I should say from the outset that I do not know that my feelings on this matter are correct. I do not actually know that I can precisely put my feelings here into the right words. I also do not demand that you agree with me. I do not even expect you too. I might, indeed, be surprised if you do. But this has been gnawing at me for a few weeks now, and yesterday evening's Shaikin report brought it to the forefront:
I am not entirely comfortable turning Bryan Stow's savage beating at the hands of Dodger "fans" into a point of argument in the ongoing drama surrounding Frank McCourt's ownership of the Dodgers.
Some quick background: yesterday, Bill Shaikin reported that Tom Schieffer's investigation into Dodgers operations goes beyond the team's books. It stretches, Shaikin notes, to interviews conducted with former employees on, among other topics, stadium security. Such is the extent of Baseball's concern that it sent a six-person tax force to evaluate these issues on-site.
Now, I am all for addressing too-real dangers of being in the wrong place at the wrong time at Dodger Stadium. I am also all for holding the appropriate people accountable for their actions via both civil and criminal legal processes. That may very well include the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stow's family has already sued the club, and I would not be human if I did not hope that the club's liability to Stow, if any, be resolved quickly and justly.
All that said, I can't get all the way on board with using this tragedy to support the boisterous (and still growing) call for Frank McCourt's ouster. It is very difficult to explain why I feel this way. I've edited this piece more than perhaps any other I've written. But I think my gut opinion on this issue comes from two places: one is the logical and methodical side of my brain, and the other is purely emotional.
First, I think it's important to remember that people did this to Bryan Stow. People I do not know, but who I am certain I do not like. People who see a black-and-orange clad fan, and, through some combination of ignorance, substances, anger, and lack of respect for themselves and others, beat that fan to as close as someone who is alive could be to being dead. I do not think that, when you're dealing with people so obviously immoral and perhaps inhuman, you can ever systemically eliminate the risk of something like this happening.
Now, did Frank McCourt do everything reasonably prudent to mitigate the risk of this happening? It is sure damning that, at the time of the incident, the club did not employ a full-time head of security. As well all know too well, it is not like there were no indications of serious problems with security in (and particularly around) the stadium. It is very sad to say that this incident probably did not shock anyone who has spent much time in Dodger Stadium parking lots during Giants series.
And the potential failure to adequately provide for fan safety is, I think, very much fair game for MLB's investigation into how Frank McCourt has run the Dodgers. If cutting security costs was done without sufficient exploration of the cuts' impact on fan safety, that's another reason to believe that Frank McCourt may not be the right person to helm the ship going forward. If such cuts were made because Frank and Jamie wouldn't even travel first class--no, they needed to travel by private jet--then yeah, that's obviously bad.
But I just can't help myself from having a negative reaction every time I perceive someone as making a direct link between the premise (Bryan Stow was savagely beaten after the Dodgers made cuts in security spending) and the conclusion (MLB needs to force Frank out). There's just too much in the middle we don't know. There's too much in the middle that truly determines whether the link is real. The conclusion is so powerful, so damaging--that Frank McCourt played an integral role in a series of events that resulted in a man's near-death--that I am just uncomfortable taking it as truth without much more information.
By nature, I guess, I am just suspicious of conclusions drawn on the recent occurrence of an extreme event. I am especially suspicious of such conclusions when employed for use in furthering an agenda; here, using Bryan Stow's awful fate as a major factor in MLB's seemingly-inevitable determination that Frank is unfit to own the Dodgers.
It might be true. There is certainly voluminous evidence that Frank and Jamie did not run the Dodgers as we, or Major League Baseball, would have the club run. And I've still done a terrible job here putting my thoughts into words: I do not mean to relieve Frank of any responsibility when it comes to what happened to Bryan Stow. I do not mean to say that Frank's potential failure to take all reasonably prudent steps to create a safe fan environment should not be a factor in MLB's investigation.
So maybe the emotional approach will make my feelings clearer: I do not want Bryan Stow's story to somehow be cheapened by becoming a front in the ongoing battles between Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball, and Frank McCourt and fans of the club. I do not want the tragedy of what happened to Bryan Stow to be somehow dulled by turning his story into something agenda-carrying groups--MLB, Frank McCourt, ourselves--use to make a related-but-not-immediately-so point.
I worry that, the more we use Bryan Stow's beating to call Frank a negligent owner, and the more Frank has to defend the club's actions and attempt to show that security was adequate, the less Bryan Stow's tragic fate stands on its own. It gets turned into something else. And maybe that something else is something bigger. Maybe it ends up being emblematic of Frank's failure as the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maybe it is the stark and overwhelmingly obvious impetus forcing the Dodgers to finally make Dodger Stadium as safe as it ought to be.
But maybe it also makes us feel less sad about what happened to Bryan Stow. This is the wrong word, but when you politicize an incident, you risk stripping that incident of its own emotional weight. And I, personally, would feel that something would be lost about the individual tragedy that is Bryan Stow's story if it becomes something else, even if that something else is something bigger.
But you can't have it both ways, I guess, and the future of fan safety at Dodger Stadium is, regrettably, more important than any one fan, regardless of the colors he wore. So as Bryan Stow's story becomes something bigger, which seems inevitable, I hope the last couple paragraphs will remind me to always be sad about Bryan Stow himself.
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