Brian Stow, John Steigerwald and Fan Behavior


It was two weeks ago to the day that Brian Stow was beaten within an inch of his life at Dodgers stadium. Two weeks and yet I sit here tonight still in disbelief that such a thing happened at a major league ballpark. I also sit in disbelief that more people, outside of his friends, didn’t come to his aid more readily. In some ways I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised given the day and age that we live in.

Of course nothing could have prepared me for the column that John Steigerwald would write for the nine days later. As of tonight, the counter at the top of the page indicates that the article has been viewed 227,073 times.

Considering the number of sources (writers and others) that have stood up against Steigerwald’s position, that’s not surprising. To write a reaction to something you have to give your audience the ability to read what you are reacting to and that leads to a lot of referral traffic.

As for me, some arguments are so ridiculous, so asinine, that they outclass my ability to formulate a logical and coherent response to them. Fortunately, FanSided’s own Justin Klugh was up to the challenge when he wrote the following:

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I hope you take the time to read the above and if you want to check out the article that kicked off the firestorm, there is a link to it in Justin’s article as well. As for my simple reaction to Steigerwald’s article, I view it as irresponsible journalism written by someone who has no earthly idea what it is to be a fan of sports or of competition of any kind. Interestingly enough you can “rate” Steigerwald’s piece after you read it. There is no indication of how many of those 227,073 people have taken that step, but it does give the current rating of all the votes and right now it sits at 1.05 on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the lowest.

This tragic event – the beating of Brian Stow, not the article by Steigerwald – has led to many discussions about ballpark safety and the appropriate level of security at baseball games. In some stadiums, like Dodger Stadium which did not have the best safety reputation to begin with, I’m guessing these discussions are long overdue.

There is another aspect of this event that should be considered and that is fan behavior. To that effect I humbly BEG you to check out the video by Paul Sullivan on the site Sully Baseball.

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Paul makes a lot of great points and does it in a very lighthearted way. I disagree with him that yelling “you suck” at players on the field is appropriate fan behavior, but I’m probably a little jaded. After all I was sitting a few rows behind a guy at Kauffman Stadium on Opening Day this year who wanted Bobby Abreu to know that he was an inferior player by yelling “you suck!” over and over again. This drunken fool yelled this not once, not ten times, but at least thirty times. There was no other creative trash talk involved, just “you suck” over and over and over and over again.

Thankfully Mr. You Suck and his buddies, who it should be mentioned clearly tired of hearing “you suck” about as fast as I did, left the stadium 2 seconds after “last call” was announced my the PA announcer.

I suppose yelling such a thing is okay, so long as you keep count and don’t exceed a dozen “you sucks” in the span of a few minutes.

From all of this I know three things for certain:

  • Justin Klugh and Paul Sullivan understand what it is to be a true baseball fan.
  • John Steigerwald has no earthly idea of what it means to be a fan.
  • What happened to Brian Stow should have never happened regardless of the jersey he was wearing or how vigorously he was supporting his team in hostile territory.
  • Whether you are 1 day old or 150 years old, wearing your team’s gear to a ballpark is always acceptable behavior.