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Joey Votto got into it with a fan at Great American Ballpark on Monday night, mocking the fan's weight as well as the fact that the guy, according to Joey at least, has no life.
The reaction to what Joey did, including mine, was mostly pro-Votto. We like Joey. Joey is good at his job. He's built up enough equity and he's just eccentric enough of a character to get away with giving it back to someone who decided to come at the best player on the team.
The last guy to unleash insults at a fan, however, was met with a different reaction. Last November, then-UC coach Tommy Tuberville told a customer to "go to Hell" and "get a job." The response to what Tubs did, including mine, was almost universally anti-Tuberville. Tubs had built up no equity with fans and with most UC supporters turning against him, the line of people coming to the coach's defense was a short one.
This goes to show that some sports figures are allowed to yell back at hecklers, even to the point of insulting them. Others, not so much.
With this in mind, here's a guide to which Cincinnati sports figures are allowed to yell back at fans.
Marvin Lewis. I'm not sure Marvin would yell back at fans as much as he'd condescendingly talk down to them, then follow up a verbal dis with an awkward chuckle, but if years of playoff futility earns you continued employment, then the right to yell back can only be earned with a postseason victory. Allowed to yell back? No.
Bronson Arroyo. You'd let him yell back at you if only he yelled back at you using soft insults, stinging you with blows that made you wonder after the verbal abuse was over how he was able to hit you so hard with comebacks that lacked bite. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
Mick Cronin. Put up with 11 years of people treating you the way some fans treat Mick Cronin, and you're allowed to say your piece. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
Billy Hamilton. Lifetime .312 hitters are allowed to yell back. Lifetime .250 hitters are not. Allowed to yell back? No.
Andy Dalton. There might not be a guy more unlikely to yell back than Andy Dalton, but after being booed by a few thousand people at a charity softball game, the guy has a good yell-back in his back pocket that he should be able to use at any time. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
Pacman Jones. He yells at cops. He yells at media. Why shouldn't he be allowed to yell at fans? Especially when the fans he yells at will probably excuse his behavior anyway. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
Bryan Price. I went to a late-season game in 2015 that was delayed by rain for about 90 minutes. When the game began, there might have been 43 people in the ballpark. The tired usher working the aisle behind the Reds dugout let my buddy and I sit about three rows off of the dugout, just above the little opening on the left hand side where you can see in and watch the manager relay signs to the third base coach. Anyway, one drunk guy spent four innings yelling "The Price is wrong, bitch!" non-stop, basically until he passed out. Did Bryan Price have the right to yell back at that guy? Yes. Anyone else? No. Allowed to yell back? No.
Chris Mack. If you're gonna yell back, you've gotta be funny. Chris would yell back with something that'd make us laugh, at least. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
AJ Green. Only because yelling back would let us know that AJ actually has feelings. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
Luke Fickell. Right now, Luke Fickell could stand at intersections near schools and verbally abuse schoolchildren as they crossed the street and I'd be okay with it. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
Alan Koch. Every hear this guy talk? His accent is beautiful. Being yelled at by him would almost be soothing. Allowed to yell back? Yes.
AJ McCarron. Play a nice fourth quarter in a playoff game, and some would have you think that the Bengals have the next Tom Brady on their bench. But go an entire season without taking a snap, and you've yet to earn the right to yell back. Allowed to yell back? No.