CHICAGO (MCT) - A couple of cute kids sat in the Cubs' dugout before Saturday's game.
The boys, maybe 9 or 10, were having a picture taken by David Knickerbocker of the Cubs' marketing department when one of them got an idea.
He told his friend to pose as if they were about to have a big fight in the dugout, like the one Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano had.
So that's what they did, cocking their fists as if they were about to sock one another in the face.
An hour later, the grown-ups took the field.
And on a beautiful day in the middle of a beautiful game - a double no-hitter in progress - Derrek Lee and Chris Young demonstrated why no matter how old or mature they might be, boys will be boys.
A childish fistfight broke out.
These guys were bigger than the tykes in the dugout. Lee is a 6-foot-5-inch athlete who was once offered a chance to play basketball at North Carolina. Young stands 6-10 and played basketball for Princeton.
And 41,632 Wrigley Field ivy leaguers looked on as the hitter and pitcher behaved like a couple of schoolboys.
"I don't know exactly what I did wrong," Young defended himself later.
What he did was hit Lee with a pitch . . . not on purpose, the Padre swore.
What happened next was that Lee walked menacingly toward the mound … not, as he should have, to first base.
Lee gave the Padre an earful. Young smarted off with something pithy that he probably learned at Princeton.
"Whatever it was he said, (Lee) didn't like it very much," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
No one but Young knows if his dangerous pitch was deliberate. But it was Lee who instigated this fight. He came out at the pitcher. He threw the first punch.
As thousands of impressionable children observed from the stands and on TV, a bunch of big-leaguers once again made a public spectacle of themselves.
Happy Father's Day, everybody.
Lee is supposed to be the classy Cub, a mature Cub, a grown-up Cub, a leader.
It is Piniella who kicks dirt and throws bases. It is Barrett who flips off his mask and throws punches. It is Zambrano who throws fastballs and fits.
It is Alfonso Soriano whose clowning after a home run Friday had a few of the San Diego Padres peeved to the extent that pitcher Jake Peavy alluded to Soriano as "a circus act."
Lee generally has seemed to be above such foolishness.
"I have great respect for him as a player," Young said.
Yet even the team's leader has come to be afflicted with Mad Cub Syndrome.
Whatever it was that possessed the Cubs' best hitter to take a swing at the visiting side's pitcher, it was precisely what Lee's team didn't need.
He hurt no one but the Cubs and himself. A certain suspension is going to knock Lee's indispensable presence out of a lineup that already is without the injured Aramis Ramirez.
Worse, he could have done irreparable harm. Lee could have broken a hand. He also could have broken Young's jaw, in which case a suspension would be closer to 30 games than to three.
Lee's impulsive actions even could have led to a serious injury for his own manager, inasmuch as the 66-year-old Piniella was knocked to the ground during the brawl.
Piniella shrugged it off.
"Things happen on a baseball field," he said, offering no opinion on his top gun punching his way into a suspension.
The Cubs have been making progress. They have climbed into second place.
They have dealt with a tantrum by Piniella, a fistfight between Barrett and Zambrano and a recent ejection of pitcher Ted Lilly for throwing at a batter.
They have dealt with a number of failures by the bullpen, the removal of Soriano from center field, the benching of Jacque Jones and the demotion of Matt Murton.
They have had to turn to inexperienced players in center field, at shortstop, at second base and behind the plate.
Now their team leader crosses his name off the lineup card because he can't control his temper.
And he wasn't in the game as his friend Zambrano lost a heartbreaker 1-0.
The run came after "Seinfeld" actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and called out: "Let's get some runs! And play nice!"
What a mature idea.
"Just play the game," the Padres' Peavy had said a day earlier, irritated by Soriano's hot-dogging after a home run.
Lee gets paid a ton of money to play the game. Now he won't be able to for awhile.
As for Soriano, to quote Peavy again: "They pay him $136 million to hit home runs. They don't pay him to be a circus act on the field."
This led to speculation that the Padres threw at Lee to get even for the stunt Soriano pulled.
"They picked the wrong guy," Soriano said, meaning if a Padre wants to hit somebody, it should be him.
Justin Hampson, the pride of Edwardsville (Ill.) High, was in the bullpen in the fourth inning when he abruptly had to replace Young on the hill.
"I just thought C.Y. would go eight, and Hoffy (Trevor Hoffman) would pitch the ninth and I'd sit back and enjoy it," Hampson said, not expecting to be needed.
It was his first chance to pitch at Wrigley, though he had been there several times as a fan.
Friday's game had two fans interfere with balls in play, plus Soriano's moonwalk. Saturday's had an all-out brawl.
"Everybody sure is passionate here about their baseball," Hampson said.
A few are too passionate for their own good. Lee was thought to be an exception. Turns out he's not.
(c) 2007, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.