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The great thing about baseball, of course, is that there's always something new under the sun. The latest exhibit comes from sunny Daytona Beach, Florida, where teenaged Cubs prospect Jae-kuk Ryu is in hot water after nailing an osprey during pregame warmups. Apparently ospreys are a semi-endangered species in Florida, and killing or injuring one gets you a misdemeanour charge. The report makes no indication of whether it was accidental (cf. Dave Winfield, Randy Johnson) or intentional.

Apparently, this kind of incident also gets the xenophobic neighbours on your back. One outraged resident reportedly wants the pitcher "deported" back to South Korea. Charming. You think if it was a strapping white high school kid who brained the bird, they'd be calling for him to be deported back to Texarkana? Ryu's lucky he's not from France. Charlie Lea might have been run out of town on a rail.

Anyway, the Cubs demoted Ryu to their Lansing affiliate in the Midwest League, and I hope that was out of concern for Ryu's safety at Florida State League ballparks, or maybe as a face-saving PR move, rather than actual punishment. Because if Jae-kuk Ryu gets demoted for injuring a bird, why then, Ben Christensen deserves to be cut loose by the organization altogether, wouldn't you think?
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_King Rat - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 11:46 AM EDT (#89895) #
I think he was throwing at the bird, given that the article mentions that it was 'perched' somewhere. Winfield's thing wasn't entirely an accident-he didn't mean to kill it, and he thought he wouldn't be able to hit it, but he was aiming at the seagull. It was just bad luck that he picked one that was already injured.

Christensen-well, there's not much to say, is there? Maybe I'm naive-I certainly haven't played at anything approaching a high level-but I always thought the whole point of the on-deck circle was to get your timing down. I mean, it isn't like the hitch in my swing is going to disappear in five practice swings. Just sick. It makes me mad every time I read about it. The worst of it is that he's clearly not a bit sorry. I can sort of understand blind, inchoate, stupid rage, provided that the consequences shock the idiot into remorse. A guy who does something that vicious and then doesn't even feel bad about I don't think I'd ever turn my back to him.
_Cristian - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:45 PM EDT (#89896) #
I think quality Korean ballplayers are more endangered than ospreys. What exactly did Christiansen do by the way. I kind of get an idea from King Rat's message but can anyone explain to me exactly what happened?
_DS - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:47 PM EDT (#89897) #
Click on the Ben Christensen link. It tells you all you need to know.
_Cristian - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#89898) #
I do remember this story, but I had forgotten it was Christiansen. I thought what was being referred to was some sort of bird related incident. Thanks for pointing out the link. Sometimes I need the obvious pointed out to me.
Coach - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 01:34 PM EDT (#89899) #
Christensen's coaches were more than a little responsible; Ben was a youngster doing what he was told. To defy that edict would have taken enormous courage, as it could have affected his role on the team, maybe his whole baseball future. It's easy to say he should have stood up to the coaches, but jerks with that mentality have a way of intimidating their own players, too. It would have been best under the circumstances to throw near the guy, and maybe that's what he attempted; nobody's control is that precise. It's a shame that the kid who threw the pitch is taking more blame than the ones who ordered him to do it.

Ryu was probably just amusing himself, knowing it was almost impossible to actually hit the osprey. Both incidents are unfortunate and regrettable, and the backlash (like Winfield's arrest) is not entirely fair. I'm not condoning any of these acts, but they were more foolish or thoughtless than malicious, and if it was a crime to be stupid or impulsive, many of us would have been locked up years ago.
_R Billie - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#89900) #
It's one thing to be stupid and impulsive, it's another to be criminally negligent to the point of causing bodily harm. I don't think an act that possibly blinds someone in one eye qualifies as a "young and dumb" type of act. I hope Molina gets a huge win out of his civil case.

I would question the character of anyone who dusts someone off for timing pitches, a practice that happens with regularity in the major leagues. Shannon Stewart always does it in the on-deck circle with a pitcher warming up and I've never seen him beaned as a result.
Coach - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 03:07 PM EDT (#89901) #
For sure, Billie. I'm not trying to justify what happened, and I completely agree that Molina deserves whatever is awarded him. I just think it's unfortunate to portray Christensen alone as criminally negligent when the lion's share of responsibility rests with his coaches. That mentality has no place in sports, especially at the collegiate level.

The issue isn't timing pitches, it's moving from the on-deck circle to a better vantage point behind the plate. It's an unwritten rule, but "enforcing" it by throwing at the hitter is an antequated idea held by a few small minds. If (for example) Roger Clemens did it, I wouldn't blame Joe Torre. But a 20-year-old, ordered to do so by his coaches, is showing immaturity, not necessarily a lack of character. I think Stephenson and Kemnitz should be held equally accountable.
_Shrike - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#89902) #
Coach, I hate to disagree with you, but based on the facts of this case I can't let your opinion about Christensen's culpability pass in silence.

He *is* criminally negligent, plain and simple. Without looking up the relevant American statutes, I'd speculate that US case law at the very least would direct a judge to assess blame to Christensen's coaches as a possible mitigating factor (and any competent defense attorney would build his case with an attempt to shift the blame).

But the lion's share of the blame? I can't buy that; it was Christensen who exercised his free will and his (poor) judgment to actually throw the ball at Molina's head. Ergo, you have intent to injure. Was it unfortunate that Christensen's coaches were grossly distorted maniacs with peculiar ideas of acceptable baseball practices? Yes, but it doesn't excuse Christensen's bad decision-making.
Craig B - Thursday, April 24 2003 @ 08:13 PM EDT (#89903) #
Ryu's lucky he's not from France. Charlie Lea might have been run out of town on a rail.

Line of the Week.

To defy that edict would have taken enormous courage, as it could have affected his role on the team

Coach, I grant that his role would have been affected, but "enormous courage" is not a word that should be applied to describe simple human decency. However, your point that the coaches are also responsible (in the sense that they were also negligent; they failed to uphold their duty of care to Molina to ensure he was not injured) is a good one.
_Sammy Prywes - Tuesday, April 29 2003 @ 05:49 PM EDT (#89904) #
Ryu is an inhumane man. Any decently sensed man would not hit a poor defenseless bird for target practice.
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