- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 15, 2004

You never throw the ball boy’s chair in the direction of a woman sitting in one of the right-field box seats unless she is wearing a hockey mask and an armor-plated suit.

This is one of the cardinal rules of baseball.

There is no wiggle room with a flying chair. There is just nowhere to go with it, except to the hospital.

You throw a chair that bounces off the head of a man, whereupon it ends up striking the left temple of a woman.

One moment the woman is enjoying the serenity of a game that harkens back to America’s pastoral beginnings, and the next moment she is being transported to the hospital after sustaining facial cuts and a broken nose.

This is a problem, no ifs, ands or bailiffs about it.

It is just not nice to throw chairs unless Vince McMahon is your employer and the endeavor is being held in a steel cage that features several burly men in skin-tight shorts, at least one babe who will rip your hair and eyes out if you let her and a referee whose purpose is generally unknown.

The only other person who vaguely tolerates the chair-throwing maneuver is Jerry Springer, and that is only because one of his guests is married, has 10 girlfriends and 15 children, and the resident psychotherapist decides that a chair to the man’s head possibly could knock some sense into him.

But even with Springer’s trailer-park crowd, the chair-throwing tactic is a measure of last resort.

Rangers reliever Frank Francisco resorted to the chair-throwing form of enlightenment in the ninth inning of a tight game Monday night in Oakland, Calif. It apparently was a tough crowd, an Al Davis-like crowd, for which Jack London’s modest municipality is best known.

As Rangers manager Buck Showalter put it: “It went over the line. It was a real break from the normal trash you hear from fans. We’ve had problems about every time we’ve come here.”

To be fair to the woman with the broken nose, Showalter should be reminded that sticks and chairs may break your bones, but words can never hurt you.

This is not to trivialize the boorish behavior of all too many fans. They think the price of admission entitles them to spew a steady stream of vulgarities toward members of the visiting team. This somehow falls under the broad definition of being a true fan of the home team. These fans see a direct correlation between a high number of F-bombs leading to a significant increase in production on offense of the home team.

No studies ever have confirmed this theory. Yet all too many fans embrace it.

No one with the Rangers has revealed the content that emanated from the object of their ire. Just guessing, but it probably was a few clicks up the insult meter from your mother wears combat boots.

So baseball is dealing with three black eyes: the Francisco-induced one and the two that come with the woman’s broken nose.

It is a darn shame, is what it is, far worse than taking a bat to the head of an Italian sausage that is involved in a race between innings.

The XXX-rated man, whose rhetorical skills eventually caused the Rangers to snap, apparently was not harmed during his confrontation with the chair.

Instead, it was the poor woman who came out of it looking like a punch-drunk fighter.

You know how it goes from here.

Francisco was arrested on a charge of aggravated battery yesterday. He will be suspended soon enough by the powers that be of baseball.

The woman, meanwhile, is said to be thinking of pressing charges, which is reasonable enough.

Her quality of life is destined to improve, assuming her attorneys can hit this fat pitch out of the legal park.

No one — absolutely no one — goes to the ballpark to receive a nose job from an unlicensed practitioner.

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