12.02.2005

Boston Wants the Ball; Mientkidnapper should give it up

I don't recall if I ever wrote on this last year but I think Mientkwicz should return the ball to the team. I understand that the legal precedence is that the player grabs the ball and usually take off and keep it. But really, the ball belongs to the MLB and its time they start to recognize it and enforce it. This would be a good start to do before the 2006 season.

This, of course, leads into a topic regarding the Giants: Bonds 715 ball and, perhaps, 756 ball. We are all familar with the scrums that erupt whenever Bonds hits any homerun ball of historical significance. I don't know if the boy was lying - I'll accept his word - but there was a sobbing teenage boy on TV distraught over how some grown men overpowered him for a ball (can recall which one). Then there is the spectacle of some "humble" unemployed man, lording over all because he had the ball, telling everyone what he's going to do with it, and how he's sharing none of it because he "deserves" it (I think he's the one where the boy was crying) whereupon his employed friends who gave him the ticket to the game sued him for a cut.

This is where MLB has fallen down on the job, like the wild fans reaching for their jackpot ball. The ball belongs to the MLB. It is by their largese that the fans gets their souvenir. They needed to set the rules of acceptable behavior when such a historic ball is up for grab.

They can put up the rules for behavior and start passing it out to people going through the turnstile. They can put it into every book and magazine the MLB publishes and sells. They can broadcast it over the speakers before the game. They can put it into every game broadcast for TV and radio, just like "This broadcast is a copyrighted blah de blah blah, de blah blah" that they have the announcers read off every game. They can play the message right after the National Anthem. Not all have to be done forever, but since the rules have been quasi-known, unknown, they need to make the legal effort to make sure everyone, I mean EVERYONE, knows the rules.

They should have thought about this during McGwire-Sosa race to 62. The craziness after that went up to 70 homers should have rang a bell in their heads that something is not right. Each subsequent craziness since then with each of Barry's milestones should have made them think about it. And yet, still nothing.

Suggestions

I'm no lawyer and I don't feel like spending a great amount of time thinking more about it - obviously I've been thinking about this for a while now. Here are some ideas on rules they should institute:
  • People are allowed to bring their gloves.
  • People are not allowed to get up out of their seats for balls.
  • People are not allowed to get out of their seats for balls.
  • People are not allowed to reach into other people's seats to get a ball.
  • People are not allowed to hit other people while trying to get a ball.
  • Anyone not following the rules are kicked out of the game and lose all rights to any ball they may have gotten, through the kindness of major league baseball - children under 10 are exempt from leaving their seat but must follow the rules on courtesy above.
  • There will be cameras catching the action, the Ball Police will be viewing the replay to catch people who flaggrantly did not follow the rules - obviously, human nature being what it is (Steve Bartman addendum), some natural reactions will cause some people to violate the rules above. The Ball Police will have the power to enforce or not, depending on what they think was the intent of the violator.
  • In any case, the ball belongs to the MLB, we have the right to refuse to allow a person to leave the park with one of our balls.

Hopefully, this way, the ball is a pachinko machine ball, bouncing around. If you are lucky enough that it is near you and you can glove it, great, else it gets to bounce around to the feet of some lucky person. There probably needs to be rules governing people out of their seats, probably like the NBA, you need to set your position and not move from that spot in trying to get the ball. The objective is to discourage people from chasing the ball all over the place just to get it.

Grown Men, Pleuth!

I'm going to end with a perfect example of why this rule is necessary even in regular games. A ball is hit into the stands, a child about 5-7 years old goes for the ball but a grown man around his mid-20's proudly leaves his seat and slamdunked the kid to get the ball. It is all captured by the TV cameras. The child is inconsolable in the arms of the parent. The crowd is booing the guy. He acknowledges the booing and mugs for the camera, very proud of his behavior, as his girlfriend/wife looks at the jerk sitting next to her with disdain, but not enough disdain to make him give up the ball. He holds the ball up as a trophy of his triumph, his arms outstretched.

In a perfect world, the Ball Police picks his sorry ass up and kicks him out of the stadium and take the ball away and gives it to the child. While the crowd cheers on...

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