April 24, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I'm a baseball fan, tried and true. If there was any doubt before this column all you have to consider is the fact that I am writing about America's pastime instead of composing another article about the start of turkey season. It's funny because I basically can combine the two subjects because here lately they're sure have been lots of turkeys running onto the fields during baseball games. These aren't the feathered types that haunt the local woods, but there still ones you wouldn't mind shooting at all the same. These turkeys are the drunks and psychos that all of a sudden feel the need to charge onto the baseball diamond in the middle of the game to attack coaches and umpires.

We Missouri folks may be a little more testy about the subject than others since the Kansas City Royals have been involved in the two highest profile cases. Both took place in Chicago. The first saw two houdlums attack the Royals first base coach. The most recent occurred last week when some moron tried to sneak up behind the first base umpire. While one might see some logic in that choice of victim, as opposed to a well-trained professional athlete, this umpire just happened to be an ex-marine so needless to say the altercation was short lived. It took a bus-load of security personnel to resolve the incident - not because of the attacker, but instead to pry away all of the Royals players that charged to the umpires aid and got in more than their fair share of blows on the would-be assailant.

Of course this latest incident has the sporting world in an uproar. There needs to be more security and we need to stiffen the penalties for people that do illegally enter the playing field. I agree but I would suspect the biggest deterrent might simply be to let the players handle the situation themselves. Instead of sending the security personnel in to drag the trespasser away, let the players, coaches and umpires settle the deal. Let these guys take out their frustrations on these idiots and maybe they will quit fighting amongst themselves. They're always arguing calls, complaining about coaches decisions or charging the mound after the latest bean ball. If we put them in charge of their own security maybe they would take out their frustrations on the next bozo to come out of the stands. I'm sure I would feel much safer in my seat in the stands than running around on the field with about 50 guys armed with ball bats and metal spiked shoes.

Seriously, there does need to be some improved security. How long is going to be before someone gets on the field with a knife, a gun or some other type of weapon and really hurts someone. If it keeps up they are going to have prison towers replace the fouls poles and put sharpshooters in place to protect the players.

While we are busy cleaning up the ballparks, why stop with on-field security? Why not get rid of the loudmouth drunks that ruin it for everyone sitting within their block of seats. I love to go to ballgames and would love to take the kids, but I want them to learn to cheer for their team and their favorite players not how to hurl insults at the opposition and how to whine about the umpiring. Restaurants have no smoking areas. Why don't ballparks come up with no heckling sections? Obviously it's not all bad. I've been to St. Louis, Kansas City and my favorite, Wrigley Field in Chicago, and there are plenty of good memories. I just hope when I do take the kids to their first game we can talk about homeruns and strikeouts instead of trying to explain why some fat guy dropped his pants to moon the umpire.

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