When fans come out to a Major League Baseball game, they expect to watch and enjoy their teams on the field in a safe and respectable manner. Sure, there might be some jeers from opponent's fans and the occasional heckling that sometimes accompanies it. However, in this day and age, we would all like to know that we should be safe at one of our most sacred institutions: a major league baseball game.
Unfortunately for Brian Stow, a Santa Clara County Paramedic and father of two, opening day was a harrowing and tragic experience. By now, this writer probably does not need to bring everyone up to date on the story of how two Dodger "fans" attacked and critically injured Stow at the opening day game between the Dodgers and Giants in Los Angeles two weeks ago. Stow is still in the hospital suffering from severe brain trauma and the two attackers are still at large. Hopefully that changes for the better, but in the meantime, there is a series to be played.
The Giants host the Dodgers this Monday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Giants enter the series at a 4-5 record after rebounding slightly after a dismal road trip in Los Angeles and San Diego to start the season. The Dodgers come into Northern California a game above the Giants and place their hopes in their talented young lefty Clayton Kershaw who dominated the Giants in the season opener. While the entire series promises to be one filled with all the rivalry, smack talk and hype that Giants/Dodgers games can produce, the elements of safety and civility among its fans remains more important than it ever had before.
The Giants are planning to dedicate Monday night's game to Brian Stow and his family and plan on making fans aware of various charities available for those who wish to help. The Dodgers have also planned to assist on this both in Los Angeles and during the team's stay in San Francisco. In addition, AT&T Park staff have promised to heighten security in and around the ballpark to ensure retaliation is out of the question. San Francisco Police is also involved to keep the peace.
Yet that peace must come from within the fans. All of us love to heckle and tease our rival fans in some form or another. This writer knows plenty of Dodger fans who, while are rooting for a despised rival, are still passionate baseball fans. They know their stuff too, and enjoy all the things about baseball that Giants fans enjoy. After all, baseball in all its greatness, is simply a form of competitive entertainment. It is not something to be fought, injured, or perhaps even killed over.
Hopefully, Giants fans can realize that as they host the rival Dodgers as there promises to be plenty of Dodger blues in the stands tonight at AT&T Park. Demonstrating passion for one's own team, yet restraining from the violence experienced by Brian Stow, is a key element which makes this sport so great. We should cheer and boo loudly, but it needs to end there.
All fans, wearing the orange and black or perhaps even blue, must respect the game and its fans and never allow themselves to stoop to such a hideous level.