(photo by Greg Fiume)
How would you like to hear about the time I legitimately thought my buddy was going to come to blows with a member of the San Francisco Giants at a hockey game? Is that something you’d be interested in hearing about?
Yeah, needless to say my Game 2 experience was probably a little bit different than any other blogger’s.
Let me preface what I’m about to say by openly admitting I have a unique relationship with the Tampa Bay sports scene.
This dates back to Jan. 7, 2006, when I decided to take my wife to the Washington Redskins’ first playoff game of Joe Gibbs 2.0 – a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On that day, I opted to rock my Sean Taylor jersey for the special occasion (which becomes noteworthy in a moment).
The Redskins got off to a fast start that day thanks to an interception by linebacker-turned-radio host LaVar Arrington that set up a six-yard touchdown by running back Clinton Portis and a 51-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Taylor.
The Redskins, back in the postseason for the first time since 1999, were up 14-0 before the first quarter even ended and life couldn’t have been better.
At this point, I decided to have a little fun with the locals by turning around and playfully asking “Do you mind if we fire off your cannons, since you’re not using them?”
Now, if you’re not familiar with Raymond James Stadium, it’s the only venue around that has a pirate ship built into the stadium. And yes, that pirate ship has cannons that the Bucs fire off whenever they put points on the board.
So you can imagine how thrilled the locals were with my smart-ass comment. And when Taylor was ejected a little bit later in the game for spitting in the face of Buccaneers running back Michael Pittman … well … it’s safe to say the Bucs fans let me hear about it.
By the time the game ended and the Redskins had emerged victorious 17-10, the crowd had gotten hostile – with more than a few Bucs fans basically looking for me to give them a reason to start something.
For once, I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut as we got the hell out of there and enjoyed the victory with fellow ‘Skins fans, but there were definitely a few moments there when I thought I may end up taking a sucker punch from a pissed off Tampa fan for drawing attention to myself earlier in the evening.
Fast forward to Sunday night, when the Washington Capitals hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Verizon Center in Game 2 of their second-round series.
This time around, I was a model citizen as I watched the game with my wife and a few friends in a luxury suite. The same could not be said for San Francisco Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff.
After losing 5-2 to the Nationals earlier in the day, Huff and 15 or so of his teammates took in the Caps-Bolts game in the suite next to the one we were occupying.
Well, midway through the first period one of my buddies – who we’ll refer to as “Juneau” for this story since that’s one of his favorite players of all time – was unhappy with the lackadaisical attitude and sloppy play a few Caps players were displaying in their defensive zone.
And in the heat of the moment, he shared his thoughts by yelling a few choice words at guys like Mike Green and Jeff Schultz.
This caught the attention of Giants outfielder Pat Burrell, who made his way over to the edge of their suite and said to Juneau, “They can’t hear you.”
Much like my comment back in ’06, Burrell was a playful jab directed at the locals. Once he said the line, he looked over to me and gave a smile, a wink and a nod.
And if you think about it, why wouldn’t he say something? He’s a professional athlete who for 11 seasons now has been heckled in every visiting city he’s ever played in, so it’s not overly surprising to hear him playfully stand up for fellow athletes when given this rare opportunity.
My buddy took it in stride and I honestly thought that was the end of it … until another Caps fan decided to fire back, saying something disparaging about baseball. The comment was something along the lines of “I hope the Capitals get it together. Otherwise we might be forced to watch baseball” and calls the Giants players losers.
That’s when Huff inserted himself into the story. He stands up and says “Wait. Let me shine this championship ring for you” and proceeds to do just that. Unfortunately the line got a few laughs from people nearby and Huff’s liquid courage was in full effect.
Huff, who was chain smoking and pounding shitty beers (Bud Light, if I recall correctly) even moved to the seat closest to us to ensure the awkward situation continued.
At the intermission, I poked my head over to their side and said something along the lines of “Hey guys, it’s all in good fun” in hopes of diffusing the situation, to which Huff responded, “Don’t worry about it, man. I’m sure those guys are embarrassing to you too. There’s one in every crowd.”
And honestly, I once again thought that was the end of it.
But the more beers Huff got in him, the more fired up he got. And his teammates, seeing the potential for a memorable evening, were more than happy to keep egging him on.
So Huff, who has just three hits in his last 34 at bats, apparently had plenty of energy left in the tank and was more than happy to stand up and obnoxiously cheer for Tampa – the city which he called home for six and a half seasons.
When Martin St. Louis’ pass deflected off of Green and into the Caps net to give the away team a 2-1 lead, Huff reacted as if he’d scored the goal himself.
He was dancing. He was screaming about Tampa sending Washington to an early playoff exit. In short, he was having the time of his life and making sure anyone within earshot knew it.
Even after my buddy Juneau moved away from him – joining me in the back row of seats in our suite – Huff continued to turn around and try to antagonize the guy.
When he finally realized that Juneau wasn’t interested in his douchebaggery, Huff found another shiny object to occupy his time – getting into a verbal altercation with a Caps fan located near the other side of their suite.
When Vincent Lecavalier scored the overtime winner for Tampa, Huff lost it. He wanted anyone and everyone nearby to know how much he was enjoying the moment.
And in that moment, he didn’t look like a $10-million-a-year world champion. He looked like an obnoxious drunk begging someone – anyone – to fight him. I’m glad to report that no Caps fans stooped to his level.
