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California and the West | MIKE DOWNEY

Animals in Zoos Behave Better Than Some Baseball Fans

May 24, 2000|MIKE DOWNEY

A few years ago, a couple from Burbank got caught doing something sexually frisky at a Dodger Stadium baseball game. It isn't necessary to go into any details. Let's just say it was a new way of looking at an outfield fly.

An arrest was made, a court appearance was held and these "fans" were banned from the ballpark for a year. Dodger officials simply couldn't tolerate such behavior, particularly because it wasn't even Free Tote Bag and Feel Free to Have Sex in the Stands Night at the park.

On May 1 of this year, a 24-year-old boob from Bellflower decided to leap over the fence, run onto the Dodgers' field and drop his pants. He ended up in a courtroom Monday, getting a much-deserved slap on the . . . uh, wrist.

In the meantime, on May 16, a goofball attending a baseball game in Chicago decided that he wanted a souvenir--a Dodger baseball cap. So he went and got one. Unfortunately, he got it right off a Dodger's head.

A number of angry Dodgers went into the stands and a catcher was photographed with his mitts around a fan's throat. It was his hat, after all. In baseball lingo, rather than sacrifice, he decided to squeeze.

Don't you miss the days when the only nuts you found at baseball games were the shelled ones in bags?

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Let's take a look at these "fan" incidents, as we ponder whether baseball will be able to keep pace with two rapidly expanding statistical categories--balls hit out of the park and fools thrown out of the park.

Consider the pants prank.

A fan runs onto the field, interrupts a televised game and displays his buttocks-- revealing more red meat than Vin Scully advertises in a Farmer John commercial--and what is his punishment?

Well, for disrupting a sporting event, Andrew James Tellers, 24, of Bellflower was ordered this week to pay a fine of $810. This is apparently the going rate for men who expose themselves in public before a crowd that includes children.

Why did he do it?

Because the pitcher on the mound was the fool on the hill, John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves, whose inflammatory comments about minorities, New Yorkers, etc., had made him baseball's leading candidate for Least Valuable Player.

But whereas what Rocker did was distasteful, he did not break any laws, as this fan did. Rocker was not even an employer whose remarks could be constituted as demonstrating discrimination, to answer those who wonder why a Dodger executive was once fired for racial insensitivity while Rocker was merely suspended.

The fan who mooned Rocker said outside court that he was given the option of having his fine reduced by half, had he agreed to not attend a Dodger game for a year.

"I would rather pay the double fine," Cheap Seat Tellers said, "just so I could go to more Dodger games."

Oh, goody. Let's all be sure to bring our binoculars.

If you think about it, there is something a tad unfair about the punishment meted out to that moony-eyed couple who misbehaved in the stands, compared with the fan who mooned the player. The couple didn't leave their seats. The couple didn't halt the game. They just had a bizarre interpretation of the seventh-inning stretch.

Much harsher penalties should be given to fans who disobey spoken and posted instructions not to trespass. You never see anybody run onto a basketball court. Why are baseball fans so bold?

Because they are only going to pay $810 fines, that's why.

Just watch, the Dodgers who went into the stands May 16 at Wrigley Field will be dealt with more severely than the fans who got arrested for causing the flap in the first place.

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Three men--ages 31, 32 and 20--will go to court in June on charges of disorderly conduct. But so much of baseball's conduct is disorderly. There are city zoos with better-

behaved animals.

Several Dodgers violated an "unwritten law" by fighting fans in the stands. One of the opposing Chicago players actually was quoted as saying: "If a fan comes on the field, he's fair game. Go ahead and pummel him."

Well, bravo for the Dodgers who hit back. How much abuse should they take, just because a baseball fan buys a ticket? Who wrote that other "unwritten law," that the customer is always right? Some customers are incredibly wrong.

That includes the ones who run onto the field, making rear ends of themselves.

Mike Downey's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Write to him at Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. E-mail: mike.downey@latimes.com

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