Bad things have a way of casting a long shadow. It was three seasons ago that Giants Bryan Stow was mercilessly beat up in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and left for dead.
Wednesday, as reported by the Associated Press, jurors in the civil trial awarded Mr. Stow and his family about $18 Million in damages and ordered the Dodgers to pay $13.9M of that. The rest will be paid by the convicted attackers Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood.
This article is not to vilify the Dodgers, or even claim that security at Dodger stadium is worse than at many other ballparks around MLB or any other professional sports venue. As juror Carlos Munoz stated after the verdict, the Dodgers “did have a [security] plan, but somewhere along the line that plan broke. And it needed to be fixed. Hopefully we helped to fix it. … If you’re going to own a stadium, do it right.”
Though as a Padre fan I would argue that Dodger fans are typically rowdier than other fans, these days Giants fans are just as bad with their recent World Series success and Tim Lincecum owning the Padres. Sports is ultimately entertainment. Trash talking? It is as part of the game as bean balls, stealing signs, and bringing a sign to the ballpark to get on TV. What happened in that parking lot and countless other stadium parking lots is when perspective is lost and sports becomes a reason to act out like a juvenile. If a game of baseball can get you so heated that you physically crack someone’s skull in multiple places, reportedly with his wife looking on nearby, you have gone too far. If ruining a father’s life is worth it after your team loses 6-1 and someone gives you a hard time about it, you’ve gone too far. When you have lost perspective between sports and life – you have gone too far.
Another interesting piece in this settlement is that Frank McCourt, the former owner of the Dodgers who was in control at the time of the incident, was not found liable for the incident. This makes sense to me as well. While ultimately yes, he is the owner and responsible for his entire team, I do not think that any other owner could’ve handled the situation differently. Indeed the Dodgers as a franchise should be the ones held responsible.
In college football when it was discovered that Reggie Bush had accepted illegal financial gifts during his playing time there. Pete Carroll, the head coach at the time, was gone. Many were upset that Bush had to give back the Heisman Trophy, USC received scholarship and financial penalites, while Pete Carroll was running up and down the Seattle Seahawks sideline and leading his team to a Super Bowl this past February. Fair? Not quite. Yet like in that case, it is impossible to think that the Dodgers as an organization should not be penalized financially for their own lack of a cohesive security plan in full action. They are a big organization and know their civic responsibility as such.
Sadly, something like this is likely to happen again. One of the byproducts of sports is competition. Competition breeds hostility by it’s very nature – the key is understanding where the line stops. When do players stop shaking hands after the final out? In hockey they still shake hands with each other. Last year Matt Kemp waited outside the players tunnel after Carlos Quentin had started a brawl with the Dodgers Zack Greinke and breaking his collarbone. Really? Eye for an eye? I thought we were past that. Could players on the field set a better example for the fans who worship them?
For the Stow family, their Bryan will never be the same. He won’t really understand what this ruling means. He will have no use for money except for his family to pay his medical bills and ongoing care costs. As Giants skipper and former Padres manager Bruce Bochy stated when reached for comment, “What happened shouldn’t have happened. We have to keep that in mind. But also for the fans coming to the ballpark, you need the proper security,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a situation where you’re afraid to go to a game or you can’t enjoy yourself.’”.
Well said Bruce. As the Padres continue their series in LA against these same Dodgers, let’s root, root, for the Padres…but remember, the ultimate team we are rooting for is being decent human beings. That’s more important than anything else.