Thankfully, Juneau was willing to be the bigger man – even if it meant swallowing his pride in the face of a belligerent fan looking for a conflict.
I will say though, this story shouldn’t be held against the Giants. With the exception of one player who had too much to drink, the rest of the guys were having a good time and were happily interacting with D.C. sports fans without incident.
I saw several guys – Burrell included – posing for photos and signing autographs for kids during the intermission. Pitcher Brian Wilson (and his epic beard) was cracking people up all night long. And I even chatted briefly with second baseman Emmanuel Burriss – a D.C. native who is a big-time Caps fan – and he couldn’t have been nicer.
My hope is, the next time Huff heads to the plate, more than a few opposing fans let him have it. Whether it’s here in Washington or elsewhere, here’s hoping they treat him the same way he carried himself at the Caps game.
The Giants don’t have a trip to Philadelphia (where drunks are always more than happy to act a fool) on the schedule for a while, but maybe a few passionate fans will be willing and able to step up and answer the call.
Oh, and while you’re at it, if the Caps do somehow come back and make a series out of this, feel free to let Huff hear about that too.
May 2, 2011 at 8:27 am
Huff has been an ass for his entire career. Met him a few times when he played for the O’s and he always thought his shit didn’t stink. Glad to see the other Giants were classy, since their AA farm team is here in Richmond.
May 2, 2011 at 9:27 am
This Bud Light is for you, “Mr. Professional Sportsman who thinks he is a big man by showing a ring to fans. Without you we’d forget that it only takes one turd to make all athletes look like Egotistical pricks. Sure you can hit a little white ball better than most, but when it comes to the game of life; you just threw a gutter ball. So enjoy selling your ring when you’ve retired and wasted all your money because you’re too dumb to hold a day job.”
May 2, 2011 at 10:26 am
Classic story…thanks for sharing.
May 2, 2011 at 10:57 am
first of all “juneau” (for the remainder of this rant we’ll call the certain blogger… hmm… i dont know… is bin laden still around? … no? … um… “crosby” then… anyhoo… )said that Schultz looked liked an “orangutan” when tried to remove a lightning player’s head with massive ape-like arms and the pretty outfielder (i’m pretty sure he was wearing an ascot http://www.duvets-and-curtains-direct.co.uk/sitedata/191/gang001a.jpg ) said “they cant hear you”, i replied “i wished i couldnt hear you,” he said something along of lines of “im an athlete and you’re fat (which in his defense is mostly true if you consider baseball players atheletes) , and i replied that san francisco must be great a place for him and is his apartment on Castro street?(sorry, yeah i know) and that was that and we were still in the “all in fun zone” if not also a “leave me alone ill leave you alone zone”
but then the emaciated michael rooker wanna-be with the drunken shakes stood up and started kissing his pimp bling… imagine what he could accomplish if he played a real sport? (i can say that cause i’m fat)
still “crosby’s” wife (<- hehe theres two-words you know we'll never hear together for real) (yeah yeah i know, twice in one post, sorry) gave me the shit for being the bigger man which she loosely defined as "cowardise"… i got news for you lady… my belly was EARNED with years of inactivity, not in a bathroom stall at Heinz fields shortly before 11pm on January 1st. so don't think you can roll with the doughnut patrol just yet. and in any event i was totally ready to go take on 20 guys by myself, but on the way out the door the mirror politely reminded me that i am neither wolverine nor chuck norris
still… i've been beaten up before, and i've slept better than i did last night.
May 2, 2011 at 11:13 am
Good read. It’s too bad I’m a delicate little flower and that shit ruined the night for me. He was a prick.
May 2, 2011 at 11:22 am
krol2 (the destroyer)
the score might have also ruined the evening for you
May 2, 2011 at 11:59 am
Homer. I had no idea it was you, an honor sir. I was the caps fan in front of you. I told him the only giants I’d recognize were lincicum and Wilson. I didn’t call the champs losers, I did mock them for losing to the pathetic nationals. While we got into it a bit, it was all in fun. At times aubrey was a bit much, but we shook hands afterwards, got a picture together, and he even let me take a picture of his ring. Love your writing, and I hope I didn’t block your kids view.
May 2, 2011 at 12:32 pm
I would’ve fought to the death for you.
Your Preggo Protector
May 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm
wait was that me or the real juneau?
May 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm
You people in the suites know how to par-tay.
May 2, 2011 at 3:32 pm
I think somebody should’ve said: “Wait, we have DJ King hanging out there. I think he can talk to you”. That would be it for Huff’s brave.
May 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm
“You people in the suites know how to par-tay.”
Comment by Dave at Caps News Network
and we almost all nearly completely clothed this time…
May 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm
Here’s something that says a lot about Huff. Last year he made the comment that it was nice to finally be on a team in a pennant race. Guess he forgot that the year before he was on the Tigers who lost a one game playoff to the Twins. Anything more than a .189 BA (Maybe .195) and the Tigers might not have had to play that one game playoff.
May 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm
Being that your Caps are getting their asses kicked at least you found a Bolts fan to rail out. Hope it makes you feel better about yourself…hehe
May 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm
dudes father was killed for being a good citizen…may shed some light why he’s a douche
May 3, 2011 at 2:26 am
Man, I hope this story is true because it makes me love Aubrey even more. Trolling opposing fans is the best.