Make On-Field Brawls Punishable By Law

I was so disgusted I almost turned off the TV.

FOX Sports had just zoomed in on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, watching themselves on a flat screen monitor during game three between the Yankees and Red Sox Saturday night.

Don't they get enough of themselves? And what's with the monitor?  They were practically on the field!

Little did I know there was plenty more to come to insult, disgust and anger me.

By now we've all heard and seen, ad nauseum, what took place in Boston, so there's no need to review the dispicable event in this space, but I do have a question:

When will on-the-field brawls or threats of physical violence -- in this case, some involving baseball bats -- be considered criminal behavior and those involved held legally accountable?

In my "non-legal expert" opinion (I'm no Judge Andrew Napolitano or Greta Van Susteren), pitchers Pedro Martinez and Jeff Nelson, outfielders Manny Ramirez and Karim Garcia, Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer and Fenway Park groundskeeper Paul Williams should have all been led away in handcuffs.

The following charges should have been made: Martinez for inciting a riot, Zimmer for attempted battery on Martinez, Ramirez for threatening Roger Clemens with a deadly weapon -- a baseball bat -- and Garcia, Nelson and Williams for battering each other in the bullpen.

It doesn't appear any of the above will happen.

You see, only spectators who fight within ball parks or enter the field of play are subject to arrest -- at least here in America. You might remember Dave Winfield was arrested and charged for cruelty to animals in Canada in 1983 for throwing a ball that hit and killed a seagull.

So then players can deliberately throw at a person's head, but not accidentally at birds?  Incidentally, those charges were dropped the next day.

Simply put, it's because the players in Major League Baseball, or any other professional sport, bring far too much money to their respective cities for local authorities to take such drastic-- dare I say lawful -- measures, and it is unfair.

Professional athletes have a lot more money with which to defend themselves or pay fines, then say, the pizza guy who drank too much beer and ended up being arrested for getting into a fistfight with a fan rooting for the other team.

But stuffing city coffers isn't the only reason players aren't subjected to the same laws as you and I.

Imagine the loss of money to the television networks, sports pages, Major League Baseball and stadium vendors if the game was called because the starting pitcher was arrested and carted off the field?

But all of that still doesn't make it right.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said that if the incident had happened in New York, Martinez would have been arrested, essentially for throwing around an old man.

"If that happened in New York we would have arrested the perpetrator," Bloomberg said. "Nobody should throw a 70-year-old man to the ground, period. ... You just cannot assault people, even if it's on a baseball field," the mayor said.

In a city where smoking is banned in bars that serve alcohol for "health" reasons, that absurd statement doesn't come as much of a surprise.

Should New Yorkers require proof of age from an attacker before defending themselves? Bloomberg has since backed off on the rhetoric.

Look, Saturday was not tragic. Nobody got hurt too badly and it certainly made for great television.

But therein lies the problem.

Baseball is supposed to be a civilized game. That is not to say there is no place for heated rivalry, but since when does competition mean violence?

Now, I am the last person to pull the violence card, having trained in martial arts and wrestled as a sport my whole life.  But on the mat we're expected to punch, kick or throw each other around.

Nor do I believe that America has become too "violence obsessed."  If I don't want my kids to play violent video games or watch certain movies or television, I'll say no.

But what of the kids who don't have responsible parents or guardians watching over them?

Is it Major League Baseball's responsibility to look out for viewers? Or is it the networks? The answer is both.

I find it curious that sports producers make editorial decisions to not show fans when they run on to the field, for fear of encouraging others to do the same, but when a brawl breaks out on the field it's replayed over and over and over again.

As a television producer I understand why it's done.  At that point, it becomes irresponsible and unfair to the viewers not to repeat the incident.

But I think that perhaps a warning from the announcers or a graphic on the screen that calls for "parental discretion" should be incorporated when such unpredictable incidents are taking place on the field.

As far as MLB is concerned, Martinez and Garcia, at the very least, should have been suspended from playing more post-season baseball this season. The same should have gone for Roger Clemens when he beaned Mets catcher Mike Piazza in the head three years ago.

If that had happened, Saturday's embarrassing incident would have been avoided.

Now Play Ball!

Mike Straka is the project manager for FOX News' Internet operations and contributes as a features reporter and producer on FOX Magazine (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC) and as a reporter and columnist for 

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