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Playing Hardball
Rick Reilly
April 28, 2003
Wait, wait, wait. Before we let a couple of trailer-park nut bags without enough blood in their alcohol streams ruin the way millions watch baseball, let's all take a cleansing breath.
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April 28, 2003

Playing Hardball

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Wait, wait, wait. Before we let a couple of trailer-park nut bags without enough blood in their alcohol streams ruin the way millions watch baseball, let's all take a cleansing breath.

People are talking about adding so much security at ballparks that they'll end up assigning an usher to every fan. They're talking about putting up nets between the players and the fans, an awful feature of stadiums in Japan. They're talking about stun guns and guard dogs—and that's just in case Roseanne tries to sing the national anthem again.

But what baseball needs to do is less.

In fact the next time some genius with more beer in him than brains decides to run onto the field and get medieval on somebody, baseball needs to do nothing at all. For five minutes. I want security to move with the speed of postal clerks with bunions. Because for those five minutes players from both teams will be piled on top of Tommy Twelvepack, reconfiguring the joker into steak tartare.

When security finally drags him off, Diamond Vision will show the world a guy that looks like a six-foot welt. You won't get another bum on the field until 2050. "If a guy is going to come out on the field, he's going to get what he deserves," says Minnesota Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "I mean, did you see what the [ Kansas City] Royals did to this last guy?"

Oooh, yes; did you? When a drunk fan named Eric Dybas, 24, attacked umpire Laz Diaz at a Chicago White Sox home game last week, the Royals gave him the full-on Uday Hussein greeting. Diaz later admitted force-feeding the man mouthfuls of dirt and grass under the pile. On the outskirts of the pile, one Royal could be seen stomping on Dybas's bare legs with his metal cleats. Hey, you need role players.

"Players see a guy like that as free bait," says Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez. "We know it might be our one chance to get in our WWF wrestling moves."

"Plus you know it's on TV," says Colorado Rockies reliever Todd Jones, "so you better not just try to love him down to the ground, or you'll be taking crap about it in the clubhouse for months."

A picture is worth 1,000 laws. Ask yourself: Has anybody run onto an NFL field since Baltimore Colts linebacker Mike Curtis clotheslined that cretin more than 30 years ago? How many lint-brains jump onto the ice at NHL games, when they can see players coming off spitting bicuspids?

"What you do," says Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, "is you drag him back to the clubhouse, where there's no cameras. We'd treat the guy like family—a crime family. Baseball players aren't the most mentally stable people anyway." Sir, you're about to digest an entire wad of chew. Enjoy!

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