly like ballhawking, or snagging, or whatever your word of choice is. To be honest, I'm not real fond of the "hawk" attachment to our hobby. If you try and look at it as an outsider, the literal term "hawk" brings to mind a bird of prey. In fact, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hawk as, "one who takes a militant attitude and advocates immediate vigorous action; a supporter of a war or warlike policy". Doesn't leave a real warm and fuzzy feeling inside does it? But that's another subject we can discuss at a later date. My original point being that we all share in the glory or defeat of everyone's snagging experiences.

If someone at the ballpark happened to read an article, or see/hear an interview, or see a television clip of a ballhawk, they are more than likely going to think of that when they see you using your retrieving device, or asking for a ball in a foreign language, or changing into another teams' gear. Whether your intentions are good or completely selfish, people are watching, and they're basing they're entire outlook of snagging in general on what they see you do. Just as many golf "fans" based their opinions on golf in general on what they found out that Tiger Woods did. And his misfortunes had nothing to do with the game of golf.

I know I have touched on more than one topic here, but as I was writing this I had numerous thoughts come to mind and I wanted to lay them out on the table and see what everyone else has to say about them (if you're even reading this!).

I'm not trying to come off as someone that claims to be spotless believe me I'm not. I just want us all to realize that our actions affect more than just ourselves. They affect other ballhawks, other fans, our families, friends, everyone. Just remember that the next time you put on your glove in the outfield during batting practice.

People are watching. What are you going to let them see?

Brian Powell is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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