A plan to end baseball's brawlingUninformed commentators...

the Forum

June 23, 1993

A plan to end baseball's brawling

Uninformed commentators have said the recent rash of baseball brawls are something you'd expect to see at a hockey rink. It seems ironic that the answer to these unseemly battles may lie in what hockey has done to eliminate brawling.

In the past several years, hockey has adopted rules and penalties so high that bench-clearing brawls have become a thing of the past. Baseball has had more brawls in the past three weeks than hockey has had in the last five years.

Hockey began by compelling uninvolved players to go to separate areas of the rink when a fight starts -- if they don't, the team and the coach are fined $1,000 each. It also ejects players who take part in the second fight during a play stoppage.

The third ejection during a season for this or any other reason results in a one-game suspension, the next a two-game suspension, etc. Since hockey incomes depend largely on incentives, the suspended players lose not only their salary but the opportunity to reach the levels at which their incentives kick in.

The clincher was applied two years ago. The first player off the bench to join an altercation in progress is automatically suspended for 10 games, and the coach and second player off the bench are gone for five. The franchise is also fined $10,000, which increases by $5,000 for each subsequent offense. This is in addition the penalties and fines for their actual actions.

Since major league baseball teams play 162 games, nearly twice the 84-game NHL schedule, and baseball salaries are much higher, the fines and suspensions for baseball players coming off the bench should be double those in hockey. If baseball would take away one-eighth of the season (20 games) from a baseball player -- along with a corresponding loss of salary -- and add 10 games for those who instigate a brawl, the brawling would halt abruptly.

Of course, since most baseball brawls start because a batter feels the pitcher is throwing at him, strict enforcement of the beanball rule would have to accompany these automatic suspensions to keep pitchers under control.

The three- and five-game suspensions the league presidents have been handing out certainly haven't deterred anybody. If the brawls go on, it's going to hurt baseball attendance just as it hurt hockey before it cleaned up its act. The owners and league presidents must have the willpower to clean up what is America's quintessential gentlemen's game, and they must do it soon.

Chuck Frainie


Editorial overkill

It should not be for The Baltimore Sun's editorial board to decide that beanballs and brawling have no place on the diamond (Evening Sun editorial, June 8).

It is bad enough that your sportswriters do the inevitable proselytizing columns expounding the social ills of such activities. But when we have to read about it in the editorial section, it is true overkill.

Who would agree that fighting is good for baseball? Talk about stating the obvious.

Daniel F. Blauch


Grading Berger

Your newspaper recently reported that School Superintendent Stuart Berger has appointed a committee to study weighted grades in ranking students. That same issue was part of his charge to another committee appointed last fall to evaluate grading in Baltimore County schools.

After discussing the issue and gathering information from college admissions offices across the country, the committee recommended that weighted grade point averages as well as unweighted GPAs be placed on high school transcripts, and that weighted grades be used in determining class rank.

Apparently, when Dr. Berger does not agree with the recommendations of a committee that he himself has appointed, he just appoints another one.

Eventually, some committee will get it right.

It is time the Baltimore County Board of Education admit it made a mistake when it hired Dr. Berger.

Sylvia Egeth

Owings Mills

Teacher pay

According to a recent news report, high school graduates in Japan and Germany are as knowledgeable in math and science as our college graduates.

In Japan and Germany, teachers are also paid the same as doctors and lawyers.

Back in the 1930s, when I graduated from Goucher College with majors in math, chemistry and education, teachers were paid $1,000 a year to start. Why did so many go into teaching? Because at the time it was one of the few professional jobs open to women.

Today, women can choose from any field they wish, particularly if they are trained in math and science. Meanwhile, security guards are paid more than teachers in some schools. So what do you expect?

Teaching has got to be made a more profitable, more respectable profession before it will attract the best people. Until then education will suffer.

Ruth J. Smith


Remove litter

Sgt. James Mentzor, 24-four year Baltimore county police veteran, is reprimanded for removing trash and litter from lawns as requested by Essex home owners.

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