UPDATE: Since there are people who will be directed here from The Big Lead, I feel like I should say this (and I can't get his site to allow me to login and comment)--my account of the evening was not excessive. The actions of security were excessive. I can only call it like I see it, and it obviously does me no good to negatively report on the goings on at a place I love. I feel like I may have even downplayed the severity of the situation. I was literally shaking after it happened. Also, in case it's not clear, I in no way think it was appropriate for the woman to do anything other than go back to her seat once she fell. But that still does not condone the behavior of the guards in question.
Oh, and I'm waiting for a response from the Dodgers. The appropriate people have been notified of the incident.
There are rules when it comes to attending a baseball game. I get that. It's a contract when you purchase that ticket; read the fine print if you don't believe me. We pay money, and we agree that it's okay if flying projectiles come right at our heads (even if some of those flying projectiles could be removed by banning maple bats, but I digress), as long as we get to see a game. We agree that running onto the field will surely get us arrested, because the field is for the players, not the fans. Fine. Understood.
I get that baseball teams have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this issue. No excuses about coming onto the field. Do it, and you'll be escorted off, thrown in Dodger Jail (yes, that exists), and then possibly taken to real jail. Great. The players don't need to be accosted while doing their jobs, so that's a fair rule. You see how I'm not opposed to rules? That's important to remember here.
Let's go to Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. I had seats in the front row, right next to (or, more accurately, directly behind) the left field foul pole. In the top of the fifth inning (I'm pretty sure, though I guess it could have been the fourth; things turned into a blur after the incident), Manny threw a ball into the stands about five or six seats to my right. Some people went crazy trying to get it, and a woman fell over the wall onto the field. She stayed on the ground for a few seconds, then I guess decided that, since she was on the field, she might as well go for the ball, which had rolled toward the Dodgers' bullpen.
This is where things went terribly wrong. This woman was not running toward the playing field. She had a glove in her hand, had clearly fallen over the wall accidentally, and was obviously going for the ball that was running along the wall. A security guard finally saw the woman when she started to run. Don't ask me how he missed her while she was on the ground after falling; seems like all of this could have been avoided if he had just come over right when she fell. This leads me to believe perhaps he didn't want to avoid the situation, and chose to let it develop. Of course, I can't prove that.
I looked away from the woman just in time to see the security guard (whom we had taken to calling "Tex" in previous games, but now he'll need a new, less positive, nickname) take off in a sprint directly at her. I figured he would just grab her and stop her, but this guy, apparently deeming the woman a huge threat to national security, tackled her by the neck, pinning her against the wall. Right now, I can still see this woman's head as the guard forced it against the wall. I looked away because I was seriously afraid I was about to watch her neck snap. I didn't want to see someone die at Dodger Stadium. My fiance kept watching and said that then, with his arms still around the woman's neck, the guard threw her to the ground. By the neck. I looked back and saw that, at this point, three of his coworkers had come over to help, and they decided that they needed three of them to hold this woman down and cuff her, then drag her off the field.
Here are the pictures I was able to snap:
I was shocked. I know the woman should not have been on the field, but was that level of aggression really called for? I just don't see why it was needed. I could not believe this had just happened directly in front of me, at one of my favorite places in the world, no less. The completely unnecessary violence of the act just floored me, and I really didn't know what to do or say or think. For at least an inning, I couldn't even pay attention to the game (I totally missed the Padres' third run, for instance). I was shaking. I was angry and I was upset, and of course there was virtually nothing I could do about it.
But now I can write. And I can make sure the story is out there. And I can ask the Dodgers if they actually condone (or encourage) this kind of behavior from their security staff. Remember how I said I'm okay with rules? That's true. But are the guards not asked to exercise a little bit of common sense? Or are they just trained mercenaries who see a person running on or near the field, and immediately switch into "attack" mode? I'm not even getting into the fact that the guard, a male, did this to a woman. That's not the issue here, though I do think it makes the incident all the more unbearable to comprehend. But I would be feeling the same way if this had happened to a man.
This was a guard on a power trip, a man who had been told to do take charge of a situation with apparently no regard for the actual details. It's easy to believe that an eight-year old kid could have been on the field chasing the ball, and the guard would have tackled him with the same force. This was violent. This was unnecessary. And it was just plain mean. It's hard not to think that this incident is just an extension of the mentality of this nation: act first, ask questions later. Diplomacy? What's that? Just put a boot in their asses. It's the American way. But that's probably an essay topic for another day.
I don't want to believe that the Dodgers would accept this behavior from an employee. I can't believe that, or I lose all faith in the team I love. I was ready to leave last night in the fifth inning of the last home game of the regular season, all because something awful and egregious had occurred right in front of me. Normally I consider leaving a game early because of a terrible pitching performance or poor defense on the part of the Dodgers. But this time it was due to a man exercising his power in a deplorable way.
I have been to sixteen games at Dodger Stadium this year. I have spent god knows how much money on this team, what with the price of tickets, concessions, and the occasional souvenir. It's hard to believe that part of my money goes toward the paycheck of the man who committed this crime (and that's what it was, and I'd testify in court on behalf of this woman if she decides to sue, which she should). Frank McCourt has absolutely profited because of my loyalty.
So here's the deal, Dodgers: I'm not going to games next year if this man is still employed by the stadium. It will kill me, and I will suffer, but I'm a woman of principle, and I hate violence. I especially hate it when it comes from people who are in a position of power and choose to abuse that power. That's what this man did, and I won't stand for it. I was planning on buying a season ticket package for next season. That won't happen now, unless I hear something about this man being fired for his actions (disciplinary action or some crap like that is not enough--this was not the first time this guard has acted this way; I'm sure of that).
Josh Rawitch (VP, Communications) will be getting an email about this, because he's my only contact at the Dodgers. But I'm also going to branch out for this one. According to the Dodgers' web page, Lon Rosenberg is VP of Stadium Operations, and Shahram Ariane is Director of Security and Guest Services. They'll be getting emails, too. And the guard's picture will be posted on this site until the appropriate actions are taken. Think I'm overreacting? Find anyone else who was anywhere near field section 49 at Dodger Stadium last night. The reaction from the crowd was uniform. People were calling it unnecessary, and when the guard came back out, he was booed mercilessly. I was not the only one feeling this way, for sure.
I guess if I'm not going to games, I won't be writing about the team either. So maybe this will just go back to being a Red Sox blog. It'll be hard, but I have to stand for something, right?