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.