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"So, I was sitting at my desk today, putting the final touches on the
latest Transaction Analysis by Chris Kahrl, when out of the blue, I
felt someone jump on my back. I was able to shake him off, and I’m OK
except for a few cuts and bruises. Just another day at the office, I
guess."

Absurd, right? Unless, of course, you’re a mouth-breathing imbecile from
South Beloit, Ill. with a penchant for jumping people from behind while
they work. That was what Bill Spiers of the Houston Astros had to
put up with Friday night. The "fan", whose name has been withheld
(presumably until he sobers up and remembers it), leaped out of the
right-field seats and attacked Spiers in bottom of the sixth inning during
the game at Milwaukee County Stadium.

Spiers, who presumably wasn’t cautioned about this during his on-the-job
training as an outfielder this year, overcame his initial shock at the
attack and was able to escape with minor injuries, notably a sore neck.
He’ll miss a couple of games. The idiot, who was set upon rapidly by the
remaining Astros, was arrested and is still in the custody of Milwaukee
police, awaiting charges.

Now, our criminal justice system doesn’t have much provision for the death
penalty for a relatively minor assault. But I sincerely hope the
Brewers–and Spiers, if he chooses–do everything in their power to see
that this clown spends at least some time in jail, and pays a hefty fine.
What he did was relatively minor–demanding a piggyback ride from a right
fielder probably isn’t an executable offense–but it’s the potential for
what he could have done, the terrifying "What if?", that
demands strong action by the authorities.

Baseball players–basketball players, as well–play in close proximity to
large crowds with almost no safety net between them and the lunatic fringe.
We laugh at the occasional streaker, or cheer the sudden appearance of
Morganna on the field. How often do we think of Gunther Parche, who
irreparably damaged the career of tennis star Monica Seles? How
often do we think of the death threats athletes like Cal Ripken and
Hank Aaron endured as they approached hallowed records?

If you’re standing in center field, 50 yards from the nearest aid and with
only a heavy piece of leather and a can of chewing tobacco on your person,
you need to know with absolute certainty that no one is going to come up
behind you and threaten your safety. Professional athletes work in front of
crowds, and the only way that works is if those athletes can feel safe
among those crowds. For the sake of those athletes, and those of us who
enjoy watching them unemcumbered by fences or walls, I implore the Brewers,
the Milwaukee authorities and major league baseball to make an example of
the idiot from Illinois.