Re-taking the field
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

    "The fourth guy actually screwed everybody up. What he did was not right. I don't believe in any type of violence."
    -- Albert Skutnik, quoted in the Chicago Tribune (April 17, 2003)

I speak on behalf of all legitimate fence-jumpers and field-runners today, during our darkest hour.

Eric Dybas
One bad apple has spoiled the bunch of peaceloving fence-jumpers.
Rise up, brethren, and protect the dignity of our breed. Don't let one miscreant ruin the reputation of our noble avocation. We have fought hard for the right to shed our shirts, maybe even our pants, and run across big-league fields of green in pursuit of our dreams.

Allowing one ignorant lout to destroy, in one misguided leap, the hard work of thousands would be inconsistent with our mission as pioneers and boundary-breakers.

Remember our motto, brethren: They can't stop us, and they can't hope to contain us.

The Fourth Guy, as he will be forever known, is 24-year-old Eric Dybas, a man friends say is a fun guy who has had trouble maintaining steady employment. This Fourth Guy sullied our good name by taking the field at Comiskey/Cell/Whatever Park and grovel-hugging the legs of umpire Laz Diaz.

Friends, we have worked too hard for too long to return to the dark days of hiding beneath the bleachers, risking showers of beer and worse, while waiting for that perfect moment to free our real selves with a furtive sprint and heroic leap into the great green beyond.

Who among us has not felt the slings and fists of security personnel everywhere, those yellow-jacketed establishment pawns, not to mention the unmentionable violations that take place within the bowels of the stadium, whilst nobody is looking? Who among us cannot look back at that first night, in Dodger or Shea or Camden, and remember the first moment of inspiration, whether it be beer or dare, with fondest remembrance?

Indeed, we are bound by our first leap, a leap into the unknown, to rally the fans or impress the little lady or fulfill our deepest need to get chin-drooled drunk and show the world of what we are made.

Eric Dybas
Justice seems to have been served to Dybas a little earlier than his court date.
Remember, brothers, our brave predecessors, those righteous men who shed the confines of the stands in Candlestick Park, Forbes Field and the Astrodome with the hope of making the world a better place for us to ply our noble trade.

You feel the need. I feel the need. We all feel the need.

Friends, I implore you one final time. Reject The Fourth Guy and all for which he stands. Raise a beer or 12 in honor of our good name.

Get up off your seats, brothers, but not too fast. Gather thy bearings and steady thy vertiginous gaze. Free yourself from the bondage of unwanted clothing. Take a deep breath and ponder the wisdom of the manager who would play three left fielders in the same inning.

Stand up, brothers, for our good name.

You are our only hope.

This Week's List

  • Look, if I get the itch to rush an ump, I know one thing: It ain't gonna be one that's put together like Laz Diaz.
  • On a slightly more inside-baseball note, here's a trend that seems to be worsening by the year: The decay of throwing arms both in accuracy and strength in big-league outfields.
  • Just a question: Did Raul Ibanez really think no one would notice him stomping Dude's calf after Diaz had nailed him to the grass?
  • Just for the heck of it: Horace Speed.
  • Hey, Mr. Victim, just take the millions from the university, the shoe contract and the television show, and stop your crying: Roy Williams.
  • By the way: If the decision to leave Kansas was so hard and gut-wrenching and teary and emotional and psychologically devastating, what was it that made you want to leave in the first place?
  • Furman looks good, though: Chances are that home-and-home between Kansas and UNC might have to wait a couple more years.
  • Get your tickets now: The Martha Burk Road Show, coming to an obscure street corner near you.
  • Sure to be wrong, NBA first-round predictions, in the exact order in which the matchups popped into my head: 1) Lakers over Wolves in five; 2) Kings over Jazz in six; 3) Spurs over Suns in four; 4) Blazers over Mavs in seven (based on the all-important character factor); 5) Pistons over Magic in five; 6) Hornets over Sixers in six; 7) Pacers over Celtics in five; 8) Nets over Bucks in seven.
  • Good thing Bill Lee didn't win an extra 100 games or so: This week the Village Voice opined that Tom Seaver ("If the Mets can win the World Series," he said in '69, "the United States can get out of Vietnam") might merit removal from the Hall of Fame by gatekeeper Dale Petroskey.
  • And finally, if you look in the mirror and wonder just how badly your tie clashes with your shirt, always remember: No matter what you do or how you do it, you can't possibly look worse than a guy wearing one of those all-red Red Sox unis.
  • Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at



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