Well, it’s happened again; a fan has rushed the field for the sole purpose of hugging Cody Bellinger.
Why is that a problem, you ask? Well, it really is a safety issue.
But let’s backtrack. Why do fans love Bellinger SO MUCH? (And let’s be clear here: we’re talking about heterosexual female fans.)
- He Had One of the Greatest Dodger Seasons EVER as a Rookie
In 2017, Bellinger, as a rookie, had an amazing season. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft and had a good pedigree (his dad was a Yankee), but no one was quite ready for that first year. In 2017, he set the National League record for home runs with 39, had sky-high on-base percentages and slugging percentages (which means he could get on base AND hit for power) and had a 4+ WAR average. Now while that is a super-nerdy Sabermetrics buzzword, what it means is that his “Wins Above Replacement” number, a statistic that the community uses to try to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team, was so high that some say it could “re-write the record books.”
2. He’s Not Just a Rookie Phenom, He Continues to Play Well
His 2017 rookie season wasn’t just a fluke; Bellinger continues to develop as a player, showing a natural left-handed power swing that reminds some of Ken Griffey Jr. In 2018, he was the National League Championship Series MVP, and by the time of this writing in June of 2019, he had already hit 25 home runs and was batting .353 for the year.
3. He Seems Very Nice
Fans love that he seems like a “regular guy” and that he is perceived as willing to both work hard through slumps (he’s not a prima donna) and that he is willing to take photos and give autographs. His interviews with reporters like Jimmy Kimmel, in which he tells the story of riding his scooter to go eat at the IHOP, only add to this image.
4. He’s Handsome
Many fans find the young Bellinger to be a very good looking man in a clean-cut, All-American, Southern-Californian kind of way.
It’s the last two of these, most likely, that is causing Bellinger his problems of late. On both June 24 and June 25, fans jumped onto the field at the Dodgers’ home stadium and rushed toward Bellinger for the sole purpose of giving him a hug.
The young women on both occasions also approached Bellinger with cell phones, clearly hoping to get a selfie while they were on the field.
The fence in the outfield at Chase field is relatively low, which is not doing as much as it could be to keep the young women from leaping over and rushing to meet the ballplayer that they love so much.
It is, however seemingly innocent, a real problem.
Potential Dangers and Problems
There is more than one potential danger and problem lurking here. We will list them in no particular order:
- The safety of the fans: Ballplayers are not trained to keep an eye out for fans randomly charging in from the stands. They could be struck by balls in play or by the player if he is pursuing a ball.
- The safety of the player: The young women so far have not sought to hurt Bellinger, but there is no guarantee that this will always be true; there is always the possibility of a violent or disturbed fan charging the field.
- The safety of the player part 2: If the player is distracted or constantly feeling as if he has to keep an eye out for both the ball AND approaching fans, he might be distracted and be hit by the ball or another player.
So what can be done? Obviously, the ball club can and will pursue charges against adults who rush the field. In the case of the first young woman, however, she was only 14 years old and a minor.
The team is considering much more security down the foul lines both at home and in away stadiums to try and stop young women before they rush the field and will do more to try and make the penalties for this kind of activity more of a preventative.
In the meantime, anyone reading this: even if you love Bellinger, leave him alone to do his job, ok? Just love him from AFAR.