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Home field disadvantage

The incident that kept the weekend warriors — especially anyone this side of the Mason-Dixon line — glued to ESPNews could have been much worse.

The punishment was even more painful than what was handed down by what seemed like an angry nun.

The fan — if he could even be called that anymore — who practiced his right hook on New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield on April 14 had his season tickets revoked by the Boston Red Sox.

On top of being blasted by everyone on TV, from Steven A. Smith to Tom Arnold, Christopher House is now facing disorderly conduct charges.

The other fan — the one who threw his $45 beer on the Tampa-born Sheffield — has been banned from Fenway Park for the remainder of the season. The fan to be named later will be facing the same charges.

So, no baseball for a year. That probably only stings a little, since the Saux, besides David Wells’ inability to pitch, are off to a decent start.

Something doesn’t seem right, and it’s not the fact — surreal as it is — that the Saux are the defending champions.

What’s not right is the fans.

What happened? When did everything go downhill to the point where fans are lashing out at the athletes they paid to see?

But what’s even worse is what sports fans have become: hooligans. This isn’t Europe.

What’s next? Throwing flares at Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets? Pegging Luis Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks with a snowball?

Fans are becoming the main event at sporting events. They are being chased down for taking a picture of Tiger Woods. Rednecks are jumping umpires after nickel-beer night. Detroit residents — fresh from their trailers on 8 Mile — are taking on the Dennis Rodman of the 21st century, Ron Artest.

It’s shocking to see everyday citizens act this way.

And what, those who actually are defending him — the select group who gets together and prays to Ted Williams’ frozen head in a metal jar — are blaming the rivalry?

This isn’t a rivalry. It’s hatred. It’s disrespect.

Those in rivalries — Florida and Florida State; Michigan and Ohio State; Texas and Oklahoma; the Dodgers and the Giants — are good-spirited good sports to each other and good-natured fun.

This was not fun.

It’s the Yankees and the Red Sox. Period. It’s worse than you think.

This scene was just wrong, though the attempts of House and the other fan were just pathetic.

There are at least 86 reasons why their punishments should be harsher. It’s not like he had a history with Sheffield.

It’s not like his great-great-great grandpappy took a swing at Sheffield’s grandpappy when the Boston Pilgrims played the Page Fence Giants in 1906 and then the fan to be named later’s ancestors spilled their ale on him.

That never happened.

There was no reason for this ever to happen. The class of the average fan has been cancelled.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, in a statement Wednesday after the MLB decided not to admonish Sheffield, said: “We do not condone any interaction between fans and players whether initiated by either fans or players. I am pleased that Gary Sheffield showed restraint in not overreacting to the improper and clearly aggressive action of the fan in question.”

No permission. No overlooking, though not a sports fan from Toledo to Waterloo has turned away from this.

This needs to stop. There needs to be an end.

Games don’t need to be so vulgar and violent that a part-time trucker would be embarrassed of the things he would overhear, places where a sailor wouldn’t even take his mother.

No baseball for a year.

Should’ve taken away his beloved Saux’s World Series title for the cheap shot.

So, to you fans, the ones who can’t stay on the other side of the fence, who can’t enjoy a game, who can’t just let it go, next time think before you guzzle.

And next home game, stay home.