Bahn: Let's Hope One Baum Stadium Overreaction Doesn't Lead to Another

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Apr. 18, 2011 10:00 am  

Mississippi State left fielder Brent Brownlee gives an obscene gesture to the crowd at Razorback Stadium following Sunday's game. Brownlee was suspended for his gesture. (Photo by Twitter, @espn963)

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Consider a March 18 item from KFSM 5NEWS Sports in which Mike Irwin writes that a Delaware State outfielder endured racial slurs from Razorback fans. It got so bad that the player complained and got an apology the next day from Arkansas officials, including Coach Dave Van Horn.

Isolated, abhorrent incident? Perhaps.

But the more apologies and suspensions given out stemming from actions inside the Hog Pen, the harder it is for the folks in charge to look away. Suddenly, it becomes a lot easier to get restrictive. Would it be unreasonable for the school to begin restricting alcohol consumption and beef up security in the outfield after two public incidents?

An Arkansas public relations official did not immediately respond to a request Sunday night for comment and a clarification regarding policies in the outfield. Presumably, hurling insults at opponents isn’t encouraged. But like those red solo cups full of beer, it’s not explicitly outlawed, either.

So you get situations like Sunday where a fan with a head full of insults — and possibly a belly full of beer — taunts an opposing player. Then the player reacts back.

Granted, Brownlee should have known better than to do what he did. It was immature. Of course we don’t know what he put up with throughout the weekend. If his playing ability was in question, then he overreacted. If he truly was getting threats of physical violence, then it becomes more serious.

That’s where fans have to police each other. If you hear it getting over the line, let somebody know.

Heckling at the ballpark isn’t a bad thing. It’s tradition. It can be done with class and in a way that’s fun for the hecklers and hecklees. Check the crew on the third base side at Baum. The only thing they’re drunk on is their enthusiasm for baseball. And their insults are clean, but typically get the job done.

Beer at the ballpark doesn’t have to be a bad thing either. It also seems to be a tradition for folks at baseball games.

Combine the two and occasionally you get what happened Sunday. Hopefully, this is an incident everybody can learn from.

So put your fingers in the air — and cross them — that this ends here. Nobody wants a few insults and a couple of “knee-jerk” reactions to spoil the fun for everybody.



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