unishment for Dodgers appropriate action

I was on SportsCenter the other day. OK, so as one guys 15 minutes of fame go, this isnt exactly a triumph, but thats not the point.
It was a beautiful day for baseball – a sunny Wednesday afternoon. Wrigley Field was preparing for yet another summer of major league baseball, and the ivy in center field was turning dark green.
I sat up the first base line, about seven rows behind the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen. The beer vendors were plentiful and quick, the wind was blowing out, and by the fifth inning the Cubs were behind. Everything was right with the world.
Then everything changed.
We sang Take me out to the ball game during the seventh-inning stretch, but Haray Caray wasnt there. And when the Cubs staged a dramatic, bottom-of-the-ninth rally, I shouldve known something was amiss.
As dusk fell, the park had cooled, and fans fortified themselves with more Budweiser and Old Style. The wind and the Dodgers relief pitching allowed Chicago to get back in the game. Things were about to get surreal.
And when someone named Julio Zuleta hit a bloop single to left to pull the cuddly bears within a run with runners at the corners and one down, the fit hit the shan.
A fan, admittedly at least a few Old Styles past charming and confident, reached over the famous Wrigley Field brick wall and appropriated himself a souvenir.
Unfortunately, the inebriated fans commemorative Dodger cap belonged to Los Angeles bullpen catcher Chad Kreuter.
Kreuter had a few options. He could turn and point the man out to security. He could flip the guy the finger and forget about it. He could gesture to his crotch or salsa dance on top of the wall for all I care. What he did do was inexcusable.
Evidently forgetting he was a millionaire, and that the Dodgers equipment man would undoubtedly be more than happy to get him a replacement cap, Kreuter went berserk.
Without hesitation, a guy who is paid an obscene amount of money to play catch in the bullpen wheeled and tore into the Wrigley stands after the fan, who was trying to escape with the hat.
Kreuter caught the offender, and their brief struggle incited Cubs fans in the stands to come to their fellow fans aid.
The melee was on.
Dodgers from the bullpen, field and dugout poured into the right-field grandstands about four rows from where I was standing. Punches were thrown on both sides. Beer rained down from the stands. Fans in the bleachers, upset they were trapped far away from the action, tossed all manner of debris on the field.
Nearly a week later Major League Baseball put the smack down on the Dodgers, suspending 19 players and coaches for periods ranging from three to eight games.
Much has been said since, claiming baseball is becoming much too harsh in suspending players. Some have said the penalties will have an undue influence on the pennant race.
I agree suspensions have become too much of a knee-jerk reaction, (read: John Rocker, Pedro Martinez) but in this case baseball is absolutely, positively, dead-on correct.
Players cannot break the spell and go lumbering up into the stands. Much as some of us consider baseball, or whatever game you prefer, more of a religion or rite of passage than entertainment, thats what it is in the final analysis.
In an age where children are reared on professional wrestling, the boundaries of sports must be made even clearer than ever.
There was a time when those lines could blur. Fans at Wrigleyville bars could drink with players after the games. Young children could hang over the walls and collect autographs. But that was a simpler, more polite time.
Unfortunate as it seems, the walls must be bigger, if not literally, then figuratively. I love baseball. But Id rather watch the game from afar than watch Vince McMahons version of baseball.
[italic on]Josh Linehan welcomes comments at [italic off][italic on][email protected][italic off]