More details on the death of Shannon Stone

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More details are available this morning on the death that occurred at the Ballpark at Arlington last night. The man’s name was Shannon Stone. He was a 39-year-old firefighter from Brownwood, Texas and, sadly, as preliminary reports noted, he was at the game with his young son, who watched the accident happen.

According to this Associated Press report, Stone was conscious after his fall, but went into cardiac arrest soon afterward and was pronounced dead within the hour.

After the game, Nolan Ryan gave a statement:

“We had a very tragic accident tonight and one of our fans lost their life reaching over the rail trying to get a ball. As an organization, and as our team members and our staff, we’re very heavy-hearted about this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

As we figured last night, Ryan said that Josh Hamilton was “very distraught,” as is the rest of the team and the Oakland A’s as well.

Last year another fan fell at a Rangers game, suffering serious though non-fatal injuries. During the stadium’s first game in 1994, another fan fell, also suffering serious injuries. It’s premature for anyone to talk about whether there are any fundamental issues with that ballpark or if these accidents were merely coincidental, and Ryan wouldn’t discuss that last night.  It’s certainly the case, however, that such accidents aren’t confined to Arlington. In May a fan fell to his death at Coors Field while attempting to slide down a stairway railing.  Each year, it seems, there are one or two deaths at ballparks due to falls.

But after the shock wears off, such an analysis is in order. And, as always, fans should remember that ballparks are just like anyplace else: accidents can happen and one needs to be careful.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.