How bad is it? So bad that its badness actually qualifies as national news.
By way of background, Bryan Stow is an EMT and a devout San Francisco Giants fan who went to see them play the Dodgers in L.A.’s home opener. He wore a Giants jersey to the game; afterward, two Dodgers fans jumped him and his friends in the parking lot and beat him so severely that Stow needed emergency surgery and had to be placed in a medically induced coma. Doctors say he’s suffered brain damage. Here’s a photo of him with his two young kids before he was stomped nearly to death for the crime of rooting for the Giants on Dodger turf.
The scene is now set for the column that I’m titling, Important Lessons for Bryan Stow.
Maybe someone can ask Stow, if he ever comes out of his coma, why he thought it was a good idea to wear Giants’ gear to a Dodgers’ home opener when there was a history of out-of-control drunkenness and arrests at that event going back several years…
Are there really 40-something men who think that wearing the jersey makes them part of the team? It was cute when a 10-year-old kid got that feeling by showing up at Three Rivers Stadium in a Pirates jersey, but when did little boys stop growing out of that?
Here’s tip for you if you actually think that wearing your team’s jersey makes you a part of the team:
Obviously, not every fan who wears his team’s jersey to a game is looking for someone from “the enemy” to beat up. But maybe somebody should do a psychological study to find out if all those game jerseys have contributed to the new mob mentality that seems to exist in the stands these days.
Luckily Mrs. Stow wasn’t at the game, as one can only wonder per this logic what risks she would have been deemed to have assumed by wearing a Giants jersey to Chavez Ravine. San Francisco sports writers are understandably horrified by the piece; follow the comments on Steigerwald’s own page to watch readers give it to him with both barrels. Hope this guy enjoys his next career.
Update: Incidentally, since when is Dodger Stadium a hotbed of team pride so fanatic that it would spill over into psychosis? A story from my own impetuous youth: I, a diehard Mets fan, was in the left-field stands at Yankee Stadium in 1997 for the first regular-season interleague game between the two teams. Against all odds, mediocre Mets starter Dave Mlicki shut out the defending champion Yanks, 6-0, striking out Derek Jeter to end the game. The Mets fans in the park danced in the aisles — oh, how we danced — and yet, even having just suffered a high-stakes humiliation, the soulless frontrunning Yankee fans did no violence to anyone. That’s the way it ought to be. Intense hatred, but without bloodletting. Never, ever would have guessed that L.A. would be the city to break that rule.
Update (Ed): Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time it’s happened in LA. When the Raiders played in the Coliseum, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan got badly beaten in the stands for wearing a Steelers jersey and being a little too enthusiastic. Angelenos at the time figured that it was the Raiders mentality, but here we are again.
I grew up watching baseball games at Dodger Stadium. The fans there had a national reputation as the most laid-back in the league. When I was kid, you’d hardly even hear booing during a game, just silence or polite applause for the visitors. Legendary game-caller Vin Scully set the tone for Dodger fans everywhere (and still does) with his sportsmanlike good will for home team and opponents alike and fair play. Whoever committed this vile act ruined something very special at Dodger Stadium, and hopefully this will shock Angelenos into realizing just how valuable that was.