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Sheffield takes shot at a fan

Gary Sheffield chases a grounder in the corner. Fan appears to take a swipe at him, but doesn’t hit him. Really, isn’t even close. Sheffield takes a swipe back. Also doesn’t make a lot of contact.

If you think Ron Artest was wrong… then Gary Sheffield was wrong. Yes, the two incidents were of a far different magnitude, but I think the one immutable truth remains that you absolutely cannot attempt to physically hit a fan. No matter what happens.

Artest was hit with a beer. Sheffield was not hit at all. Both reacted by attempting to hit a fan, and I’m sorry, but you can’t do that. I know it’s a natural reaction. I know it’s instinct. But you’ve got to hold back. For the good of the game, for your own good, you cannot let your brain make that reaction.

It’s not the same as me or you being in a bar, and someone taking a swing at us. Gary Sheffield and Ron Artest are paid employees of their respective organizations, and it is their responsibility to represent their team, their league, and their sport, and it is their responsibility to do what is best for the game. I don’t care what happens to them… they have to suck it up and take it, and get security to do their job. At the end of the day, that’s what’s best for the game.

I’m not hating on Gary Sheffield, I’m not saying he’s a bad guy… but I think he was wrong. I think he should’ve turned around, threw the ball, and then got security. You can’t take a shot at a fan. Period. And I’m not saying that fan doesn’t deserve to get punched… he does. He’s an idiot, and if Sheffield ended up whaling on his face, I’d still only be upset with Sheff for doing something that will ultimately only hurt the game. I’d have no sympathy for the fan.

And again… after the incident, ESPN crews are talking about how it’s understandable, and how it’s cool for Sheff to take a shot at that guy. It happened with Artest, and it happened with Sheffield. The ESPN guys who said it was fine for Artest to go into the stands were reprimanded… the same won’t happen to Harold Reynolds and Larry Bowa. I think we’re about to see a massive double standard in how society reacts to issues in baseball vs. issues in basketball.


  1. Maybe you should watch it again, Tito. Sheff was hit with beer, and, initially, just pushed the guy away, and threw the ball in.

    Then, Sheff cocked back, and all the Red Sox fans, including the one that threw the beer, ran like a bitch and fell down in the process.

    This is a little different than Ron Artest, who climbed into the stands and started beating the piss out of people.

    In addition, this happened during the course of play. Sheff was fielding a ball. Artest, for some reason, was lying on the scorer’s table. I’m sure the people who sit at the scorer’s table really appreciated Artest’s sweaty ass on their stat sheet.

    Again…different than this situation. What Sheff did and what Artest did could not be further apart.

    I’m pretty sure had this happened in the NBA, the fan is probably getting decked.

  2. Speaking of the NBA brawl, and I’m not sure I haven’t mentioned this before, remember how the dude came out on the court and got punched by Jermaine O’Neal, and everyone said once you come out onto the court you are “fair-game”? Why wasn’t Ron Artest “fair-game” when he went into the stands? The dude that like, punched him in the side of the arm in the stands is getting a misdemeanor while Jermaine O’Neal should have a felony assault conviction right now.

  3. It’s not different. Take a shot at a fan is taking a shot at a fan, no matter where his feet actually are when he did it. The magnitude is different, but the action is the same. I don’t see what difference it makes if it happens in the course of play or not. He’s still in uniform, there’s still a game going on.

    And you being pretty sure that the fan is getting decked if this happened in the NBA is a perfect example of the double standard I’m talking about. For some reason, you’re assuming that the athletes in the NBA are more prone to violence. I’d like to ask Jermaine O’Neal what he thought of your assessment there.

    If someone calculated the number of fights per game in the NBA vs. MLB, I’m pretty sure MLB is winning easily. It’s exceptionally rare that an NBA player, during a game, throws an actual punch. Seems like someone charges the mound in baseball every week.

  4. Babu Babu

    By your reasoning, if I take a swing at a bouncer at a bar (a paid employee of his respective organization) than it would be wrong for him to swing back?

    Boston fans are a bunch of goddam hooligans, Scheff had every reason to take a swing at that guy, Scheff was still on the field, didn’t run into the stands, and got hit by some punk ass Masshole. Its the umps that screwed this one up (I’m also blaming Tom Gordon who I think may still be on Boston’s payroll judging by how he pitches against them)…that was fan intereference, runner should have stopped at first and all other runners where they were.
    Typical Massholes

  5. No, because it’s a bouncer’s job to beat your ass if you step out of line. That’s what he’s paid to do. Gary Sheffield is not paid to be a bouncer, he’s paid to play baseball, represent his team and his league. The bouncer’s job is to protect the bar, its image, and its patrons. The bouncer does what’s best for the bar, Sheffield does what’s best for the game. One really doesn’t have much to do with the other.

