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In Nashville, they throw catfish. In Detroit, the originator of this bizarre and frankly gross tradition, they throw octopuses (yes, octopuses, not octopi, look it up ya peons). In Pittsburgh, they apparently throw nothing.
You see, a citywide effort to not sell any catfish to any potential Predators fan led fish store owners to check IDs for those buying catfish: anyone from Tennessee was barred from such a purchase.
Jacob Waddell, Tennessean, sought to hurl a catfish on the ice in Game 1 in true Nashville Predators tradition. And he did just that.
He acquired a catfish in Nashville — which, he says, he did without knowing about the catfish rejection policy in Pittsburgh, because he wanted it to be a Nashville catfish — and sprayed it down with Old Spice (no, seriously) before putting it on ice, visiting his cousin, and taking his anticipated trip to his in-laws in nearby Boardman, Ohio. At his cousin’s house, he filleted the fish and ran over it a few times with his truck to make it easier to vacuum-seal. Then, at his in-laws in Ohio, he strapped up by hiding the fish in his underwear, concealed further by compression shorts and baggy pants. His cover worked on his in-laws, so he knew he’d be able to get into PPG Paints Arena without issue.
And, after waiting for the Penguins to take a 3–0 lead (for some reason), Waddell flung the fish on to the ice.
Now, this is obviously grounds for immediate expulsion from the game if you’re seen (and it isn’t a tradition, I think). Any fan that throws anything on to the ice and is seen by security is round up and dismissed immediately. The authorities may be called, and the offending fan probably receives a slap on the wrist, but is sent home (USUALLY). And according to Sean Gentille of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Waddell knew full well that he’d be ejected, and was the perfect gentleman when dealing with the guards. No real reason for any further discipline, but he had to meet with police anyway.
Evidently, that wasn’t enough for the cotton-soft Pittsburgh Police Department, because the next morning, it was revealed he received not one, not two, but THREE charges for the incident: misdemeanors for disorderly conduct, disrupting a meeting, and possessing an instrument of crime.
Assuming that nothing serious would come of the situation, he got a little sarcastic with the cops detaining him, who then informed him he would be charged with disorderly conduct. Fine, whatever, there’s no real way to argue it wasn’t disorderly conduct. They want to make an example of him, and have a case to do so, especially given his attitude at the police station. That should be all she wrote, but alas, it was not.
Disrupting a meeting? If you want to call a loud, raucous hockey game attended by some 18,000 screaming people a meeting, I have a beach house to sell you in Idaho, since apparently the definitions of things can be extrapolated to their outermost extremes to you. (There’s gotta be water in Idaho somewhere!)
And, the cherry on top: how is a filleted catfish, with its guts hanging out and half its weight stripped from it, an instrument of crime? The angsty fanboys that had to deal with him, instead of being able to watch the game, probably ordered some cadet or intern to scour any and every law they could to find a way to tack on an extra fine to this guy who had the audacity to root for another team and invade their territory. “Hey! That guy was disorderly with a fish! The fish is an instrument of crime!” I would be willing to bet a fair sum of money that I don’t have that most folks who are charged with this crime likely have some sort of real weapon in their possession. Unless this game was an old cartoon your parents or grandparents watched, I don’t think you could consider a fish a weapon, especially in this scenario.
Pittsburgh PD ended up dropping the charges against Waddell, most likely because they realized they were acting like 6 year-olds. The backlash from fans and media alike probably helped, as well. But the whole ordeal was a waste of taxpayer money and could have been avoided if at least one person with some pull within the department said “hey, this is pretty ridiculous, let it and him go.”
Instead, the Pittsburgh Police Department will go down in history as the pettiest cops ever to deal with an opposing sports fan, probably. That’s what happens when you go fishing for fake justice. (Folks, I’m sorry.)