Cubs fan explains Christie confrontation

posted by Drew Olson -

Chris Christie confronts a Cubs fan (@bennyhutch)

Chicago Cubs fan Brad Joseph, whose confrontation with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went viral Sunday afternoon at Miller Park, has posted an explanation on his Facebook page

Here is the text: 

So yesterday was an interesting day. I want to thank all the friends and family that reached out. Yes, I was the one who had a confrontation with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Cubs' game in Milwaukee. I want to thank WISN Channel 12 in Milwaukee for doing the story, but since they had to edit for time, and since many have asked, here is the whole story of what happened:

Yesterday morning, Laurel, Ben, Katherine and I all drove up to Milwaukee for the Cubs' game. We had pretty good seats behind home plate and the drive up was fairly uneventful, as were the first several innings of the game. At some point around the seventh inning, Katherine nudged me and said “That was Chris Christie who just walked by...” I hadn't noticed him, as I was watching the game, but I turned around, and sure enough, Chris Christie was about 30 feet away making his way towards the concession stand.

Some other fans at the game were already heckling him, so I yelled his name and he turned around, at which point I shouted “You Suck!” and then I sat back down. A few minutes passed and he returned to his seat. He got a few rows farther down from where I was sitting and he paused for awhile; there was nobody blocking his path and no reason for him to be blocking the aisle and our view of the game. At this point I told Christie that he was a “hypocrite.”

I was seated at the end of our row, and Christie turned around and made his way up the few steps that separated us. As he approached he looked at me and said “Have another beer,” which caused me to laugh, since I thought it was a decent comeback under the circumstances despite the fact we hadn't been drinking at all, but Christie quickly made it clear that he wasn't joking around. He came a few inches from my face and began to call me a “big shot,” and a “tough guy,” and asking “what are you gonna do now?” He was close enough that I could feel his breath on my face as he shouted at me. He never denied being a hypocrite. Then, his right foot stepped well outside of the aisle and into our row, and he began to hit my leg with his knee in an aggressive fashion.

At this point I heard someone ask “what is going on?” to which I turned and calmly replied, “well, this guy is accosting me.” Christie was incredulous at this characterization of the interaction, despite the fact that he was the one who initiated physical contact, and despite the fact that his tone and conduct were intended to provoke a reaction to which his security detail could respond. I sat calmly in the back of my chair as Christie became frustrated with my refusal to turn a verbal confrontation into a physical one. After calling me a big shot a few more times, he relented and turned away, as I thanked him for his opinion.

A few seconds later someone from Christie's security detail began threatening all of us with being “locked up,” although he didn't seem to have any problem with Christie initiating physical contact. Once it became clear that we hadn't been drinking and would not be intimidated, the agent left us alone, no doubt to enjoy the rest of the game at taxpayer's expense. The agent expressed his own personal disagreement with Christie while admonishing us that such a confrontation was unwise, asking “do you think I agree with everything he does?”

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.

Many people on social media have assumed that I must be a liberal or democrat, but I want to be clear that this was not about republicans or democrats. I am a registered republican and I voted for Donald Trump, but my politics do not fit conveniently into one box or another. I do think that Chris Christie is an embarrassment to the party and his ties to Trump during the campaign gave me great cause for concern. During a discussion last year before the election, where I argued that Hillary Clinton ought to be prosecuted for her corruption, a friend challenged me about corruption within the republican party, and specifically asked about Chris Christie. I said then that it doesn't matter which party someone is from, the system breaks down if we ignore hard evidence of corruption because the person happens to share our opinions on some other issue. That friend told me today that I put my money where my mouth is by calling out Chris Christie in public.

As far as the criticisms I've received in response, I'd like to address those as well, and hopefully now that I've shared my side of the story, the entire story, we can have a discussion about those criticisms.

First and foremost, I believe in free speech. However, some may be surprised to hear me say that I don't actually think this is a situation where the first amendment is relevant. Miller Park is private property, and the owners have every right to limit what can and cannot be said on the premises. I bought a ticket to a baseball game, and presumably Chris Christie did too. Part of the fun of the game, especially a heated rivalry like the Cubs and Brewers, is a fair amount of heckling. Although the stadium was mostly filled with Cubs fans, the few Brewers fans who made the trip out to the park were enjoying a good deal of heckling towards the Cubs fans and the Cubs fans didn't hesitate to return the favor. Christie was seated many rows ahead of us and I don't know what was directed to him while he was in his seats, but as he passed us I didn't hear anything that went beyond what you would expect to hear at a baseball game. The heckling from the other fans referenced the beach and bridge scandals, as well as general displeasure, but never crossed any of what are considered to be the lines that should not be crossed—nobody said anything about his appearance or his family, and nobody was using profanity. As I've already mentioned, the only things I said were his name to get his attention, “you suck,” and “hypocrite.” I'm sure Christie would like to go out in public without having people shout at him and point out his hypocrisy. But I'm also sure that this wasn't the first time it happened to him, and I don't think its reasonable for Chris Christie to expect to be in a public place with a rowdy atmosphere and not be heckled. If Miller Park wants to provide Chris Christie with a place where he is immune from criticism, they should be free to do so, but I don't believe I violated any park rules with the way I acted.

To those who said that Chris Christie was just standing up for himself and had every right to do so, I cannot disagree with your opinion because if I based my opinion solely on the video that was taken of the end of the incident, I probably would agree with you. When I told Chris Christie he was a hypocrite, I believe that he has every right to respond to that claim. I'd be fine with him being a little agitated about it, and if he told me it wasn't the time or the place, and that he's just trying to enjoy a day at the ball park with his son who he doesn't see enough, I'd agree that he deserved a little slack. But that's not what he did. If anything, his reaction proved that he does, in fact, suck. As a politician and a person. His initial comeback of “have another beer,” reveals that he doesn't think anyone would disagree with him unless he had been drinking. The fact that he didn't realize it was actually a decent comeback shows how tone deaf he is--he could have left it at that and won the day, and maybe even some respect. The fact that he needed to continue, and that he needed to escalate the confrontation reveals a great deal of insecurity. And 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 reveals him to be nothing more than a schoolyard bully, who wants to fight but who is too cowardly to fight fairly.

To anyone who wants to claim I backed down, all I'd say is that I'm not going to punch a sitting governor when I know there are federal agents assigned to protect him standing behind me no matter how much he provokes me. If Chris Christie wants to fight fair, Tuff 'n' Uff, the premier amateur mixed martial arts group, has already agreed to put on an event sanctioned by the Nevada Athletic Commission. I'll agree to compete under any standard rules you want, whether its MMA, boxing, freestyle, folkstyle, or greco-roman wrestling. Just let me know if you still want to make this physical. You won't even have to cut any weight. I doubt you'll agree to it, but McGregor-Mayweather surprised us all.

What I'd really like though is for you to respond to the claim that you are a hypocrite. How can you make a career of fighting public corruption only to engineer traffic jams in a town where the mayor refused to back you? How is that not the very definition of corruption? Why do you think you and your family should be entitled to enjoy a beach that's closed to the public? Isn't enjoying a benefit as the governor that is not available to the rest of the citizens the very definition of public corruption? How can you expect the American public to have any faith in you as you serve in your role as chair of the opioid commission when you demonstrate such blatant hypocrisy? How can the people of New Jersey have any faith in your ability to govern when you view public roads and beaches as pawns in your chess game?

Thank you to all my friends and family for their love and support.

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Drew Olson

Drew Olson

Veteran journalist Drew Olson has worked in nearly every facet of sports media in Milwaukee... Read more

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