Jason Giambi is looking forward to his first on-field confrontation with an unruly fan. AP
By Dan George, SI.com
Cleveland Indians coach Jeff Datz remembers the good old days.
"It used to be that when someone ran out onto the field, it was the Kissing Bandit -- that pretty woman that came up to you and gave you a kiss," he said. "Not anymore. Now if someone runs out onto the field, he jumps on your back."
Yes, the days of Morganna, the buxom stripper who made a name ambushing the likes of Pete Rose and George Brett with on-field kisses back in the '70s, are long gone. All you have to do is look at last week to know that.
Within a span of five days a fan leaped out of the stands at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field (née Comiskey Park) and tried to tackle first-base umpire Laz Diaz, while another fan at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., beaned Texas Rangers outfielder Carl Everett with a cell phone hurled from the right-field stands.
Fan violence is certainly nothing new, but add these incidents to last year's assault of Kansas City Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa by a father and his teenage son at Comiskey Park, and it appears to be on the rise.
And players sound as if they've had just about enough of it.
"I might be the happiest guy on the planet if that ever happened to me," said New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi. "I'd get to beat the [expletive] out of somebody, take out a little frustration."
You might even advertise that prospect, said Seattle Mariners outfielder Mike Cameron.
"Just put an advisory on the scoreboard that if you come on the field, you are going to get your butt kicked," Cameron said. "You look at every guy who has come on the field, he has gotten his butt kicked."
But Sandy Alderson, Major League Baseball executive vice president, says unruly fans are a job for security, not players. Still, what do you do when some liquored-up fool charges onto the field and it's just you and him?
"If someone rushes toward me, this is what I do," said New York Yankees centerfielder Bernie Williams, putting his fists up. "I'm going to assume they're trying to hurt me, not shake my hand."
Same with Baltimore third-base coach Tom Trebelhorn, who already has circled the Orioles' visit to Chicago in the middle of May. "I'm going to be on red alert. I won't be orange or amber," he said. "And anyone who comes out of the stands, I'm going to kick his [butt]."
We see a theme here.
SI.com's Power Rankings
San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds? Jose Cruz? Marquis Grissom? Hah. With 21 RBIs in his first 18 games, J.T. Snow is on pace for 189 RBIs. That's 85 more than his personal best, set in 1997.
New York Yankees So far they're 1-for-2 on big-name free-agent signings. Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras, who signed a four-year deal for $32 million this winter, is in the minors. But Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui finished his first New York homestand 10 for 32 (.313), with two homers and 12 RBIs.
Kansas City Royals At 8-0, they're the only undefeated team at home in either league. Their Friday-night game with the Tigers drew a 38,937, their largest non-Opening Day crowd in April since 1989.
Boston Red Sox The new seats above the Green Monster have been a hit with fans -- and more work for the grounds crew. Because of extra trash blowing onto the field from atop the 37-foot wall, workers have to clean up the area several times a game.
Chicago Cubs At 12-7, Dusty Baker's team is only four short of the club record for victories in April, set in 1969.
Chicago White Sox Sandy Alomar likes what he's seen so far of Bartolo Colon (1-0, 3.32 ERA). "He used to rely on a four-seam fastball and a little breaking ball," said Alomar, who caught Colon with the Indians. "Now his curveball is a lot better and a little slower. That tricks some hitters."
Montreal Expos During a tour of Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico, a military policeman asked if any of the Expos wanted to know what it felt like to get shot. Reliever T.J Tucker volunteered, and the MP shot him in the rear with a simulated 9-millimeter pistol used for training. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," said Tucker. We hope so.
Colorado Rockies Forget about those spring training reports that first baseman Todd Helton's back remains a problem. Typically a slow starter despite his .333 career average, Helton is hitting .324 with five home runs and 19 RBIs.
Oakland Athletics Just what they need -- more pitching. Rich Harden, a 21-year-old right-hander, has given up two earned runs on four hits over 19 innings in two starts at Class AA and one at AAA. Oh, yeah. He's also struck out 25.
Seattle Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln is unhappy about a Forbes magazine article saying his team turned a profit of $23.3 million last year. He says it was actually $10.7 million. The M's led the majors with 3.5 million home attendance in 2002, but they're down more than 7,000 per game this season.
