Once again, a sun-drenched opening day at Dodger Stadium was marred by an appalling act of violence. A San Francisco Giants fan wearing his team's logo was taunted, then brutally beaten in the parking lot after the Dodgers' 2-1 win over the Giants. Bryan Stow, the 42-year-old fan and paramedic, remains in a coma.
Over the last decade, Dodger Stadium has been the scene of multiple arrests, a stabbing and worse. In September 2003, a Giants fan was fatally shot in the parking lot. In response to all this, the Dodgers organization and the city have increased the police presence, forbidden tailgating (though it still goes on), stopped selling beer in the stands (though it is still available at concession booths) and cut off all alcohol sales after the seventh inning.
Whether this latest incident was alcohol-related is unknown. The assailants have yet to be found. But whatever caused the incident, it leaves us stunned and frustrated. Baseball isn't quite the pastoral game it once was. On-field rivalries are more intense, and so is the experience of watching a game. "Fan" comes from the word "fanatic," and that origin sometimes shows itself in displays of rowdiness and roughness in the stands. Although throbbing music and liberal quantities of beer don't turn most people into crazed maniacs, they don't calm anyone who already is one.
We're not suggesting that the stadium go dry and games turn into prayer services. And we realize that the violence is the fault of just a few fans. But trying to fix it has got to be the work of all the fans. They can start by reporting anything they know about last week's incident. Witnesses should come forward, and be assured that their identities will be protected.
There is a $100,000 reward — $25,000 of it provided by the Dodgers — for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack. In the stadium, fans can text 323-Dodgers if they see violence or rowdiness, and security will be dispatched to deal with it. Although we don't want Dodger Stadium to look like LAX, security should be increased in the parking lots, and the organization should make sure that concessionaires do not sell alcohol to anybody who is clearly intoxicated.
Meanwhile, a vigil outside the hospital where Stow lies was called for Wednesday evening by a group of community organizations. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa taped a public service announcement, flanked by a group of Dodgers fans ("the Burke family") and Giants fans ("the Sanchez family"), that aired at Sunday's game. It may take a sea change in attitudes to stop the violence that breaks out at Dodger Stadium, but if the fans decide they won't tolerate excessive rowdiness when they see it happening around them, that's a good start.