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Madden: Frankly, Simon's act is no big deal

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Randall Simon used his bat to strike a 19-year-old woman. She was dressed in an Italian sausage costume at the time.

Simon's bat struck the top of the costume, missing the woman's actual head by a large margin but causing the woman to lose her balance, fall and scrape her knees.

Simon, a first baseman for the Pirates, left Miller Park in handcuffs. He was later cited for disorderly conduct and fined $432. He was then suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball.

Simon made a terrible mistake. For one thing, he chose the wrong target. Simon should have swung his bat at a policeman.

As usual, the cops made a big deal out of an issue that involved no real danger even as larger crimes continued unabated. Think any crack got sold Wednesday night on the streets of Milwaukee?

Simon should have swung his bat at Brewers vice president Rick Schlesinger, a contemptible man who made Simon sound like a war criminal.

Said Schlesinger: "This is an insane act. It's one of the most outrageous things I've ever seen inside a ballpark or outside a ballpark. It sickened me to see it."

Inside a ballpark or outside a ballpark? I guess Schlesinger slept in on 9/11. It's not as if Simon flew a jet into the Eckrich plant. Now that would be an insane act.

Schlesinger had good news yesterday, however.

"The sausage race, which has always been an exciting part of our game production at Miller Park, will continue in its current form," he said.

And some folks say there's no God.

Simon should have swung his bat at Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy, who needed to step up, speak plainly and say how silly all this is. Instead, the Pirates issued an apology. An apology for what?

All that happened was this: A couple of people fell down and skinned their knees.

That sometimes happened to me when I was a kid at the playground, and when I went home sobbing to my mother, she often said: "When you laugh, the world laughs with you. When you cry ... I'll give you something to cry about, you little jerk."

Mom was right. No big deal.

But if McClatchy didn't have the guts to speak up during last year's collective bargaining negotiations, the resolution of which damned his franchise to being noncompetitive forever, a little thing like his first baseman in cuffs certainly wasn't going to make him rock baseball's sinking boat.

When I saw Simon hit the sausage, I thought it was funny. When I found out the sausage and the hot dog suffered scraped knees, I still thought it was funny.

But when I found out Simon got arrested, it stopped being funny and started being stupid. When I heard Simon got fined and suspended, I became outraged.

Simon was just trying to have some fun, it backfired slightly, and two people skinned their knees. Then some idiot called the cops when Bactine and a Band-Aid would have done just fine.

Suspending Simon makes last year's decision to end the All-Star Game in a tie look intelligent.

The sausage girl, Mandy Block, has the situation pegged right: "It just seems ridiculous."

Well put for someone who dresses like meat for a living.

If McClatchy was smart (and he's not; he owns a small-market baseball team, remember?), he would cash in on all this.

The racing sausages are due to come to PNC Park to compete against our own racing pierogies when the Pirates play the Brewers Aug. 15-17.

The fleet foodstuffs are scheduled to have a rematch when the Pirates go to Milwaukee Aug. 22-24.

McClatchy must make sure all that isn't called off.

Lousy baseball won't sell out PNC Park. Revenge-minded sausages might.

The Brewers also come to Pittsburgh Thursday to begin a four-game series.

I only hope the Milwaukee players don't feel obligated to beat the heck out of our racing pierogies. (Actually, between you and me, it would be great if they did.)

If anything, Wednesday should have been cause for celebration. A Pirates first baseman actually made solid contact with something. It doesn't happen often.

The real winner (literally) in all this was Ryan Borghoff, 16, who wore the bratwurst costume in Wednesday's race.

With the Italian sausage and hot dog down and with the Polish sausage distracted (it doesn't take much), the bratwurst won.

"Somebody had to, I guess," Borghoff said.

Hey, just like the National League Central Division.

Mark Madden is the host of a sports talk show from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on WEAE-AM (1250).

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