So much for fun at the ol’ ballpark.
In his latest misadventure at a major league ballgame, Chris Christie found himself at the epicenter of bizarre headlines once again Sunday afternoon. The New Jersey governor followed up the boofest he received from Mets fans earlier this month when he caught a foul ball by confronting a Chicago Cubs fan who was heckling him at Milwaukee’s Miller Park.
“You’re a big shot,” Christie told the fan, before walking back to his seat. The fan subsequently took to Facebook to apologize for some of his language, but to also to offer a fuller version of events and to reiterate his vocal description of Christie as a “hypocrite.”
Christie’s presence at the Brewers-Cubs game can be explained by the fact that his son, Andrew, works in the Brewers’ baseball operations department. It’s less easy to explain the give-and-take with the fan.
The governor was proceeding down steps with a bowl of nachos when the Cubs fan, Brad Joseph, expressed the opinion “that he sucked,” Joseph told WISN reporter Ben Hutchinson, who happens to be his cousin and caught the end of the conversation on video.
“When he initially was going up the stairs I yelled his name. He was already quite a bit past me, and 30 feet away I yelled his name and told him that he sucked. … I called him a hypocrite because I thought it needed to be said,” Joseph told Hutchinson. “He then turned around and walked all the way back toward me and got up in my face for what seemed like a long time, but was probably only about 30 seconds or a minute.”
According to Joseph, Christie’s knee made contact with him and he asked Joseph if he wanted to “start something.”
“[He] was yelling at me. First he told me, ‘Why don’t you have another beer?’ which I thought was a decent comeback, and I thought that was kind of funny,” Joseph said. “Then he started calling me a tough guy.”
On Facebook, Joseph said, “I’m not proud of my behavior today and I regret shouting ‘you suck!’ at Christie. So Chris, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I didn’t have much time to think of anything to say, and I wanted to express my displeasure with you. I could have done better than ‘you suck.’
“What I do not regret is calling Chris Christie a hypocrite. This is a man who made a career out of demonizing public corruption only to become exactly what he denounced.”
Joseph described himself as a registered Republican and a Trump voter, but he said that Christie’s “ties to Trump during the campaign gave me great cause for concern.” He specifically cited the governor’s notorious recent beach trip and an earlier scandal involving the George Washington Bridge as “the very definition of public corruption.”
Joseph again claimed in his Facebook post that Christie seemed to have intentionally positioned himself so that his knee was hitting Joseph’s leg “in an aggressive fashion.” The Cubs fan said that Christie’s “tone and conduct were intended to provoke a reaction to which his security detail could respond.”
“The fact that he tried to turn a verbal confrontation into a physical one when he had the backing of multiple federal agents who would no doubt take his side,” Joseph added, “reveals him to be nothing more than a schoolyard bully, who wants to fight but who is too cowardly to fight fairly.”
Christie has been getting an earful from more than just baseball fans of late. According to a July poll by Monmouth University, Christie’s approval rating had fallen to 15 percent after his July 4 “Beachgate” incident in which the Newark Star-Ledger published photos of the governor with his family enjoying a beach closed to the public amid a statewide government shutdown.
“That’s the way it goes,” Christie said at the time. “Run for governor, and you can have the residence.”
Part of being a public official means listening to the public, even if the feedback is unpleasant.
“He is a public official and this is America,” Joseph told Hutchinson, “and I think we have the right to say what you believe as long as it’s not crude or profane.”
Whatever Christie is hearing now, just wait until/if he gets a sports-talk radio job. On WFAN earlier this month, a caller, “Mike from Montclair,” crushed him over Beachgate. “Governor, next time you want to sit on a beach that is closed to the entire world except you, you put your fat [butt] in a car and go to one that’s open to all your constituents.”
Luckily, Christie is seldom at a loss for a response.
“You know, Mike, I love getting calls from Communists in Montclair,” he retorted.