The Camden Yards Field-Stormer, And The Umpire Who Exacted Vigilante Justice

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Security at Camden Yards are perhaps the most forgiving in baseball. So when a fan slid into home plate Friday night, the umpire was forced to take matters into his own hands.

Another field-stormer at Camden Yards! Of the last six fans to run around on a Major League Baseball field, four have done so in Baltimore. This is no accident. By this point, I think we can agree that the Orioles' security team is the most permissive in the league.

Let's back up for a moment, and consider the following:

September 26th, 2011. A fan takes the field at Camden Yards. The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham tweets:

A fan just ran on the field, flipped off the Red Sox dugout and security did virtually nothing. A few cops stood and watched

Grantland's Bill Barnwell tweets:

@jon_bois Runner on the field in Baltimore. He's been running so long that NESN commentators are wondering where security is.

April 6th, 2012. A fan runs on the field in a cape. Amazingly, he's able to meander through the field for over a minute before security apprehends him. In fact, he's even allowed to come to a dead stop in shallow center and perform an elaborate mime act.

And now let's consider Friday night's spectacle.

Camden4-27_medium

While examining video evidence, I counted six security personnel on the field (I believe at least one was a Baltimore police officer). One of them accelerated to an easy jog as the fan in question sprinted to third base. Two of them briefly left their heels as he entered the infield. Apart from that, they all walked as though they were lodge members marching in a parade.

This, of course, enabled the enterprising gentleman in question to make it from the stands to shallow left-center, then penetrate the infield no-fan's land, then round third and perform a head-first slide into home plate.

And then he was brought down ... but not by security. Someone get the lights, please.

The home plate umpire (in this case, Jeff Kellogg) holds absolute dominion over home plate and the surrounding vicinity. If the President ordered his armies to occupy the batter's boxes, the umpire would say, "no, turn around your tanks," and they would halt and sheepishly reverse course. He is the Supreme Protectorate, and when this gentleman made a mockery of his domain by sliding into home, he was compelled to take action.

We have seen players take down unauthorized individuals, but this is the first time I can recall an umpire doing so. Why did he have to do the security guards' job for them? I don't know, but I refuse to dismiss Camden security as lazy.

Rather, they are the most forward-thinking assembly of security personnel I have ever seen. When they watch a fan on the field, I think they ponder the next few hours of his life. The hours in which he is shoved into the back seat of a Crown Victoria, fingerprinted, photographed, asked whether he is suicidal or requires medication, and ultimately thrown into a group cell in which he may or may not be able to sleep on a mattress.

They will not be pleasant hours. They know this, and they wouldn't dare be so cruel as to deprive him of these few pleasant, precious seconds. He will pay his penance, and it's only right to let him commit the crime. That's the only way I can explain their flat-footed, strolling indifference.

They play the villain's role. We all accept this. But even still, I would like to extend a measure of gratitude to those performing security work at Camden Yards. You are the most noble of your kind. To the stats:

Estimated run time: 45 seconds
Estimated run distance: 470 feet
Evasions: 2
Indignant gestures: 2 (rounded third base, slid into home)
Articles of clothing missing: 1 (shirt)
Security guards in play: 6
Interactions with non-security personnel: 1 (was tackled by umpire)

Athletic, daring and creative. All in all, an outstanding run. It seems that every fan who runs on a baseball diamond offers us something new to delight in. Until next time, friends.

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