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Philadelphia sports fans may get tasered, but behavior in other cities is far worse


Whether we like it or not, Philadelphia fans and our sporting events sometimes set precedents for things it really doesn't want to set precedents for.

The 1980 World Series' pre and post celebration featured the K-9 Corps on the field- at that time a first (If you watch the 9th inning of that game, you'll see them running behind home plate! Which brings me to the question of what would have happened if Willie Wilson actually put the ball in play when Tug McGraw threw him that fastball?)

Well, as luck would have it, Monday night was reportedly the first time a taser has been used to subdue a fan on the baseball diamond. Yep, and it was right in our back yard at Citizens Bank Park. Not to run the risk of repeating what everyone has already rehashed, but I was quite surprised when the tasers came out. Only because fans rush the field a few times a year in Philly, and it's never come to the point where a fan needed to be tasered. This probably wouldn't have happened if incidents such as the New York City car bomb attempt are fresh in people's minds, but in today's day and age, you just never know.

Let me digress here a bit. If anyone is a fan of the Rolling Stones, you are probably familiar with the 1981 HBO special in which Keith Richards pummeled a fan who rushed the stage during the end of "Satisfaction." When asked about the incident, Richards defended his actions, emphasizing that the gentleman who was on the other end of his beating could have just been a fan, or he could have been completely crazy.

On the other hand, I attended a Van Halen concert in 1995 when drummer Alex Van Halen asked security to bring back a fan who rushed the stage to shake Eddie Van Halen's hand, so he could bow with the band at the end of the show. Go figure.

So back to 2010. You knew the national media would jump all over this story. ESPN, CNN, and Fox News  all made it a priority to show the tasing (if that is even a word). Once again, just like that, Philly fans are again in the news for all the WRONG reasons. And whether they are treated fairly or not, Philadelphia sports fans will in all likelihood NEVER shake this image.

Now I'm not going to sit here and ask for sympathy for Philadelphia fans. Some of the criticism is well deserved (see Matthew Clemens) and they they have brought it upon themselves. In saying that, when you think of the most violent acts and unruly behavior on the part of sports fans around the world, Philadelphia does not rank anywhere near the top of the list. And before the national "experts" use the "Throwing snowballs at Santa Claus" nonsense again, maybe they should rehash how season ticket holders of the New York Giants had their privileges revoked  because of "their" own snowball incident in 1995. You know, the one in which hundreds were arrested for pelting players during the game, which needed to be stopped when the Chargers' equipment manager was knocked unconscious by a snowball. Or better yet, nobody talks about the "Malice at the Palace" in 2004 with the Pacers-Pistons, or how Chicago Cubs fans throw punches at opposing players or dump beer on visiting players (Shane Victorino). And finally, what is probably the most heinous act of them all, the father and son duo who attacked former Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa in 2002.

Oddly enough, Gamboa was interviewed  in response to Monday night's incident at the Phillies  game and actually came to the defense of the Philadelphia fan. "I would hate to see Philly get a bad rap because of a couple of stupid people doing a bad act," said Gamboa, "because it doesn't reflect, to me, the city or the sports fans that they have. And I hope that gets across as this story goes around."

Couldn't have said it better myself, Tom.

Joe Vallee can be contacted at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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