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Anyone For Caning?

Griffel Ball

By David S. Griffel

Take me out to the brawl game,

I want to watch Derek Bell.

Hookers and fist-fights are his highlights:

I don't care if he goeth to hell.

For it's brute, brute, brute on the home team.

If they don't sin, they're to blame.

For it's one, two, three (four...ten), a KO,

And you're out at the all-brawl "game."

Eric Anthony's pond scum

A screw is loose in his brain.

Throws his helmet like a four-year-old,

Heck, let's give him six whacks of the cane.

For the sport's becoming a mockery.

Owners don't know how to tame.

Players make one, two...seven million a year,

And their antics are really lame.

By now, you've probably had enough of Darren's poetry yesterday and mine today, so here's some serious prose.

Hockey has had an awful reputation over the years for resembling boxing more than anything else, but baseball and basketball have been a lot worse as of late.

In hockey, you see one-on-one fights usually only between the teams' resident goons, but bench-clearers rarely happen--major suspensions and fines are handed out at the drop of a hat.

That isn't the case in baseball, though. Key players are being attacked and sometimes injured, like Boston's Paul Quantrill on Tuesday, or Cal Ripken last season, when his participation in a spat almost brought his season to an end. But you hardly every see a suspension go more than five games.

Basketball sees a bench-clearer between the Heat and Hawks, and the biggest punishment is just a three-game suspension for Miami's birdbrained Keith Askins, who suckerpunched Atlanta's Douglas Edwards while wearing a warm-up suit.

Then Dennis Rodman goes for the cycle against the Jazz--getting Tom Chambers ejected in a spat, intentionally tripping up John Stockton in the knee, hacking Karl Malone and getting ejected for taunting the Jazz bench.

But he gets just a slap-on-the-wrist one-game suspension and a fine which is less than he makes for doing a commercial.

While it may be easy to laugh at these events at first, it's easy to see how they can be detrimental. For example, what do young people do who see these players--successful, rich "role models" that they are--whaling away at each other? The same, but to innocent civilians outside of sports.

So, here are a few suggestions for curing the malady:

1. Mandatory ejections of every player who leaves the bench area or bullpen during a brawl. What if there aren't enough players left? The team that didn't start the fight wins by forfeit. If neither team started it, give both a loss.

2. The instigator gets a month off without pay from his sport (hockey, too). There's just no room for fighting. You don't see a boxer try to iceskate, so why should a hockey player try to box? Let the officials call the fouls or penalties, and send videotapes to the league commissioners if the officiating is unsatisfactory.

3. If someone's injured, the instigator and injurer (unless it's selfdefense) are suspended until that player is healthy again. (Your honor, I know I shouldn't have murdered that man. Can I get out of jail tomorrow?)

4. Suspend players who would be suspended under the current rules, but make it a five-game minimum.

Playoffs or not, All-Star or scrub, this mayhem has to stop, and with the sky-high salaries and egos of the modern ballplayer, harsh reactions are the only way it will.

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