Philadelphia Phillies Three weeks into the season and slugging first baseman Jim Thome has as many triples as home runs - two each. With 15 RBIs, however, he's still on pace to drive in more than 100 runs.
St. Louis Cardinals Before holding the Diamondbacks to one run in eight innings Sunday, Brett Tomko had given up 12 runs in the first inning of his first three starts. Was his problem mental or physical? "It's apples and oranges," he said. "And probably some watermelons. It's more like a fruit salad."
Minnesota Twins Hands down the streakiest team in either league this season. After winning their first three games, they've lost six straight, won six in a row and lost their past four.
Houston Astros When Lance Berkman finally hit his first home run in Game 11, he became just the second player -- the first was Mo Vaughn in 1997 -- to go his first 10 games without a homer after recording at least 40 homers and 120 RBIs the season before. Yes, there is a stat for everything.
Anaheim Angels Disney wanted $300 million for them, but settled for a $180 million bid from Phoenix billboard magnate Arturo Moreno. That's about $67 million less than Disney paid for the team, if you include $100 million it spent to renovate Edison Field.
Atlanta Braves They've won 56 consecutive regular-season games, dating to last May, in which closer John Smoltz has pitched. "He's Superman right now," manager Bobby Cox said.
Florida Marlins In one of the lesser PR efforts of the young season, they ran ads in local papers saying: "Come see batting practice with Greg Maddux and the Braves." Maddux, who had been off to the worst start of his career, promptly limited the Marlins to two hits in six innings en route to a 7-1 victory.
Pittsburgh Pirates A sure sign that things are going badly? The dreaded players-only meeting. Outfielder Reggie Sanders called one Friday night after the Bucs dropped their fifth game in six outings. Then they went out and made it six out of seven with a 6-1 loss to the Cubs on Saturday.
Baltimore Orioles If Tony Batista doesn't look out, he's going to ruin his reputation as a free swinger. Three times this season, he's come to the plate with the bases loaded. And three times he's walked.
Milwaukee Brewers Two-word definition for bad free-agent signing? Jeffrey Hammonds. In the final year of a three-year, $21.75 million deal, Hammonds is on the DL for the eighth time in his career. After hitting .216 after the All-Star break last season, he was at .158 when he went down with a sprained ankle April 14.
Los Angeles Dodgers Jim Tracy is hoping their 16-run explosion Sunday against the Giants is a sign of better things to come. They entered the weekend series with Fred McGriff batting .185, Alex Cora .191, Cesar Izturis .228, and Adrian Beltre .208.
New York Mets After Armando Benitez blew his fourth save this season Saturday, matching his blown-save total from all of last season, he told reporters, "It's only April. Come back and talk to me in five months." Where, Norfolk?
San Diego Padres With Trevor Hoffman out, former Indians starter Jaret Wright has reemerged as a saves candidate. Wright, who started Game 7 of the '97 World Series against the Marlins, is trying to resurrect his career after a pair of arm operations.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Rocco Baldelli's season-opening 13-game hitting streak was ended last week by Pedro Martinez, but the rookie finally drew his first major league walk -- after 64 plate appearances. It was Baldelli's first base on balls since last Aug. 4 at Class AAA Durham.
Texas Rangers One year after being sent to the minors as a much-hyped rookie flop, Hank Blalock is leading the American League with a .421 batting average. Meanwhile, this spring's phenom, Mark Teixeira, is hitting .173 with two homers and seven RBIs.
Arizona Diamondbacks Less than two years after winning the World Series, they became only the third team in history to fall at least 10 games out of first place by April 15. The others were the 2002 Tigers (10 1/2 games back) and '03 Tigers (10).
Toronto Blue Jays They lead the American League with 22 errors, resulting in 15 unearned runs by Blue Jays pitchers. Chief offenders: second baseman Orlando Hudson and shortstop Chris Woodward, with four errors each.
Cleveland Indians They may not be playing well, but they are playing faster. Through their first 10 games, the average time of an Indians game had dropped by 30 minutes -- from 2:54 last year to 2:24 this season.
Cincinnati Reds With stars Barry Larkin and Ken Griffey on the shelf with injuries, $21.5 million of the Reds' $58 million payroll is on the DL.
Detroit Tigers What does a 4.55 ERA get you in Detroit? If you're Mike Maroth, an 0-5 record just 17 games into the season … which puts him on pace to go 0-47.