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Fan runs onto field in Atlanta and gets destroyed

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This has turned into a lively little discussion on Twitter, so let’s share it here. Bonus: it involves one of what I am well aware is one of my more unpopular opinions, so it gives a good many of you a chance to yell at me about it. Yell all ya want.

Last night, at the Cardinals-Braves game in Atlanta a fan who, I’m gonna guess anyway, was either over-served or under-brained, decided to run out onto the field like a moron. It happens.

As also happens, especially these days, he was utterly creamed by the SunTrust Park security team. Watch as he’s slammed into the wall and then dog-piled. Bonus: I am about 85% sure that the guard who did the slamming is the one who fell down just before, which shows that he has some serious recovery skills and closing speed:

Not gonna lie: there’s humor in this sort of thing, at least assuming the fan rushing onto the field has no more than mischief on his mind and assuming everyone is OK in the end, which seems to be the case here.

Still — as I wrote, gosh, nine years ago when that kid ran onto the field at Citizens Bank Park and got tased — I do have to ask if the force used in this case was truly necessary. The guy gets slammed into that wall pretty hard and it’s quite a dog pile on him at the end. Part of me wonders if, perhaps, an exhausted drunk idiot could’ve been corralled a little less forcefully than that.

At this point I know what you’re thinking: Tom Gamboa. Monica Seles. Crazy stuff — violent stuff — has happened at sporting events in these kinds of situations. I get that and I won’t for a moment diminish the sort of threats that could, theoretically, present themselves when a fan runs onto a playing surface.

At the same time, however, the theoretical possibility of such things does not absolve security or law enforcement from actually assessing threats and using force commensurate with said threats in stopping them. Maybe it’s different if the guy is making a beeline for a player (in fact he ran right past several apparently unconcerned players) and maybe it’s different if he’s not acting, in every obvious way, like your garden variety streaker from 1974, absent the courage to actually get naked. The circumstances matter and it’s part of the job description of security to determine the circumstances when acting.

I’m not saying that the security guards in Atlanta last night were necessarily over the line. It’s debatable. Heck, the cut on his left arm notwithstanding, the guy looked not very much worse for wear after the fact:

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I’m just saying that, contrary to what a lot of people like to say (e.g. “Once you’re on a field, all bets are off!), there is, in fact, a line and that a misdemeanor trespass does not necessarily justify any and every amount of force security doles out. It seems to me that, in recent years, security and/or police at sporting events tend to err far closer to that line than they used to and sometimes cross it and that, maybe, that’s not really necessary in every situation.

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

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For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.