Champ Stuart of the St. Lucie Mets is my 2015 "Designated Recipient"
Every baseball season I seem to find a reason to pick out one player from one of the other Florida State League teams who, through his actions, has earned the right to extra special attention when his team plays the Bradenton Marauders. For the last two years it was Jesus Montero from the Palm Beach Cardinals.
The St. Lucie Mets have always held a special place in my heart ever since that Dominican kid in 2009 threw a bat at me after I assisted him with his third strike out by yelling in Spanish, "You have the penis of a small boy." There has been a hate-hate relationship with St. Lucie ever since that night and it continues to this day.
In 2010 it was the St. Lucie Mets who began heckling me causing then Marauder hitting coach Dave Howard to come over between innings and say "I've never seen anything like this - a team heckling a fan." The Mets also heckled me, as a team, in 2013 and 2014. It might be slightly more than coincidental that the stadium where the St. Lucie Mets play was the first stadium used by Florida State League teams from which I was forcibly removed by the authorities because of my heckling.
Last night, May 1, 2015 at the St. Lucie Mets vs Bradenton Marauders game (that the Marauders won 12-1) I was giving hitting advice to several batters and consulting with the home plate umpire on his calls when I noticed that Champ Stuart, a center fielder from Freeport in the Bahamas, led the team with 28 strikeouts. That little nugget of information was all the incentive I needed to attempt to make Champ feel less than welcome in McKechnie Field.
Adding to Champ’s need for attention was the very real fact that the night before, also in Bradenton, he made an obscene gesture toward the entirety of the Bradenton Marauders. Few other things can be done to ensure that an opposing player receives overt attention than using obscene gestures against my team.
As the box score from last night shows, Champ now has 30 strikeouts for the year and I’m proud to admit that I at least contributed to distracting him and helped facilitate the two new ones. After Champ struck out swinging for this 30th strike out of the year he apparently took umbrage with my suggestion that he should “Use a t-ball stand next time Champ.” I thought I was offering a constructive suggestion to help his career.
Champ saw things differently and began glaring at me. He continued to glare at me every step of the way back to the dugout. We continued our glaring contest until Champ was at the top of the dugout steps when I blew him a kiss. This seemed to upset him, and two innings later as he stood in the on-deck circle before his last at bat of the night, Champ stood very close to me swinging his bat with considerable speed and strength. He hadn’t done that earlier in the night and in fact had warmed up far from me. His action and those of two colleagues before him sent a more than subtle message that they were all wishing my head was in the way of their bat.
Before last night’s game I hadn’t really chosen a designated recipient for added attention during the 2015 season. In fact I was planning to wait until after the Palm Beach Cardinals came to town because I absolutely despise them and would have preferred to have a Cardinal be the one that received a huge ration of grief each time he comes to bat.
However Champ sealed his fate last night on several levels so for the 2015 season Champ Stuart will be my official designated recipient of mountains of invective each time the St. Lucie Mets come to town. Like any other opposing player he could have avoided this attention by simply ignoring me but he chose differently.
The minor leagues are for learning and for player development. Maybe after the 2015 season Champ will learn that closing his ears and looking the other way is the best policy when he plays against Bradenton.