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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Jon Garland delivers with 8IP, 1ER against the TigersThis is a White Sox blog, and it will remain one, but I had to get something off my chest. I'll write about Garland's excellent outing tomorrow after the game.

* * * * *

By now you've seen the clip of Gary Sheffield attempting to shove a fan. This is the same fan who was, depending on who you believe, going for a ball, or deliberately trying to harm Sheffield. The fan was disciplined, losing his tickets for the rest of the season.

Message sent. MLB to fans: Don't mess with players. Don't interfere with balls in play. Don't even appear to be messing with players. Penalties will be steep.

Good, I hate dipshit fans. The less of them at the ballpark, the better. The problem, at least as it seems to me, is in Bud Selig and MLB's treatment of Gary Sheffield. Quoting Selig:
"We do not condone any interaction between fans and players whether initiated by either fans or players." "I am pleased that Gary Sheffield showed restraint in not overreacting to the improper and clearly aggressive action of the fan in question."
Message sent: Star players don't worry. You'll actually get a commendation for "restraint" so long as you don't do anything too harmful.

The incident at Fenway was eerily similar to one last year involving Milton Bradley. A fan threw a bottle at Bradley, who's known worldwide to be volatile, and he reacted almost exactly like Sheffield did. He confronted the fan, but didn't get into an altercation, slamming the plastic bottle on the ground. MLB's ruling? Five game suspension, in the middle of a pennant race.

To me the hypocrisy is clear. Bradley's incident occurred before both the Frankie Francisco affair and the NBA's Ron Artest mess. It wasn't anything major, but warranted a suspension. MLB acted accordingly. Sheffield's incident occurred after all of that, and even though it was remarkably similar to Bradley's case, no action will be taken against Sheffield.

To me, this isn't just a case of MLB showing favoritism; it's a case where they can show selective enforcement of non-existent league rules. It's a case where they actually let the NBA's suspension do the deterring for them. You know Ron Artest, Frankie Francisco, and Milton Bradley, were in the back of Sheff's mind as soon as he calmed down and realized what had happened. You could actually argue that Sheff didn't go into the stands because of the penalties handed down by David Stern and the NBA. I don't think Sheff had time to think about Artest's suspension before he was shoving the fan, but you could argue that he did, if that's what floats your boat.

The penalty against Sheff didn't have to be steep, a few games at most. It just had to be a deterrent. Instead, Selig and MLB have, much like the steroid issue, turned blind eye on something that obviously needs to be dealt with. Every athlete needs to be subject to the same penalties for their actions. This applies to the steroid policy too, which won't be validated in fans' eyes until it actually catches a player they've heard of before.

Suspend Sheffield, even if just for a game, and catch a "name" player with the steroid policy, and you just might instill confidence in the game, Bud. Status quo won't cut it anymore.

* * * * *

Finally, someone with more time on their hands than me dug through the baseball record books to find the last 99 minute baseball game. I can't really give any specific person credit for finding this info, but to whomever had the arduous task of digging through box scores over at the Elias Sports Bureau, thank you. Via Yahoo! (AP report)
When the Chicago White Sox beat the visiting Seattle Mariners 2-1 Saturday in 1 hour, 39 minutes, it was the fastest nine-inning game in the major leagues in 21 years, since the Atlanta Braves beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 on Sept. 30, 1984, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That game, at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on the final day of the regular season, also took 99 minutes.
21 years is a long time. -- I'd be willing to bet about half of the people who read this site haven't seen their 21st birthday, just for comparison's sake. -- Now get to work and find me the last game that was faster done in under 99 minutes. You've got a head start; it was sometime before September 30th, 1984. Chop chop.

Speaking of well pitched games, it should come as no surprise as to who has the two best pitched games in the AL so far.