My Personal #HeathBellExperience – Day 2 1/2Posted by Jeff Summers on Jul 5, 2013 in 2013 Regular Season | 2 comments
Karma is an interesting concept. Its origin is traced back to Indian religions as the concept of action or deed. The theory is that our lives are based on a continuous cycle of cause and effect. A positive action in most cases results in a positive effect and vice versa. The effects may not happen immediately but over time they will even out with the causes to bring balance to our lives. Let me start by saying that is the depth of my understanding. I am not versed in Indian philosophy or theology and in fact the only Indians I know are from Cleveland and they struggle to make the post season. I do have to admit, based on recent events I’m believing more strongly that Karma does indeed exist.
Those of you who have followed my blog for any amount of time or follow me on Twitter or one of the other social media services know that I seem to have almost a sixth sense of being able to stick my foot in my mouth or get myself into some kind of trouble. If I had not recently gotten my birth certificate to verify; I would have sworn that my middle name was trouble instead of danger.
This story is best represented by a line from the movie The Sandlot, “The day we got back together for some baseball was the day I got us into the biggest pickle of all time, and it all started with an omen.”
My usage of social media is purely self-serving. It is a way for me to go out and have fun. I’m not trying to sell something or engage in some master plan to develop my “personal brand”. In fact I am always amazed that I have any followers at all. My timeline like my life consists mostly of bad puns and bad jokes that are somehow baseball related. My problem is that I have a severely warped sense of humor and its impossible to tell a person’s intent in 140 characters. Even with continual reminders from my wife that “one-day you are going to get yourself in trouble”, I still somehow find a way to get myself into insane situations.
In early June during a time when Diamondbacks closer Heath Bell was “scuffling” and he gave up home runs in five consecutive outings, I decided that Bell would be a great subject for twitter. Anyone who has seen Bell knows he is a rather large guy. In a move where my fingers type faster than my brain can think I posted a tweet about the closer’s girth and perhaps he needed to swallow a few less pizzas.
The thing with social media is that it’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and you never think about what impact your comments might have. After all, I’m just a guy in section 132 who would be reading what I’m writing anyways? Well that night I found out that someone does read my comments.
A Twitter user whom I had never seen replied to my comment to tell me that Heath was really quite a healthy eater. Again not thinking I immediately shot off a reply that simply said, “yeah Godzilla was a healthy eater too.” I was kind of proud of myself as I really thought that sounded funny. I need my ears checked because it didn’t sound funny at all. The Twitter user, who had first replied, replied again and this time told me how unfunny I really was. Ok, I didn’t mean to offend anyone and I thought maybe I should go see who this person was and why they were offended. As you might have guessed by now, that offended person was none other than Heath Bell’s wife.
Oh man, what a disaster. I immediately issued a public apology both to Heath’s wife and to Heath via Twitter. It opened a dialog between myself and Heath’s wife where I tried to assure her that my intent was not to be mean but just a case where my comedic skills are pathetic. I tend to try and use humor as a disarming mechanism. Like the bomb squad, sometimes when I am trying to disarm it, it blows up in my face. It was a great lesson to me that you just never know when what you say could be misconstrued as hurtful.
This week while in New York City I visited the MLB Fan Cave. As part of that visit we were told we would be receiving a visit from a Diamondbacks player or players while the team was in town to play the Mets. The players scheduled were JJ Putz and Brad Ziegler. I had previously met Putz last season on my wedding anniversary when I drug my wife to a ball game instead of taking her someone “nice”. I had met Ziegler during the Diamondbacks Tweet-Up and looked forward to seeing him again. Due to Monday’s game going extra innings Putz and Ziegler would not be coming to the Fan Cave. I was disappointed but I understood.
During the afternoon we were told that there was a possibility that a Diamondbacks player might stop by the Fan Cave after the game. Who was the player who might be coming by? It was none other than Heath Bell. My facial expression went from joy to impending doom. To paraphrase Indiana Jones, “Bell why does it always have to be Bell?”
Several of the MLB Fan Cave Dwellers were puzzled by the sudden groan that came out of my mouth. I recounted the events of my Twitter encounter from a month ago. I repeated the story several times to different groups of Cave Dwellers. Each time they stopped me in exactly the same place after I said Heath’s wife said he was a healthy eater. They described in detail when Heath Bell had come by the Fan Cave earlier in the season and told how he was very particular about what he eats. Yeah I get it, my joke was bad.
