While I was playing, I had my fair share of run-ins with fans, but they were mostly verbal. I never thought my safety was an issue.
Now the tide has turned. The clown who attacked umpire Laz Diaz has said in his own defense -- and I won't use his name because that's all he really wants -- that he wanted to one-up the three fans who had previously run onto the field during Tuesday night's game between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals.
One-up them? What an absurd statement -- and how amazingly stupid. In attacking Diaz, this clown attacked an innocent man who has served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Diaz was just doing his job, calling a fly-ball out.
I once played with a ballplayer who carried a knife in his pocket while he was on the field.
When I was playing baseball, no matter what level, I always kept it simple. Catch the ball, throw the ball, hit the ball. Today, players must do all these things and worry about some ass in the stands who wants to one-up people who have exhibited idiotic behavior by running onto the field.
It has to stop. If it doesn't, don't be surprised when one of these big, strong athletes beats a moron to within an inch of his life.
Here's a true story -- not to prove a point, but to let you know that not all athletes think alike. I once played with a ballplayer who carried a 6-inch knife in his pocket while he was on the field. Why? Because he expected to be attacked on the field -- and wouldn't you know it, he was. But, thankfully, he didn't have time to get to his knife or there would've been bloodshed.
Granted, that's an extreme case, and I don't think it's commonplace at all. But when you start backing Americans into a corner, I think you know how it always turns out.
Thank God that someone finally wants to put a stop to this rush-the-field madness. Judge Nicholas Ford has said, "Somebody has to say no to this conduct, and it's going to be me." Judge Ford, I love you. Someone finally gets it. Ford's stand is not only for the players and umpires but also for true fans everywhere, who shouldn't be subjected to this kind of conduct.
Let's bring back the attitude and the moral standards that fans 30 and 40 years ago followed. We don't have to wear the suits and ties and hats, but let's act like we do. And remember, you don't know who's under that umpire's uniform -- it might be another Marine.
Former Cincinnati Reds reliever Rob Dibble is an ESPN baseball analyst and a co-host of "The Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN Radio. The co-MVP of the 1990 NLCS, Dibble contributes regularly to ESPN.com.