Assault and Battery

Friday 17 Sep 2004

This one's going to be simple: there is some controversy over an incident at a recent baseball game (here is the most current article at time of this writing).

Two things are certain, in my opinion: 1) the player was wrong for hurling a chair at fans, and 2) the woman who got hit is going to seek far more money than she deserves, thanks to the idiotic and convoluted legal system in the U.S. If I was king of the universe, my judgement would be as follows:

First, the player would be tried and punished for the crime (whatever it is classified as) of throwing a metal chair at a person, and would get whatever fine and/or sentence you or I would get if we did the same thing.

Second, the woman who got hit would be made to list all medical costs - hospital bill, recurring damages, whatever - and this would be declared, verified as accurate, and set in stone; the amount would then be paid to her, and her involvement would end. In other words, punish the baseball player just like any normal person, and pay the woman what she's owed, but not the millions she'll probably try to get out of this. A broken nose isn't that big a deal - I got one playing softball a few years ago, and I was back on the field (bandaged, with a swollen nose and two black eyes) the very next night. It's survivable. This woman shouldn't be allowed to bleed the player's bank account dry. She needs to be compensated for all of her medical costs and missed work, if she has any, and it should end right there...none of this "I have emotional trauma and fear of flying chairs, and I'll require a million dollars to cope with that" idiocy.

Third, the people who were taunting and insulting the players would be found guilty of "inciting to riot in a public forum". That is what is mostly missing in this. Just as the players should be held as accountable for their actions as if they were ordinary people, so too should the crowd be held responsible for *their* actions. If they shouted the same things to Joe Sixpack in a bar, they'd get their teeth busted, and rightly so . . . but they feel they have the right to do so at a game. Why?

(Editor's note: A Sports Illustrated writer just published a column agreeing with Thomas's third point . . . the first I've seen decrying the fans' behavior.)