My friend Murray dropped me a line containing the following:
I don't want to blame MLB for the idiots who misbehave at ballparks...well, no, actually, I do, just a little bit. Baseball is not a violent game, but every time you have one of these beanball incidents, you raise the blood-lust level at the park. The Royals/Sox game where Laz Diaz was attacked featured a beanball dispute in the *first inning*. It isn't the root cause, but it sets a tone for the evening for a group largely filled with young, single males whose discretionary income is wasted on watery beer.
Look, is the pitcher's right to hit batters part of the game, or not? If it is, then Tino shouldn't charge the mound, should he? He just has to wait for his pitcher to drill the other guy, and then it's over, isn't it?
Somebody has to explain to the players that all this machismo posturing is bad for the game, and bad for public safety. Think of it as you might the advisories tourists used to receive before traveling abroad about wearing baseball caps and sneakers. Before they became the global uniform, it was a sure-fire way to be branded an American tourist, which wasn't advisable in all parts of the world. If the game on the field is free of fighting, maybe the crowd won't be as edgy.
It's a theory, that's all.
I couldn't agree more. The aggression on field that started in spring training for goodness' sake and has continued ever since. I think that these moron fans are affected to a certain degree by the behavior modeled on the field.
The latest Chicago attacker said that he was just trying to stand out from the idiots who proceeded him. He didn't want to inflict any pain on the umpire he attacked. He just wanted to give the crowd that little bit extra. Aw, he did it for the little people; isn't that sweet? Maybe it's his temporarily idiocy defense, I don't know.
Here's mine: if you want to control violence in the sport, enforce the batter's box. The rules say:
The batter's legal position shall be with both feet within the batter's box. APPROVED RULING: The lines defining the box are within the batter's box...
A batter is out for illegal action when (a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter's box. If a batter hits a ball fair or foul while out of the batter's box, he shall be called out. Umpires should pay particular attention to the position of the batter's feet if he attempts to hit the ball while he is being intentionally passed. A batter cannot jump or step out of the batter's box and hit the ball.
If the umpires enforce the batter's box, i.e., the back line, the inner line, the whole enchilada, then you wouldn't see batters standing on top of the plate, who would have to be brushed back on a regular basis to keep them honest. Batters now feel that they own the plate and are enraged, like Thomas in the ump-attack game, whenever a pitcher has the temerity to assert himself on the inside half of the plate.
Besides how often can you even see the box after the first inning? Prevent batters from rubbing out the batter's box lines and if they are successful anyway, have it redrawn.
Maybe enforcing the batter's box won't do a darn thing, but it's cheaper for the owners than cutting beer sales or hiring extra security and it's less intrusive than partitions around the playing field. Besides with the popular backlash against home runs, enforcing the batter's box should help reduce the number of home runs hit. And then we won't have to hear about steroids. No matter how you look at it, it's a win-win decision.