By now everyone has heard at least something about the farce that’s been going on down in Phoenix: the Diamondbacks have been asking patrons sitting at field level behind home plate to not wear opposing team jerseys. One video clip even showed an Arizona flunky giving a guy, who was wearing a Dodgers shirt, a D’backs jersey to wear over his “offending” outfit. The team is claiming that they’re not forcing anyone to change clothes, just “encouraging it”–but that sounds like public relations blather in the aftermath of being exposed.
This is pathetic on so many levels it that it almost doesn’t merit comment, except that apart from being weak, cowardly, un-American, and just downright rude, it also leaves the door wide open to a much greater problem.
It should be self-evident that being overly concerned about what (presumably) paying customers are wearing to your games is totally absurd. Baseball fans, no matter whom they root for, should be welcome in every ballpark where MLB games are played; teams should relish the opportunity to host out-of-towners, or even contrary locals, no matter what they’re wearing, so long as the outfit stays within the bounds of the law.
But by making any moves towards discouraging patrons from wearing the other team’s colors–even “all in good fun” acts–the Diamondbacks have left themselves open to a particularly nasty potential problem. Some of their fans might read the team’s policy of “encouraging” fans to wear only Arizona gear as an official seal of approval for disrespecting a visiting fan’s rights. So what? How bad can that get? Just ask Bryan Stow how bad can that mentality get.
According to reports, Stow’s assailants attacked him because he was wearing Giants gear at Dodger Stadium. When the next visiting fan gets attacked at an MLB game, what happens if the incident occurs in Phoenix? Could a potential victim’s lawyer claim that the Diamondbacks created a hostile environment at Chase Field by harassing fans wearing visiting team colors? Maybe–and the consequences of such a claim could be enormous.
Step one is to stop this nonsense right away. And then step two is to do some major damage control–and make sure security is tight at all Diamondbacks home games.