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.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.