Monday, September 29, 2008

Cruel and Unusual

I suppose, given my opinions of a lot of people in this country, that I shouldn't be too surprised by some of the reactions to my post about the guard at Dodger Stadium. Sexism, racism, and just plain stupidity (comparing it to 9/11? Really?) should have been expected. But I'm still a little shocked at some of the responses.

The woman should not have been on the field. And once she fell onto the field, she should not have done anything other than get back to her seat. I have never stated anything other than that. But her behavior does not give security the right to behave the way they did. The idea that they had to stop her "by any means necessary" (which appears to be the opinion of several readers) is ridiculous.

As the last "anonymous" comment on that post says, yes, I did know the situation because I saw it unfold. But as soon as I saw the woman get up, I started watching the security guard. I watched his eyes, saw him see the ball first and the woman next, and then watched as he tackled her. Then, as soon as he threw her on the ground, he grabbed the ball from her hands. He knew that's what she had been after. Otherwise he wouldn't have been so keen to rip the ball from her hands immediately. It was like he took pleasure in making sure she didn't get her prize.

And even if the guard had no idea about the ball, which I doubt, the woman was not running toward the field. At all. So chase her, yes. That's fair. Grab her by the arm. Even grab her in a bear hug to stop her. But I watched this guy go for her neck. He wanted to use the maximum amount of force, and he did. Also, where was his shout of warning? I watched the guy the entire way to the woman, and he never made a sound. Why? Here's an important fact--when he tackled her, she wasn't moving. She had grabbed the ball and was completely stopped, and he clotheslined her. There are no justifications for this behavior.

You can call me hysterical (like the one guy who doesn't even like baseball did; why are you at this site, buddy?) and tell me to stop crying, but I won't apologize for believing that the violence in this case was unnecessary and was perpetrated by a man who believes himself to be better than anyone not wearing a uniform. Berkowit28 asked how I knew the guard had done this before. I guess I should have been more clear. It's not that I have seen or heard about this guy doing this same thing at Dodger Stadium. It's just that, by watching him, I know he's executed this move before, and his willingness to blindly attack without discretion makes me think that this is not the first time he has abused his (faux) authority. His advanced age makes it all the more likely that he has made this move a few times, and maybe sometimes it was even the correct move. On Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, it was not the right thing.

I have heard back from Josh Rawitch of the Dodgers. Understandably, he's pretty busy with the gear-up for the postseason, but he was kind enough to get back to me and say he would follow up when he could get more information. I expect that he will, because Rawitch is that kind of guy. In the meantime, I sent my post to a few columnists at the Los Angeles Times. We'll see if it's of any interest to them. I doubt it, but I guess anything is possible.

The odds are that the Dodgers will not fire this security guard. But I was not just shooting off my mouth when I said that I would boycott the stadium if that man has a job. I'm not happy about it, but I can't go to a place where this kind of behavior is acceptable. I will never find myself on the field in a position to be tackled, but this incident certainly makes it seem like security has the freedom to do as they please. And since they obviously aren't trained or encouraged to judge a situation and react accordingly, anything could happen. And I'm not interested in being there when it does.

Friday, September 26, 2008

History of Violence

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?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Has It Really Been Three Weeks?

All right, here we go. Today is the day I decide to get back into the action, and it also happens to be the day that the Dodgers clinched the N.L. West, thanks to a Diamondbacks' loss. I'll be at the game tonight, the final regular season home game, and I can't wait to enjoy the party. Today I purchased tickets to game three of the divisional series, and I can't wait for playoff baseball.

There is so much to say about the Dodgers' season, but it's been three weeks since I last wrote, and I just don't have the time or energy to get into all the details. The Dodgers are the champions because they got hot at the right time, and Arizona finally showed that they weren't really that great to begin with. That's all it took, and anything can happen in the playoffs.

Let's talk Red Sox. They're most likely going to the playoffs as the Wild Card from the American League, barring a mini collapse from the Tampa Bay Rays. The unfortunate thing is that means the first round opponent will be the Angels. I hate them, and I really don't want to see the Sox play them. But, it wouldn't be the first time the two have met in the first round in recent years (2004 and 2007) come to mind, and things turned out all right for the Red Sox. So, I'll try to remain optimistic.

The final weekend of the season will be interesting, but only because we still don't know who the Dodgers' first round opponent is. It could be the Cubs, Phillies or Mets, and I'd be okay with anyone but the Cubs. I think the Dodgers could beat them, but I still don't really want to see them play in the first round. I'm praying for the Mets, because I'd love to see the Dodgers attack that bullpen. But I guess that could end up being a case of "be careful what you wish for." It will be an exciting weekend, especially with the possibility of inclement weather on the east coast. Should be entertaining, which is exactly how the final weekend should be.

One more thing--on Facebook, a friend of a friend started a group called "Vaginas for Obama." The reasoning behind it, as far as I can tell, is that women vote with their vaginas, and our vaginas like Obama. With McCain's selection of Palin, I like to think the slogan serves to indicate that McCain will not be getting my vote just because he chose a running mate who happens to have a vagina. I bought a button-making machine, and I started making buttons (they're 1") with the group's name. Want one? I'll send it to you. Seriously. Just email me.

So much more to talk about here, but I'm getting ready to head to the game tonight, and tomorrow I'm heading to Disneyland with my parents. But don't worry--you won't have to wait three weeks until you hear from me again. I promise.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Busy Busy

I am in Idaho.  I have a hard time watching any games up here. But I am playing with my baby cousins and hanging out by the pool.  The Dodgers are winning.  The Red Sox are winning.  Life is good.  More to come very soon.  Sorry for the delay.