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Best money plan:
Simply, go crazy!

Oct 5, 2004 1:10 PM

I have a new plan for those who like to make money.

No cards, no dice, no horses, no slots.

It’s a surefire enterprise, with customers in dire need of the service and free advertising available almost daily.

It is making defensive equipment for sports fans. Helmets, masks, mesh vests, eye glass shields, stun guns with team logos on them, disabling sprays, groin protectors, reinforced brassieres. Anything to protect fans from rampaging athletes out of control.

I got the idea from Milton Bradley. Not the company that makes Scrabble and Yahtzee, but Milton Bradley of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The wild man who dropped a fly ball in right field with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth inning recently, and grew infuriated because home fans in L.A. booed him for doing it.

Bradley was ready to charge into the stands after the fan who threw a plastic beer bottle at him but couldn’t locate him. His tantrum and screaming intimidated the Dodger faithful along the right field baseline, though. One said Bradley "looked like a madman." Another said he was afraid Bradley was going to beat him up. Teammates and security guards saved the day but they didn’t save Bradley. He was suspended for the remainder of the regular season, which was not very cruel and unusual considering the late date.

This was the same punishment meted out to Jose Guillen of the Anaheim Angels, who was restrained from doing physical harm to his manager Mike Scioscia after he was lifted for a pinch runner and threw a helmet toward Scioscia and cursed at him. Guillen has a two-year, $6 million contract and says he "tells it as it is."

Bradley’s and Guillen’s outbursts were mild compared to that of Frank Francisco of the Texas Rangers, who tossed a chair into the stands in Oakland that hit a man and broke a woman’s nose. Guillen was arrested for his tantrum and tirade.

Bradley apologized the day after his explosion, saying he was "sorry from the bottom of my heart," He also mentioned his brain, indirectly, by saying he planned to "talk to somebody" about anger control and make sure there is no repetition. That’s good news for both Dodger fans and foes alike. Bradley says he wants to be "a productive person," a step up.

He has been a habitual rowdy, having run-ins with managers and umpires, having a drunk driving arrest on his record, and having been given the boot from spring training when he was with the Cleveland Indians.

Guillen is a confirmed clubhouse furniture buster and manager baiter, and spent time with five teams in four years. He could stand some anger management, too.

The fan who threw the bottle at Bradley was discovered and arrested. He also was contemplative and contrite, which is interesting since there seem to be as many goons sitting in outfield bleachers as there are on the ice in the National Hockey League. They populate outfields coast to coast, and do not confine their gang behavior to baseball.

A few years ago, on a snowy football day at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, fans decided to pelt players and officials with ice balls, and one hit an official and downed him.

Hockey fans in the upper reaches of hockey arenas are not candidates for angeldom, either, and horseracing fans in New York shout obscenities regularly at jocks and harness drivers who fail to win with mounts on which the foul-mouthed, uncouth losers have wagered.

Watching the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Forest Hills recently, I was impressed by the decorum of the tennis crowd. Occasional derisive shouts could be heard between points, but they stopped before each serve. And of course those who tromp along the fairways of tournament golf know better than to utter a sound when someone is driving or putting.

Despite the Bradleys and Guillens and Franciscos of our sports world, and the animals who incite them to riot, we are fortunate when compared to the nationalistic mobs soccer mobs in Europe. I firmly believe protective fan gear can be profitable, and I plan to investigate and invest.