NEW YORK -- Just three batters into last night's game at Yankee Stadium, Hensley Meulens had a terrific diving catch, Jose Canseco had a fit over taunts about Madonna and a fan named Kenny Shabs had a police escort to the parking lot.
All on the same play.
The trouble started moments after Canseco hit a bullet to Meulens in left. Trotting off the field after the out was recorded, the Oakland A's 230-pound muscleman ran toward the box seats to the right of the Oakland dugout, where Shabs, a 30-year-old telemarketer from Lyndhurst, N.J., had been taking photographs.
Canseco pointed at Shabs, and soon A's manager Tony La Russa and a cluster of other A's had joined him.
According to Shabs' friend, Michael Riordan of Lyndhurst, HTC Canseco said, "If anybody says anything about my wife, I'll bash your head in."
Canseco, who recently reunited with his wife, Esther, after an estrangement, was seen leaving pop star Madonna's Manhattan apartment building early last Thursday, photos of which appeared in the New York Post.
Canseco said the two are friends and it was his only chance to see her while in New York. "She's a friend," Canseco explained before last night's game. "She's a nice lady."
Still, the Yankees faithful let him have it from the moment he stepped out of the A's dugout.
"Everybody in the section was screaming at Canseco [when he was in the on-deck circle]," Shabs said. "Everybody. It was, 'Hey, where's Madonna? Where's your wife?' "
Shabs insisted, "I didn't say a peep to Canseco. I'll take a polygraph. I'm not a drunken slob. I'm just an average, ordinary middle-class guy trying to enjoy the ballgame."
Canseco, who had seven Madonna tapes on the shelf of his locker, thought otherwise. "Don't come out and point at players, don't confront them," he said afterward. "Don't talk about his family and his mother."
So why didn't he go into the stands after Shabs, a large fellow (6-2, 220) himself? "I'm a very cautious guy," said Canseco, whose A's are here tonight to begin a three-game series with the Orioles. "I know the consequences of going after him."
Just yesterday, Cleveland's Albert Belle was given a week's suspension for intentionally hitting a heckler with a baseball.
Shabs was charged with disorderly conduct and "flopping," the Yankee term for not being in your proper seat. He said he would file a harassment complaint against Canseco. Asked why he didn't resist the authorities in view of his stated innocence, he said, "That's the worst thing you can do.
"I'm ticked off. I'm really ticked," said Shabs. "He doesn't intimidate me. I don't like to be threatened like this."