Bryan Stow’s beating at the Dodgers’ home opener left me with a lot of angst and sadness. The whole thing kept me up one night and I started thinking of survey questions. I know my experience isn’t generalizable. After all, sick I call Dodger Stadium one of my happy places. Was I just wearing Dodger blue-colored glasses? Would others’ experiences be radically different?
I’m still unsure. I’m waiting for more response to the survey before I close it and begin analyzing.
In thinking about the atmosphere, I reflected on my own experiences. Dodger Stadium is one of my happy places, but I’m not always happy there. That’s inevitable as I’m going to see my team lose. However, my worst experience had nothing to do with the actual game. In fact, I needed Baseball Almanac to refresh my memory about the game details (SF v. LA, Giants won 1-0).
In September ’08, I attended the last home game of the season with my brothers, Papá Chepe and six cousins. The cousin/grandpa outing was my cousin Ernie’s idea. He asked Chepe about the last game he attended and found out that it had been years, maybe decades, since he’d been to Chavez Ravine. We bought a dozen tickets in right field on field level. We chose those seats because they were close to the handicap parking and Chepe wouldn’t have to walk much or climb up/down too many stairs. We arranged ourselves in one row with Chepe in middle of his nietos.
The game was slow and scoreless until the 11th inning, but I still witnessed the kind of drama that gets my heart beating fast and makes my palms sweaty.
In the 4th inning a middle-aged Latino, I’ll call him el Veterano, in front of Rene turned around. Being a metiche (busybody) I leaned over across Adrian so I could hear what el Veterano was saying.
“For the past 45 minutes I’ve been sitting here listening to you talk shit in front of my wife and kids. I’m tired of it.”
I wasn’t surprised he was complaining. Earlier in the game, I shushed Adrian and Rene because of their language. I expected someone to turn around and ask, “can you guys watch your language?” They talked a lot too and only quieted down to drink their beers, munch on snacks, and eat Mexican candy.
I knew the guys were at fault, but I was on their side as soon as el Veterano began speaking and said “shit.” I didn’t like his tone nor hypocrisy. I figured he should use FCC approved or “pre-school toy” friendly words if he was going to complain about cursing.
Rene responded with a half apologetic, half surprised look. Adrian remained quiet. I leaned in closer.
El Veterano went on, “And it’s even worse that you sound like a nigger.”
I was shocked. Really? He used that word? In public? To complain about strangers’ language? And next to his wife, teenage son and pre-teen daughter?
I couldn’t help it. I jumped in.
“You’re offended by his language and then you go and use a racial slur?! I can’t believe you’re complaining about our language and saying you’re offended. You’re offending me with that word!”
My face reddened, my hands shook and my blood pressure shot up.
El Veterano shifted in his seat. His wife and kids, who had previously been listening, didn’t dare turn back to look at us.
“I… I’m sorry,” he said. He turned back to face the game and never turned around again.
The guys looked at me, still in shock over what had just happened. Beside me, Chepe sat oblivious as to what had just happened. Danny and Nancy leaned over to be filled in on the chisme. Adrian said, “I knew as soon as he said that you were going to jump in. I’m glad you did.”
Later in the game, Adrian (also a metiche) told me he’d read El Veterano’s pre-teen daughter text message to a friend. It read, “what are you doing, bitch?”