Dodgers, Giants find solace in boos
After a show of unity denouncing fan violence, two teams become rivals once again
SAN FRANCISCO -- The first boos Monday night were muted and unsure of themselves.
Too much had happened in the week leading up to Monday's Giants-Dodgers game at AT&T Park.
Too much was at stake.
For a city, for a game, for a family still grieving and praying in a Los Angeles-area hospital.
And so it was oddly quiet the first time the Dodgers got runners into scoring position in the second inning of Monday night's game.
Was it OK to boo?
Was it OK to jeer?
The answers to those questions were made individually throughout the stadium. One by one, until finally the boos sounded like they always do when these two great West Coast rivals play each other.
Loud, maybe a little rude, but exactly what a rivalry should sound like.
In the end, that might have been the biggest victory of the night.
After a week and a half of lament, after two cities bonded in mutual outrage over the senseless, unprovoked attack on Giants fan Bryan Stow, the game went back to being a game and fans went back to being fans.
"It was tense tonight, but it was still awesome," said Dodgers fan David Morris, who drove from Chico, Calif., to attend the game. "I love the banter of the rivalry. The booing, the taunting, the teasing.
"I hated what happened down in L.A. That should've never happened. Nothing should ever get to that level. You can boo and yell and banter without it ever getting to that."
As we spoke, a Giants fan booed Morris at the top of his lungs. It was loud, but not hostile.
The Dodgers were leading 5-0, and the home crowd was annoyed.
Morris smiled, raised and pointed the bottle of beer he had in his hand, then calmly answered, "Scoreboard."
The Giants' fan nodded, then kept walking across the left-field concourse.
"I knew coming here tonight I was going to get a lot of that," he said. "I can always take the booing. As much as they want. But if the Dodgers are winning, I am going to point to the scoreboard."
Before the game, the men from both teams stood at the pitcher's mound, observed a moment of silence in honor of Stow and his family, and asked for peace.
It was an exceptional show of unity and class that seemed to set the tone for the night.
"I don't think I need to tell you guys about the Dodger-Giants rivalry," Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt said, in an emotional address.
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"It's one of the most storied rivalries in the history of the game. But in honoring that rivalry, and honoring the Stow family, we ask that you respect the rivalry, and you respect each other as fans. You guys have rights as fans. You guys have the right to cheer. You have rights to wear the black and orange. You have rights to wear Dodger blue. You have rights to be frustrated when one team loses and excited when one team wins.
"We're fierce competitors, but when the last out is made, that rivalry ends on the field. So please respect that, and in your excitement or in your frustration, don't take it out on another fan if you don't agree with who they cheer for."
Affeldt seemed to choke up several times during the address to the crowd.
His message was seconded by Dodgers second baseman Jamey Carroll.
Up in the stands, the man charged with keeping the peace at AT&T Park smiled broadly.
"We really liked the message before the game," said Jorge Costa, the Giants' senior vice president for stadium operations. "I've been in sports for over 40 years and I don't remember that message ever before. I think it really struck a chord."
Costa said after the game that there were a few arrests and ejections for public intoxication, profanity and antisocial behavior, but that he was not aware of any assaults.
One of the fans in attendance at Monday's game was Brian Green, one of Stow's best friends and colleagues at American Medical Response in San Jose.
They are both lifelong Giants fans.
"This was the first game I've been to in 10 years," Green said. "But I think it's important we go to the game."
Green spent most of his night collecting donations for Stow and his family. In all, $58,800 was raised in and around AT&T Park. Another $61,000 was raised at a similar event in Los Angeles.
"It's really amazing to see this happen, to watch all these people coming together," Green said. "People were just walking up to us, giving to us without even thinking twice about it. I know Bryan would be really touched."
It's hard to say why Stow's beating has resonated so deeply in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
There have been other senseless acts of violence among fans.
There have been worse acts.
But maybe it's not important why.
Maybe it's just important that it finally has.Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.