Two men are behind bars and police are searching for two more following the stabbing death of a baseball fan wearing Dodgers gear after attending Wednesday's Giants-Dodgers game. The tragedy following Wednesday night's game goes beyond a rivalry - fan violence is now officially now a San Francisco epidemic. Yahoo! SportsTalk Live's Jim Kozimor and Ray Ratto discuss.
The city has finally gotten the reputation it used to try and foist off on Philadelphia, or New York, or Foxborough, or Oakland – as a dangerously unsafe place to watch a sporting event. This latest incident, which actually occurred about three blocks from the park, involved almost a dozen people, including three Dodgers fans, and police believe the teams were the crux of the argument that led to the tragedy. Three people were detained, and we will see if they are held, or charged.
And while you’re sputtering to ameliorate your city’s rep by bringing up the Brian Stow incident at Dodger Stadium, in which Stow, an EMT and Giants fan was beaten nearly to death, let us remind you: Saying, “We’re not the only ones” isn’t nearly good enough, and “They did it first” is the most contemptible attempt at logic. In fact, at this point, no reasonable person would even try the old “You’re better than that” line, because we can no longer prove that is so.
In fact, this happens way too often at Candlestick Point and Third Street, often enough to make sensible people wonder if it isn’t time to apply some good old fashioned international soccer standards to crowd safety.
As in, segregated seating areas, with a line of policemen down the demarcation aisles. Separate gates for ingress and egress. And maybe even playing a game before a closed stadium, just to get the point across more forcefully. Those things aren’t done in America, because in most places, they don’t need to be done. But San Francisco, the place that patented the term “mellow,” crisis point has been reached. In fact, there have been deaths at both our public venues in the last few months, and an Internet-famous brawl during the Colts-49ers game.
Lectures aren’t getting this done anymore, and apparently shame is working no better. San Francisco has become That Place. And yes, not everyone has contributed to the city being That Place. The vast majority of fans at both venues are swell folks, or at least not offensive ones. Most people in Philadelphia and New York and Foxborough and yes, Oakland, are as well. They do not get into brawls or wield weapons or act like criminals, either.
But San Francisco has to own its rep now, no matter who might get their feelings hurt in the process. The innocent go down with the guilty, because that’s the way reputational gravity works. Ask the people in Philly, and New York, and Foxborough, and Oakland – a place which has quietly cleaned up its image from the horror shows of earlier times.
The empty building plan will never be implemented, of course, for the same reason that alcohol will never be banned – too much money to be lost. Cash has always trumped safety, and shamefully always will. That, too, is a universal condition. But the concept of the fan-free game ought to be talked about, and loudly, because San Francisco has been through stadium death and violence too many times to pretend it can even see the high moral ground from where it stands. Because if increased security doesn’t work, maybe increased security and national humiliation will.
As depressing a thought as this might be for the locals, it’s worth a very loud and shame-filled conversation.
- Ray Ratto, CSN Bay Area