Friday, October 22, 2004

Baseball/Society: Get A Grip, People.

I'll give New york fans (Yankees and otherwise) credit for only one thing: They know how to celebrate a Championship with (no, not class, but) a degree of restraint and control. Maybe it's because they've won enough that's it's become routine, but I lived in Metro New York from 1986-2001 (the last six in Brooklyn) and during that span there were eight Championships (4 Yankees, 2 Giants, 1 Mets & 1 Rangers) and I don't remember any significant riots, destruction or trouble after any of them.

I read a story like this, and all I can think is a shifting, "What the fuck is the matter with people?"
Red Sox Fan Killed by Police Projectile
BOSTON (AP) - A college student celebrating the Red Sox come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees was killed after a police officer called in to control the rowdy crowd shot her in the eye with what was designed to be a non-lethal projectile.

Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old journalism major at Emerson College, was hit by a projectile fired by an officer on crowd-control duty. Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, died of a head injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital later in the day.

My first reaction was, "What the fuck is with the Police, shooting people in the face with crowd control weapons?" Then I thought, "Okay, errant rubber bullet, a horrible accident." Then I read:
"Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said officers were using projectiles "designed to break upon impact, dousing the target with (pepper-like) spray.''

"While I firmly and emphatically accept responsibilities for any errors,'' O'Toole said at a news conference Thursday, "I also condemn in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks (Wednesday) night who turned our city's victory into an opportunity for violence and mindless destruction."

First, that Commish sounds like she's got something to prove. When your Police just killed an unarmed female student, tone down the "punks" talk. Your Department screwed up, show some fucking contrition. I don't know the circumstances of the incident, stories have little or no details. But unloading on crowds with what sounds like pepper-spray paintballs is just overkill. And if it is a pepper-based weapon, am I wrong in assuming the face is the target? "What the fuck is the matter with the Police?"

But it really comes down to the fans. I just don't understand the mentality that results in the riots, fires and car-flipping that seems to be the response to winning a Championship. I could understand it more after losing, but winning? All I want to do (drunk or not) is jump up and down, run around hugging and high-fiving people. When the Pats won a trip to the SuperBowl in '97, I was there, and had no desire to run down and tear up the field or pull down the goalposts. I never run out from a bar or Superbowl party and start lighting cars on fire, and I don't understand why anyone would. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Boston is going to burn when the Series is over -- win or lose. "What the fuck is the matter with these people?"

It sounds like the Police over-reacted in this situation, but they have to be prepared for total mayhem, so I'm sure they are twitching with a hair trigger. The Boston mayor is "considering prohibiting liquor sales and asking bar and restaurant operators to ban live television coverage during games to curb the rowdiness. Since people won't accept responsibility, I, as mayor, will take it into my own hands,'' Menino said Thursday. No alcohol or live games in bars? That's insane! there'll be a riot when he makes the announcement! But what the hell is he supposed to do?

People are fucking idiots. Sure, the Sox might win the first Championship in 86 years, or they might blow it in spectacular fashion. Either way you don't need to run outside throw anything through store windows, flip anything over or light anything on fire.

UPDATE: The only excuse for wanton destruction is the inability to get your computer to properly print a document for no apparent reason. If there were a car in my office right now, it would be upside down and engulfed in flames...

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