    And I wanna make it clear again that I don’t think Sheff is a bad guy. He showed some restraint. I’d like for him to not have gone back at the fan at all, but it’s hard to tell if it was just a shove or an attempted punch… I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But still, punching, or even shoving a fan who hasn’t come on to the field of play is wrong. Always.

  6. Anonymous Anonymous

    “Old School” here again MJD and sorry, I’ve gotta disagree witcha. Full disclosure though: I am a lifelong (through the sh*tty late sixties and early seventies) Yankee fan. You’ll also remember, I backed Artest too (in the face of much criticism). I give you this from Boston Dirt Dogs; THE Boston Red Sox fan site:

    Apr 15, 2005:


    While some friendly House (the guy who swung at Sheff) calls are rolling into WEEI to defend their friend, season ticket holders are also calling in with damaging tales regarding the seven-ticket season ticket holder and former Curry College football coach’s trouble making, fight picking, and excessive drinking in the seven seats he holds tickets for. One ticket holder chimes in: “one of them passed out during Opening Day, another one fell on the stairs getting up. It’s up and down every inning, two beers. Last summer when I went, and I’m afraid now to give them (my tickets) to clients because I don’t want families going out there to be abused by these guys. The language got so bad on opening day, it became racial at the end, sorry Mike (Holley), it’s a disgrace. They stack the beers up. My 12 and 14 year old daughters said last year during one Yankees game said “hey dad, they’ve got 16 cups stacked up” and it’s just not appropriate… I’ve sent an email to the Red Sox, letting them know what’s going on. I, as a business owner, my partner and I, we’re afraid to give tickets to clients to bring their kids in there to be subjected to this abuse. I don’t know what the intention of the individual was last night, but I know it was alcohol induced.”

    Hothead History: “Assistant coach Chris House ran on the field, and grabbed the linesman to alert him. Startled, he assessed a 15-yard penalty against MIT (thereby granting Curry a first down). As the linesman walked away, House called him a “fat boy” and another 15-yard penalty was assessed.” — Curry College incident

    No House Arrest

    Chris Avoids the Big House as Sox Won’t Press Charges Against Phony Fan
    Video, Spin Control Too Tough for Boston Brass to Challenge
    House Friends Pass Windmill Story, Refuting Fiancee

    House of Cards Comes Tumbling Down

    House told girlfriend he was “going for the ball.” But his friend who “spoke to Chris this morning” tells WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan that House told him he was “doing the windmill” to wave the runners around. Yeah right. Delusionial fanboys say he was trying to catch his friend who looked like he was falling on the field. Or maybe House was telling the other fans to pull their hands up (even though the ball was right in front of Chris at that point and well past other fans). Spin city continues for townie who got caught taking a sneaky cheap shot on Sheff… more House friends calling ‘EEI with new windmill excuse “he was waving Tek around… he’s a great fan, he went to World Series games last year, he’s a great athlete… he would call you guys in a minute (D&C) but he wants to talk to Red Sox management right now”..

    That’s from the most partisan (and most popular) Sox site on the web.

    Ideally, a player should NEVER go after a fan–but we are human beings. Artest was laying on the scorer’s table. Prone. Not f*cking with anyone. Not jawing at the crowd. Laying there, albeit stupidly, but laying there. And from some twenty-five feet away, some drunken stumblebum decides to shoot a three using his cup o’ suds as the ball and Artest’s chest as the hoop. Ka-ba-sploooosh! I don’t care who you are or where you are, but if you’re just lying there and suddenly a liter of beer explodes onto your gut, your first reaction is almost guaranteed to be a “Who the f*ck threw this at me?” fit of pique. And for that, I understood Artest’s reaction–he went too far eventually (and his buddy Stephen Jackson was the REAL *sshole in the brawl–Jermaine O’neal is my hero or what HE did).

    Sheffield was in the midst of making a play in the climactic moment of the game when a drunken fan (the guy has told several differing stories of what he was doing…hmmmm, that smacks of truth-telling–not.) swings his hand at Sheffield and pops him (corroborated by other fans immediately nearby) in the face/head. Rule of life #319: If you are unexpectedly hit in the face from out of the blue (God forbid you get the dreaded nose-sting!), you will 1. Freak the f*ck out and 2. Immediately search for the mother f*cker who hit you so you can kill him. Sheff did both, but instead of immediately killing the alky, gave him a “What the f*ck is your problem?” shove, completed the play and THEN went to kill him…

    …and stopped. Or in the immortal words of Oran “Juice” Jones, “Instead…I chilled.” and let security handle it. He shoved the guy with his gloved hand and then according to Sheff himself, thought about the Artest/fan fight and brought it down from a boil. The fans own co-horts admit to his idiocy, he’s changed his story several times and he has a history of sporting field dumb-assery. I have NO problem with Sheff’s reaction (if anything, I’m sorta shocked he didn’t cave in House’s fronts) the same way I understood Artest’s initial reaction (notwithstanding the escalation to melee–something last night didn’t become).

