Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Will The Rivalry Ever Be the Same Again?

They were the Jints and they played in the Polio Grounds.  They were the Gnats and we’d be swatting them around the field at Candlestink Park.  Yeah, real mature comments from Dodgers fans spanning two coasts and several generations.  
Brooklyn Dodger fans

Bobby Thompson runs into the dugout amongst celebrating Guant fans following his pennant winning homer in 1951.
Well they returned the favor and referred to the Dodgers as the Dogs and Chavez Ravine as Chavez Latrine.  Boy did they love ribbing Tommy Lasorda.  Back in the New York days their fans called our players Bums and Dodger fans wouldn't stand for it, WE were the only ones that were allowed to refer to our boys as bums!  No one else!   

Insults upon insults.  Good natured fun in most cases.  Did all that change on March 31, 2011 when Bryan Stow was attacked?
For the first time in my 15 years in San Francisco, I attended a Dodger game at AT&T Park and covered up.  I wore no Dodger cap, no blue colors whatsoever.  It just seemed that it wasn’t appropriate, and then, I was taking my grandson Eric, and there was no way I would risk his safety over the allegiance to a baseball team.

The hatred towards all things L.A. was palpable.  People taking donations outside and inside the bayside ballpark announced, “Donations for Stow, Giant fan beaten unconscious in L.A.”  Chants were angry and had fervor.  “Beat L.A.” was about as loud as I had ever heard it and the spewing profanities were reminiscent of Candlestick Park days.  A young woman marched up and down my aisle with a homemade sign that read “L.A. fans are  All Haters!” which I thought was a bit out of line.  A contingent of Giant fans were dead set on taking the rivalry to a new level.  My adult son had hinted that I shouldn’t attend.  In the past I used to see large pockets of Dodger fans that would gather along the right field foul line.  Those numbers weren’t there anymore.

Dodger fan wearing Giant cap carries sign expressing his disgust for the Bryan Stow attack during the opening series in Los Angeles.

Dodger fans were embarrassed by the Stow incident.  It reflected on the team we love.  We knew the attack was by a couple of thugs, but they did it simply because the poor man was a Giant fan.  Our fan base was being blasted nationwide.  I hated turning the radio on in S.F. where the anti-Dodger sentiment and comments were reaching all-time high levels.

And the two organizations did something unfathomable.  Something I never thought I'd see.  They met in the middle of the diamond on April 10th and in a show of solidarity, told the fans that violence was unacceptable.  They each had a spokesman that told us essentially that "it's only a game."  I think it worked.  San Francisco fans were quieted.  Emotions were subdued.  It was a complete 180 degree shift in emotions that Monday evening.  It worked for one night at least.

I still get the sense that things aren't the same anymore.  The rivalry got a lot more personal.  It is more about "life" now and less about a game.  When I converse with Giant fans today, the good natured ribbing isn't there anymore.  There is more genuine hate.  And I think that's really unfortunate.

About a month ago I bought an Andre Ethier jersey.  I thought it was a worthwhile purchase.  Yes, I turn 50 years old this year.  I know, that is a bit old for wearing authentic team jerseys, but I can't help it.  The little boy in me still exists.  I love donning the jerseys.  But today's announcement that the female driver of the getaway car of the two attackers was wearing an Ethier jersey has pretty much assured me that I'll never wear that thing, especially up here.

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