For as long as I’ve been following baseball, I continue to be dumbfounded by fan behavior. And I’m not even talking about losers running on the field to assault someone or those who ransom souvenirs emblematic of someone else’s achievement. That’s just part of the dysfunctional times we live in.
And I’m not talking about fans who still yell “balk” whenever a pitcher fakes a throw to a base. That’s just impossibly technical stuff for a lot of fans.
But I am talking about something that is really, really basic.
Fans, even those who bring their own gloves, shouldn’t be going after a ball in play. But they do; again and again. As if it were a front-row entitlement. And sometimes, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing, it can help determine a game’s outcome.
So, how’s this for a concept? Only someone who is actually PLAYING — not someone who bought a ticket to watch others play — is permitted to field or attempt to field a ball in play. It doesn’t get more fundamental than that.
Maybe the front row of seats in areas that abut the playing field should be left vacant. Perhaps Plexiglas shields should be erected as in hockey.
Or maybe nothing should be done, because baseball needs all the reasons it can muster to induce fans to come to the ballparks, including a chance to lend a hand and land a souvenir. That, ultimately, is the ticket.