I happened to mention on Twitter that Heath Bell may be coming to the Fan Cave while we were there. Several people who had seen the initial disaster immediately burst into laughter about how the baseball gods have a sense of humor and how Karma has a way of evening things out.
I also received a message from Heath’s wife telling me not to worry and to not mention the Twitter thing, as Heath does not read Twitter. She assured me that Heath was a cool guy and to just relax. As the day went on I kept thinking about how appropriate it was that Heath Bell would be the player I would be meeting.
The Diamondbacks lost the game in epic fashion after an extended rain delay. Great, not only would I be facing the Diamondbacks player I had publicly called fat but I would be doing so after a game where we got crushed.
When Heath Bell arrived he was greeted by all of the Cave Dwellers who shook his had and welcomed him. I too shook his hand but for the most part stood quietly thinking about what I could possibly say.
Everyone sat on the circular couch but as luck would have it, I was seated right next to Heath. After pleasantries the subject turned to baseball as we watched the west coast games. During this time Heath was talking, answering everyone’s questions. His phone kept going off with text messages that he would read between sentences. Suddenly he stopped talking and focused on his phone. Scrolling up and down through messages he turned and looked directly at me.
“My wife says I am supposed to be nice to the Diamondbacks fan wearing the white jersey,” he said. “Why would my wife say that and why does she know what you are wearing right now?”
That moment reminded me of every Western movie I ever saw. Tables and chairs seemed to move as the gun fighter calls out the guy at the end of the bar into what will ultimately be a gunfight. In my mind I kept reminding myself what Heath’s wife said, whatever you do don’t mention the Twitter thing. I’m from Arizona! I’m probably the only guy in Arizona that doesn’t have a gun. Why am I facing the gunfighter? I’m just a guy from section 132!
Every eye in the place was on the two of us. The tension was palpable; you could cut it with a knife. I don’t even have a knife! What kind of western is this? Finally I spilled my guts telling him about the interaction I had with his wife on Twitter. He made me recount the messages so that everyone knew what was going on. When I got to the point about his wife saying he was a healthy eater the Cave Dwellers stopped me to assure me that part is true. Thanks, where were all of you guys a month ago before all this happened?
When I got to the part where I called him Godzilla I wondered whether the MLB Network had activated their Live Look-in camera so that Billy Ripken and Dan Plesac could analyze Heath Bell’s form as he ripped my arms off and fed them to me.
As the story finished, Heath’s friend Zack Hample had perhaps the best line of the night, “Wait, that was you? When that went down I had to go back and read the interaction. Your comments were funny.” Heath Bell then looked at Zack who then added, “They were mean, but kind of funny.”
Who in their wildest dreams could have anticipated that I would make a stupid comment on Twitter that would be seen by a player’s wife who would call me out and I would end up in New York sitting in the MLB Fan Cave watching a game with the player that I had commented on. “Of all the couches of all the Fan Caves in all the world; you had to walk into mine.”
I will give complete credit to Heath Bell. He was kind and gracious and absolutely amazing. He got everyone to relax and we spent an enjoyable evening together. He didn’t let me forget about the Godzilla comment and I am positive I have not heard the end of it and I shouldn’t.
As Heath was leaving, I pulled him aside and formally apologized. It wasn’t right for me to comment on him and I was raised better than that and wanted him to know that I was truly sorry. He said, “Dude, you need to stop making stupid comments.” For a brief moment Heath Bell was channeling my wife, which makes me just a little uncomfortable, thinking about it. I nodded and he made a great observation, “You’re still going to make dumb comments. I’m going to do dumb things, that’s just the way we are.” No truer words will ever be spoken.
I learned a valuable lesson through all of this. Each and every one of us has a voice and we have to choose how we will use it. There are no anonymous comments and regardless of who you think is reading or listening, you have more influence than you can ever imagine. You shouldn’t say anything that you would not say in person and communication is at best an inexact science.
In all, Heath Bell is an incredibly complex person whose insights into the game of baseball and life are profoundly greater than any of us can ever know. He is passionate about his work and takes it seriously. He doesn’t purposefully falter. Like everyone he is doing his best trying to make the team successful. Sometimes that works out really well and sometimes it doesn’t. Going crazy on the Internet and calling people out or calling for their jobs isn’t going to make them play better, it just makes you look bitter and small. I can’t say I won’t say something stupid again, that’s pretty much a given but at least now I have a level of perspective to understand what that means.