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|| News Item: Posted 1999-05-17

Rant of the Month
By Robert Hanashiro

I like to tell the story about the time the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson went after me with a bat when he thought I was taking his picture during batting practice. While I don't think he would have taken a swing at me with the bat (and thanks to Rick Dempsey, he didn't get a chance) I escaped unharmed and able to do my job.

Photo by
The recent blinding of San Diego Padres team photographer Joel Zwink with a laser pointer by a couple of Pittsburgh players brings up that age old question: where is the line between harmless prank and dangerous act.

According to Padres security people, the Pirates' Turner Ward and Jason Schmidt shined a laser pointer into the lens of Zwink, temporarily blinding him. About a week later, Zwink reported that he was about 90%,

My first reaction to reading about the incident in USA TODAY was "There's a mega-lawsuit waiting to happen." But on further thought, this goes much deeper.

This potentially could have been Zwink's career. It would have been like Schmidt losing his arm or Ward losing a leg. It's how they make their living.

What were these two idiots thinking?

Never mind that Major League Baseball had banned laser pointers, common sense would have told most reasonable people that shining into the lens of a camera while a photographer is looking through it is WRONG.

Most of the time players use the laser pointer, which can shine a beam up to 1,500 feet, to point out "babes" in the stands or to scare fans.

This isn't an incident where a pissed off player dumps ice water onto a sportscaster (which certainly received much more publicity). This was an act that could have caused permanent damage and loss of livelihood.

I'm sure Joel isn't making a high six-figure yearly salary like Schmidt and Ward, but even a simple apology from the pair or from the ball club did not happen after the incident.

Photo by
While at Target the other night I looked over the large assortment of laser pointers they had for sale. On the back it states in large, bold letters "Keep Out of the Hands of Children." This sad incident reminds me that sports indeed are a game and that games are for children.

(Note: If you want to listen to the outrageous rant by Jim Rome on this incident, go to his archive site and move your audio player to the 2:30 mark in his show:

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