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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Fallout from the Fools
Four goofs run on the field and Sox Fans take the hit.

It was the talk of the national sports media last week.  Once again the White Sox and their fans took a beating because of the behavior of four spectators whose collective IQ probably was about 20.   

The first three morons who simply ran around the outfield until they were caught by White Sox security guards probably would not have any national attention at all, and it’s pretty unlikely that they would have received any local attention except for the few minutes that one of them interrupted the game during a key moment with Kelly Wunsch on the mound.  That interruption caused comment during the television broadcast.  It might have earned a sentence or two in the local sports reports and been left at that had it not been for the fourth incident. 

In the fourth incident a spectator at the game ran out and grabbed first base umpire Laz Diaz following a pop-up by Carlos Lee that ended the eighth inning.  Diaz, who spent time in the Marine Reserves quickly got the guy off his body, and he was promptly pummeled by several Kansas City players. 

Obviously this was news and the frenzy began.  Two of the first three mopes gained their fifteen minutes of fame being interviewed by the local media.  Their explanation of the incident was a perfect example of the me-first attitude so prevalent these days.  "Running on the field was on my to-do list.”  Never mind how it affects the game, the players, or the fans who paid to watch baseball, not to watch someone make a fool of himself. 

The final incident involving Diaz looked like it was inspired by the attack last September on Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa.  Or maybe the idiot was just thinking to himself, "Hell, those guys running on the field are no big deal.  Let me show them how to really get attention." 

The attitudes expressed following the incidents were also interesting.  There was no remorse on the part of the two outfield runners who were interviewed.  They had the attitude that they were entitled to do what they did.   

As for the guy who tried to pants the umpire, his fiancée and his family all had excuses for him.  He was drunk, so the alcohol made him do it, and besides, he has a drinking problem.  His mother has breast cancer, and he has been unemployed since December, so he's not himself.  (How many of us would respond to a family member's serious illness by running out onto a playing field and attacking an umpire or the death of an infant child by attacking a first base coach?) 

The amazing thing with this creep, who was charged with felony battery for attacking the umpire, is that he attended the afternoon game at Wrigley Field, got drunk there, went home, and returned to U.S. Cellular Field with a group including his fiancée, and had about a half dozen beers there.  If he paid his own way, he had to have spent over a hundred dollars during the course of the day.  Either he is using his unemployment compensation money to attend sporting events and get drunk, or those who say he has a drinking problem are his biggest enablers because they financed the whole thing. 

That being said, it is still true that either the White Sox or Major League Baseball do share in some of the responsibility for the inconvenience to the players on the field or to the coaches.   

First of all, many people at that game got drunk at Wrigley Field in the afternoon and took the el to the south side.  Why would the post-9/11 security people, who were frisking fans going into the gates at a sparsely attended game on April 6, let a bunch of drunken slobs in?  Don't they think drunks can get disorderly? 

Second of all, extra security people were supposed to have been hired after September 11, 2001.  We now know exactly how many extra security people should be at the ball park, at least in the lower deck.  A quick count showed 167 aisles looking at the seating chart.  One person should be sitting in the front row on one side of each of those aisles, excluding the ones behind the screen in back of home plate.   

Third, the spectator who attacked the umpire had upper deck tickets.  A lot of fans talk openly about how they take Comiskey upgrade when they go to the ball park.  (For those who are unaware, that means buying an upper deck reserved ticket but hanging around the lower deck to grab unoccupied seats.  It is common practice, and is ignored by ushers except during games with large crowds.   

The White Sox should have known the consequences that result when "everybody does it" and they look the other way.   "Everybody" includes a whole lot of idiots.  Fans who pay for an upper deck ticket, should be allowed to walk the lower deck concourse, but there is supposed to be an usher in every aisle checking tickets.  They are going to have to actually do their jobs. 

Fourth, there is precedent that bartenders can be held liable if someone leaves their establishment drunk and goes out and kills somebody with their car.  This serves as an incentive for them to not overserve their customers.  By overserving customers at the ball park, the vendors are helping to perpetuate the problem.  Vendors should not have the option of serving people who are already drunk.  They should have the right to refuse, and if the drunk gives them any kind of static, security should throw them out. 

Fifth, ticket prices were raised as much as 70% this year.  Parking was increased from $13 to $15.  How much of that extra income do you think the Sox put into increased security? 

Then there is the responsibility of those who attend games.  Numerous calls were made to sportstalk radio stations in the days following the incidents in which parents griped that there were fights in the stands, people using language that used to be reserved for sailors around their kids, etc.   

Not one of them said they went to an usher or security guard to have the idiots thrown out.  When you couple the lack of responsibility felt by the drunks with the fear of getting involved by the masses, the result seen Tuesday is inevitable.   

Ultimately we end up with the same old question that was first posed by Cain, and the answer is yes. 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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Fallout from the Fools?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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