In a sports world emotionally charged by recent player-fan incidents involving the Indiana Pacers' Ron Artest and the Texas Rangers' Frank Francisco, all of us should take a cue from Yankees rightfielder Gary Sheffield (left) and show a little restraint--as he did last Thursday night after being hit by a fan at Fenway Park. Yes, Sheffield instinctively pushed the spectator after the fan brushed him in the mouth while interfering with a ball hit down the rightfield line. But Sheffield understood the cardinal rule for athletes reacting to fan behavior: Never venture into the stands. He kept an unfortunate incident from becoming an ugly event.
At week's end the commissioner's office was still investigating the matter, though Sheffield need not be disciplined. What bears closer watching is the trend of fans wanting more and more to become a part of the action, rather than simply being spectators.
WORTH WAITING FOR
Righthander Denny Bautista (right) has been traded twice, which is odd for someone who is 24, throws 98 mph and has a wicked changeup. In August 2003 the Marlins shipped him to Baltimore to get first baseman Jeff Conine for their world championship drive. Last June the Orioles sent him to Kansas City to get journeyman reliever Jason Grimsley, though Baltimore was nine games under .500 at the time. Raw and sometimes wild, the 6'5" Bautista (1--1, 5.56 ERA through Sunday) should stick with the Royals, who can afford his growing pains. Meanwhile, scouts and opposing hitters are marveling at his pure stuff. "That kid's going to be a big winner," says Seattle second baseman Bret Boone.
The Giants' Noah Lowry (left) is the sixth pitcher since '69 to win his first seven career decisions. That's not the only reason he's a rare breed: Lowry is a homegrown lefty starter. After two weeks of the season only five lefties who were still with the team that originally signed them had a win: Lowry, Toronto's Gustavo Chacin, the White Sox' Mark Buehrle, the Pirates' Dave Williams and the Braves' Horacia Ramirez.
1. So much for the "punishment" of being outed for steroid use. The Yankees' Jason Giambi returned to cheers in New York and the Devil Rays' Alex Sanchez to fan indifference in Tampa Bay.
2. Lefthander Mark Mulder has picked up where he left off last year, when he looked tired down the stretch. In his past 19 starts with Oakland and now St. Louis, Mulder had a 6.29 ERA.
3. Marlins manager Jack McKeon may be old school, but he's not overtaxing his starting pitchers by allowing them to throw five complete games in their first 12 starts. Never did they exceed 114 pitches in those outings.