April 13, 2011

Um, is this dude serious? Or, Replica Jersey Rabble Rousing at the Expense of Bryan Stow

On Monday night at AT&T Park, two opponents came together in a display of solidarity to express one unified message: violence and tragedy have no part in a baseball rivalry.  Jeremy Affeldt of the Giants and Jamey Carroll of the Dodgers addressed the crowd, imploring fans to respect the game and each other.  It was the ultimate display of sportsmanship, and more importantly, a bittersweet tribute to Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was brutally assaulted outside Dodger Stadium on March 31st. Stow, a father of two and a paramedic, remains in a medically induced coma, while his assailants remain unknown and at large.  It is an incredibly sad situation, one that never should have happened.  But I have tremendous respect for the way that both teams handled the aftermath – with moderation, seriousness, togetherness, and class.

You know, unlike this asshole.

Meet John Steigerwald, a columnist for the Pennsylvania based Observer Reporter.  Forget for a moment that he looks like Ron Burgandy’s creepy pedophile uncle.  Ignore the 'stache and sweet wave of red hair.  He has a blog, Just Watch the Game, which I also advise you to ignore.  He lost me somewhere between his “Ann Coulter Nails It” post (as if Ann could ever nail anything besides Mr. Ed), his yearning for Cuba to “become our 51st state,” and his boycott of opening day until Major League Baseball institutes a salary cap. To top it all off, he is apparently a Pirates fan. Which means that he has supported a loser for the past decade.  But the blog, as special as it is, really doesn’t compare to his column about Bryan Stow, entitled “Know when you’ve outgrown the uniform.”  The infamous column where he blames Stow for being heinously attacked.

From the start, you can see where Steigerwald is going.  But it seems unbelievable that he would actually dare suggest it.  After explaining the horrific extent of Stow’s injuries, he somehow ludicrously justifies the attack by saying that the two Dodger fans were “high on something or things, but somewhere in their sick, juvenile minds, they probably also thought they were doing their duty as Dodger fans.  They were protecting Dodger turf.”  No, really – that is what he wrote.  It is okay to nearly murder someone who has opposing beliefs if he or she happens to be near your crib.  Sort of like stabbing the mailman for delivering the wrong package to your home.  Steigerwald fails to mention that Stow was merely walking to his car, that he posed no threat, or that such violence is never acceptable.  Instead, he infuriatingly mocks Stow and the gravity of his condition.  He writes:
Maybe someone can ask Stow, if he ever comes out of his coma, why he thought it was a good idea to wear Giants' gear to a Dodgers' home opener when there was a history of out-of-control drunkenness and arrests at that event going back several years.
I mean, really?! You muse that the guy may never wake up and then blame him for having the audacity to support his team? And this comes after you argue that it was okay to assault him in the first place, because Dodger fans were just supporting their team and protecting "their turf?" It is like faulting a rape victim for wearing a short skirt. I have been to baseball stadiums all over the East Coast and I have worn my Yankees jersey to each one. Still, I have never been viciously beaten.  Which is shocking, I know. I have a “Suck It, Boston” t-shirt and I pretty much guarantee that if I wore it at Fenway, no one would tackle me from behind for disrespecting Yawkey Way.  And Boston fans are mostly terrible, let’s be serious.

But Steigerwald just cannot get over the fact that adults wear replica jerseys.  He treats this as a foreign and preposterous notion deserving of violence.  He asks if “40-something men . . . think that wearing the jersey makes them part of the team?” He asserts, as if he did a science experiment, that the jersey has no effect on the outcome of games. That we jersey-wearing adults actually scare players. He proposes a psychological study to determine “if all those game jerseys have contributed to the new mob mentality that seems to exist in the stands these days.” And he warns that we should not “expect any help from the guys on the field who are wearing the jerseys that look just like [ours].” I read the piece about nine times, scouring it for a hint of humor or sarcasm or satire – there was none.  Or if it existed, it was absolutely lost on me. The worst part? Steigerwald couldn’t even spell the guy’s name right; until the post was later corrected, he referred to the victim as “Bryan Snow.” Not Stow. 
Needless to say, John Steigerwald left me sort of speechless. Which is extremely difficult to do.  Joe Posnanski often leaves me speechless in a “wow, I wish I could write half as brilliantly as him” sort of way. This was not such an experience. Steigy simply left me dumbstruck with his crass indifference.  I am not sure if he wrote it for page-views or simply for “rabble rousing,” like the header on his blog says.  Or maybe he just really is this ignorant and soulless. On the bottom of the post, however, there is one line that is like a ray of clarity in a sea of insulting nonsense: “Due to an overwhelming response, comments have been stopped.”  The angry commenters were probably wearing replica jerseys.  

What happened to Bryan Stow is heartbreaking. And I hope that he gets to enjoy baseball games for decades to come.  But this tragedy had little to do with baseball fans or replica jerseys or ballparks.  It involved two criminals that deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  It happened to occur outside of a baseball stadium, on the periphery of one of the greatest rivalries in sports.  But that rivalry should not be marred by these two “fans.” Or, for that matter, by John Steigerwald.  It is nearly impossible to make Dan Shaughnessy look like a genius.  But, congratulations, it has finally been done. 
(To donate money to the Bryan Stow Support Fund, please go here).

4 comments:

  1. Wow! This makes me sad, frustrated, disgusted & pissed off. JHOP you nailed it. Well said.
    Off to put on my Giants jersey that I will never be too old to wear.

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  2. Val, thanks so much. And if it was appropriate to wear my jersey to court, I would basically wear it every day. :)

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