An unusually wild brawl at the Reno Aces ballpark led to several suspensions last week. As those players begin to suit back up, the team is arranging meetings with some of its upset fans to clear the air. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports.
After the incident, the Pacific Coast League decided to suspend half a dozen Aces players, along with five players from the Isotopes. Additionally, one Isotope, who is credited with instigating the brawl, was actually demoted from Triple-A play.
Dick Davies, a sports historian and professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, says he was surprised to see such a raucous interaction on the field.
"Very seldom do you see this type of episode even at the Major Leagues," Davies explains. "Oftentimes, the two benches empty, the players push each other around, and they go back and play. In this particular case, there was a real attempt to do mayhem, which led to the very long suspensions."
Players were suspended for up to seven games.
Eric Edelstein, the Aces' chief operating officer, says that the team has seen no drop in ticket sales, but there have been mixed reactions from fans.
"We heard it both ways. I mean, we heard some fans that thought it was fun and exciting," Edelstein says, "and we heard from fans that were appalled and mortified by what they saw."
Even if the team's overall image doesn't suffer much from the incident, Edelstein says something like this can haunt individual players over time.
"If you're really, really, really good at the game, people might overlook some of your behavioral flaws," Edelstein explains. "But once you get to a point where there's an alternative--Hey, we could have this guy or this guy--the good person always wins. And when you're in the minors, you're fighting to be the alternative all the time. "
Along with missing several games, the players must pay fines as well. Those amounts are undisclosed, but Edelstein says the financial toll is significant. In the coming weeks, he'll be setting up meetings with those players and disappointed fans to address their concerns and try to rebuild the team's reputation among its most loyal followers.