Cody Bellinger likes baseball fans as much as the next guy, but a few are starting to bug him.
Bellinger, right fielder for the L.A. Dodgers, suddenly became an unwilling magnet for fans who run onto the field to hug him. After this happened in two straight games, Bellinger spoke out Monday and said he wants it to stop – before it gets out of hand.
"I'm just trying to play a game," he told Yahoo Sports. "I don't think I should have to worry about who's gonna come on the field and whatnot."
The first overly friendly fan was a 15-year-old girl who ran onto the field on a whim to hug her "favorite baseball player." The second night, a woman ran onto Chase Field in Phoenix "seeking an interaction with Bellinger," as Yahoo Sports phrased it.
Speaking after that second hug, the young ballplayer said he figured the woman was harmless, but he worries that if this trend continues other fans might be pose a threat.
"Like I said, it could potentially get dangerous, especially if it keeps getting blown up like it is," he said.
In our narcissistic, selfie-driven age, when unusual behavior is captured and instantly shared with the world, running onto a baseball field to hug a player during a game hits just the right note of weirdness. But the internet didn't create such stupid fan behavior – it just made it easier to show everyone. Football fans were streaking en masse across college fields during games back in the '70s, and the drunken fan who makes a game trying to outrun the pursuing security staff during a rugby match has popped up on the pitch from time to time through the years.
The fine print on the back of an MLB game ticket doesn't explicitly prohibit hugging players, but you can get tossed out of a ballpark if you walk onto the field or disrupt the game in other ways, so hugging must be wrong, too.
We worry that one stunt leads to another, and fans might be driven to one-up the person before them. The late author Hunter S. Thompson supposedly said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
We're with Bellinger on this one. Keep the ballfield for the players and leave your hugs at home.