When Chairs Attack
By Pedro Gomez
Pandemonium broke out in the Giants locker room Wednesday evening after Barry Bonds' chair allegedly attacked three Giants players, indirectly injured a fourth, and had to be shot by Pac Bell Park security. This incident, following other chair-related incidents across the major leagues in recent months, has put teams on alert, players on edge, and senators on the warpath.
The chair, a $3000 black leather recliner from The Sharper Image, assaulted Giants Pedro Feliz, Moises Alou, and Mike Matheney directly following the Giants' 10-2 win against the Dodgers Wednesday night. Witnesses say the incident began when Feliz, who hit two homers in the game, decided to sit in Bonds' recliner.
"Pedro was goofin' around after the game," said Giant reliever Scott Eyre, "saying that since he hit like BB [Bonds], he should sit in Bonds' chair. And Moises was like, 'Well, hey, I should too!'" Reports differ on what happened - players claim that the chair forcibly threw Feliz off, while some reporters say that the chair merely tipped over. "Those guys didn't know how the chair worked," says San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Shea, "so Matheney and Alou got behind it and started rocking the chair back and forth. And then it fell over backwards on Alou's left foot."
Witnesses who believe the chair was at fault say that after the chair pounced on Alou's foot, it then reared back up and caught Matheney on the chin. "Never seen anything like it, man," said Giants rookie first baseman Lance Niekro. "It just WHOOSH came up and caught Eminem [Matheney] square on the jaw. Like Tyson in his prime. Or Buster Douglas."
Security personnel rushed into the locker room and trained their guns on the chair. Shots were fired after an officer, Gormley Barbrady, of Secaucus, NJ, claimed he saw the chair make a move towards Giants manager Felipe Alou. "That chair was crazy wild. [Expletive] had to be put down before it caused more damage, yaoming?" Five shots were fired. Three hit the recliner in the head rest, one in the right arm rest, and one in the bottom cushion. The chair was declared dead at the scene. No other witnesses were hurt. The three players assaulted by the chair. were examined by the Giants medical staff, and given clean bills of health. However, Giants outfielder Marquis Grissom was rushed to the hospital for treatment of shock symptoms.
"Clearly this is another example of steroid use in professional sports run amok," claims Arizona Senator John McCain. McCain has been an outspoken advocate for stricter drug-testing policies in baseball and all professional sports. "Or is it just a coincidence that it was Barry Bonds' chair that went on this rampage?"
McCain claims that the chair's behavior and attack was symptomatic of "roid rage", a term used to describe the destructive and violent mood swings experienced by chronic anabolic steroid users. "No doubt in my mind," McCain said. "This type of shameful behavior can only harm the sport of baseball, and the world of sports, and it needs to be stopped at the source. We cannot allow high priced furniture hepped up on performance enhancing chemicals to run amok."
Bonds, currently entering his second rehab stint of the year following a bacterial infection in his surgically-repaired knee, attended last night's game. Sources say he left the park shortly before the chair incident occurred. He was unavailable for comment.
The Pac Bell chair incident follows a recent rash of incidents involving baseball players and chairs. Late last season, Texas Rangers reliever Frank Francisco was arrested and charged with assault after a chair in his hands flew into the stands of Oakland-Alameda County Stadium and broke the nose of a female fan.
This week, two more chair-related incidents occurred. Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger broke a finger when his left hand was caught between the wooden armrests of two recently purchased massage chairs.
Also this week, Reds manager Dave Miley had the massage chairs of his two star players, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Adam Dunn, removed from the clubhouse. In an article from MLB.com, Dunn claimed that the chair did nothing wrong. "'Poor little guy,' [Dunn] said, looking at the spot where the chair once sat. 'He didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t complain. He just came to play every day.'"
Commissioner Bud Selig made a brief statement to the press following the incident at Pac Bell Park, stating that the decision to use or remove chairs is up to the teams and stadium personnel. "Major League Baseball trusts that the ballclubs will make the right decisions in deciding what chairs, if any, should be used, and what chairs should be removed before they cause any harm. While I hesitate to proclaim that the problem is as bad as it seems, it would be dishonest of me to stand here and not say that, gone unchecked, this could become a problem that could threaten the foundation and the health of America's National Pasttime."
Reports that Commissioner Selig was surprised by a whoopie cushion following his statement could not be corroborated at the time that this report went to press.
Pedro Gomez, who is a bureau reporter for E$PN, covered the Oakland A's from 1990-97 for both the San Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento Bee and was the national baseball writer for the Arizona Republic from 1997-2003.