Dodger Stadium is my personal baseball haven. There are definitely nicer ballparks in the country, but Dodger Stadium is home. I love whenever I come home during the spring or summer and being there early to catch BP and a ballgame between my beloved Dodgers and whoever's in town that week.
Rewind to Opening Day in '09. HUGE day for the Dodgers. Orlando Hudson introduces himself to Dodger fans by hitting for the first cycle in almost 40 years. Andre Ethier blasts a pair of bombs. Billingsley was filthy. All against the Giants.
And all around me, the Dodger fans were verbally and physically assaulting the Giants fans.
This is where I begin to have problems.
Sitting in the right field pavilion, I saw about a half dozen Giants fans at different points throughout the afternoon. Each time one would walk to their seat, the entire pavilion would boo them mercilessly—often without necessarily knowing what they were booing about.
This was usually accompanied by a hail of Dodger Dog wrappers, pieces of bun, peanuts, peanut shells, and popcorn.
That's just cruel.
Now, I live in the Bay Area—enemy territory—these days. Have for a while now. Every time the Dodgers come to town, I find my way over to AT&T Park to see my beloved Bums at least once.
And I encounter swarms of Giants fans who—get this—joke with me as we walk up to the stadium, verbally spar good-naturedly about our teams, and then head off to their seats. Yeah, they wrinkle their nose a bit when a Dodger fan sits near them, let me hear it if and when the Dodgers lose, and otherwise totally ignore me.
The difference between Dodgers home fans and Giants home fans? Giants home fans know how to show respect to the fans of the other side.
Rivalries are about more than just hating another team and its fans, Dodger Nation. Rivalries are founded because another team has commanded our respect along with our hatred. No matter what else happens, all baseball fans have two things in common: we love the sport, and we're human.
I'd almost dismiss this behavior...except apparently, it's not limited to the Giants.
Last fall, I heard a number of disturbing and violent reports coming from Dodger Stadium during the 2008 NLCS. Apparently, Phils fans with the faith and money to do so had followed their beloved Phils to LA.
And were greeted at the stadium by people who threw things at them and dumped beer on them and swore at them from every seat.
Do Dodgers fans really want to be labeled as the Raiders fans of baseball? A bunch of fanatical hooligans that should frighten opposing fans into being nowhere near the stadium? For Lasorda's sake, we even had a stabbing in the parking lot!
C'mon, folks—it's baseball. It's not worth that.
I'm not saying don't let opposing fans hear it about their team. Rib 'em a little. Something would be horribly wrong if we didn't.
But do it with a little basic human respect. You'd want the same in their park.
I sure as hell do.