    Fans can do what they like verbally–they can go off on you (outside of racial sh*t). They can diss your mama, rag on your rehab stint, trash your tendency to over-impregnate and even roast you for deaths in the family. F*cked up, but allowable. However, when someone puts their hands on you, or cravenly tosses God-kows-what at you to injure, impede or generally f*ck with you, man-to-man–all bets are off. Toss a beer at me? Pop me in the grille? House is lucky Sheff thought of how Artest’s justifable anger f*cked oway his season–“cause even people sitting where the action was felt Sheffield owed the dude a five-piece fist-nugget special.

    I’m unilateral on this, we are centuries away from when it was cool to throw rotten fruit and small dead woodland creatures at the stage when a performance displeases us. We’re better than that as fans. Leather-lungs=cool, rock-headed physical confrontationalists=not cool. I backed Artest and O’Neal…I’m backing Sheffield.

    “Old School”

  7. Old School –

    I agree with a lot of what you said. I don’t doubt for a second that the guy is a complete douchebag, and an abusive drunk to boot. I don’t think he should be allowed in a major league park again. And I never said that he doesn’t deserve to get punched… He does. In the face, repeatedly. I just don’t think it should be by Sheffield. If a security guard came down and caved the guy’s face in, I’d probably laugh about it.

    To me, it’s not an issue of whether or not Sheffield was “justified.” If a guy punched him in the face, he’s entitled to punch him back. But in this situation, he shouldn’t. He can’t. Because it’s not in the best interests of the game, the team, or himself. That’s the bottom line.

    Again, I’ll make the Artest comparison. He’s laying on the scorer’s table and gets hit with a beer. You’re right, it’s completely natural and acceptable to have the instinct to bust someone’s grill for that. But here’s why I feel like I’m right about this, and it’s pretty simple:

    If Artest elects to go into the stands, here’s what happens: A riot ensues, people get hurt and arrested, Artest himself gets publicly embarrassed and banned for a year, costing his team a shot at an NBA championship. And the NBA suffers it’s biggest public relations black eye in history.

    If Artest doesn’t go into the stands, here’s what happens: He’s laying there on the scorer’s table with beer on his jersey.

    To me, that alone makes it the right thing to do to sit there and take it. It’s in security’s hands. If they’re not doing their jobs, that’s a whole other issue. If they’re not going to protect the players, let’s work on that, not just turn the job over to rightfielders and small forwards.

    The standards for behavior and reaction are different between you and me and Ron Artest and Gary Sheffield. If someone throws a beer at me, the only thing I’m responsible for is myself. If I whoop the guy’s ass, and end up going to jail for it… it’s on me, and only me. If Gary Sheffield decides to react in the same way, what happens is on him, the Yankees, and Major League Baseball.

    And again, Gary Sheffield is not a bad guy. All things considered, if the guy hit him in the face, he did show a lot of restraint. And in his interview, he really kinda made the same point I’m making… that he saw what happened to Artest, and the end results of that aren’t worth stomping the guy out. That’s what I’m saying. Natural human emotions and reactions exist, but I think athletes have to restrain themselves. They’ve got to hold back. By going back at the guy, Sheffield risked another Artest situation. Thankfully, it didn’t get close to that point.

  8. Anonymous Anonymous

    Looks like we’re actually in agreement. What Artest did was understandable–but ill-advised considering what it precipitated and how it damaged him and the sport. Understandable AND wrong. His deeds were indeed both.

    And while I feel “Gangsta” (our bleacher nickname for the ice-grilled Sheffield) would have been perfectly justified in denting House’s dome, it was the better thing to do to NOT Sputnik the idiot’s head. I’m always reminded of the classic stand-up comic retort to hecklers when situations like this come up:

    “Hey, buddy…I’m workin’ here. Be fair, okay I mean, do I come down to your job at the bus station bathroom and slap the d*ck outta YOUR mouth? Sheesh!”

    “Old School”

  9. Sorry MJD, but comparing the Sheffield situation to the Artest one is absurd. Artest got suspended for the entire year. Sheffield likely won’t miss a game. Apples meet oranges. Not even remotely close. C’mon now.

  10. I don’t think the Artest comparison is absurd… I dunno. I’m not saying they’re the same thing, but… It’s like comparing someone backing into a telephone pole to a fifteen-car pile-up… at the end of the day, they’re both car accidents. I just think hitting a fan is something that can’t be done, under any circumstances.

  11. Yes, they both made contact with fans, but there is A TON of difference in what Sheffield did and what Artest did (as you recognized.)

    But hey, if your position is that a player can’t make contact with a fan, even when the fan recklessly reaches onto the playing field, hits the player in the mouth, during one of the most heated rivalry in sports, in a stadium known for housing a bunch of classless drunken pricks, and the player reacts almost involuntarily with a shove, and restrains himself from really hitting the guy while the guy and his co-jackassses shower the player with taunts and beer, well then, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one.

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