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About Jon
Thank You For Not ...

1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
8) making the same point over and over again
9) typing "no-hitter" or "perfect game" to describe either in progress
10) being annoyed by the existence of this list
11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

Frontier Justice in the Park
2003-05-06 09:05
by Jon Weisman

A 95-mile-per-hour fastball races at your skull thisfast. Instinctively you duck away, the baseball slamming into your shoulder, branding you like cattle at the Double-R Rawlings Ranch.

In the next moment - the moment just after you realize how much pain you are in - judge and jury synapses in your brain render a verdict: That pitcher tried to hit you on purpose. He hurt you with an intentional act.

In response, you could charge the mound. You could make a conscious decision to do this, or it could be as instinctive as your move to duck away from the fastball in the first place.

In either case, what can you hope to accomplish?

1) You might hurt the pitcher back. But frankly, the chances of that are slim. You may be a burly sort with Popeye arms, but you're no fighter. Think about all the baseball brawls in our lifetimes. How many times has someone actually exacted physical revenge on a beanballer? Usually, the batter is intercepted before reaching the pitcher. If the batter does reach the pitcher, he rarely has the skill and time to inflict any real damage.

2) You might show the team, the fans, the media, the history books, your family, that you're not going to take this crap lying down. You're sending a message, but it's less about the pitcher than about yourself. You are a man, Old West style. You give a damn. Of course, you're in pretty sad shape if your manhood and your team's belief in you or itself depend on what happens when you are hit by a pitch.

3) You might intimidate the pitcher enough that he will be frightened from pitching you inside at all. However, have you ever known that to work, either?

4) It's a catharsis.

None of the above reasons are compelling ones. Whether you're a pacifist or a hawk, I don't see how you could find any benefit to seeing someone you support charge the mound.

Whereas, there are obvious drawbacks:

1) You risk suspension.

2) A third party is more likely to get hurt than the pitcher.

3) It's morally wrong.

That's right. It doesn't matter how intentional a hit-by-pitch is. A pitcher could throw a fastball at your head with a note taped to it, flapping in the fastball breeze, that says, "Let the record show that I'm doing this on purpose." It would still be wrong to charge the mound.

Baseball isn't the frontier. There are officers and judges. They are called umpires and Bob Watson. And however much or little you respect their opinions, by becoming a Major League baseball player, you have agreed to abide by them. They are in charge. They are the law.

We have all felt rage and pain. We can all remember times when the feeling of our blood boiling has been much more reality than metaphor to us. We can in fact imagine how it would have felt to be as ferociously angry as Mike Piazza. But we can also all imagine how to deal with that anger.

Self-defense is one thing when you're on your own, but vigilantism has no place in a supervised arena, whether it's in the bleachers when someone spills beer on you, or on the field when someone tries to spill your brains. Not even a victim should be above the law. It's up to the people in charge to administer punishment.

As we head into the Mike Piazza-Guillermo Mota reuinion, it seems clear that no one really wants a fight, other than that segment of baseball fans who are somehow willing to pay $49.95 to watch that sham of a sport, professional boxing. Regardless, it's a good time for people, on the field and off, to really evaluate charging the mound. It makes no sense on any level, logically or emotionally.

Let's grow up.

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