Dodger Stadium's Problem
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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.
This is going to be a big week for Los Angeles and its baseball team, which – let's face it – is a major influence on LA's image.
Tonight in San Francisco - within the hour actually - we'll find out how that city reacts to having LA's blue uniforms on its home field. Within booing distance.
It'll be the Dodgers first time up north since a Giants fan named Bryan Stow was beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium on opening day.
The mayors of the two cities have spoken, repeatedly. So have the police chiefs. Now it's up to the fans there to set the right tone.
And that's just spring training for the real test.
That comes this Thursday when the Dodgers come home to play at Dodger Stadium -- under a national microscope.
Maybe an international one, given how iconic the team is and how global its fan base has become.
The injuries to Bryan Stow, who's a paramedic – and a father up in Santa Cruz – have revealed a ragged tear in the social fabric of Los Angeles.
And it's messier than just upset over the McCourts and their divorce spectacle, with its gossipy disclosures of lavish personal spending and healing psychics on the team payroll.
For years, some fans have complained that they felt unsafe going to games at Dodger Stadium.
The official crime stats might not show it, but the crowd at Dodger Stadium – the overall atmosphere – has become rougher.
More fueled by young male energy. And by alcohol – both the expensive free-flowing beer sold in the stadium, and the harder stuff smuggled in -- in bottles and flasks.
I've had friends tell me they don't go to games any more, citing run-ins with groups of guys who pass bottles around or stand up in the rows and block the view.
Or who get too aggressive in their cheering for the Dodgers -- or take offense at nearby fans who don't cheer with them, or who don't play along when the beach balls start bouncing in the stands.
Who hasn't seen a scuffle at Dodger Stadium in recent years?
Language has also been a sore point from some fans – especially those who take their kids to games. Or used to.
Granted, these are probably not the fans who would have gone to Raiders games, back when LA had a football team whose fans reveled in acting a bit thuggish.
Or who appreciate the vulgar but very popular chants that ring out at Staples Center during Kings and Lakers games.
But the concerns about Dodger Stadium are real.
At first, it seemed as if the Dodgers thought they could contain the opening day incident by calling it an isolated trouble.
The team seemed surprised that the violence would touch off such an emotional reaction.
So finally you have Mayor Villaraigosa, police chief Charlie Beck – even former police chief Bill Bratton -- stepping in to save the Dodger image. And LA's image.
Starting Thursday, Dodger fans will see an LA cop on the way in, on the way out and all during the game. At least that's the plan.
And the McCourts will pay for the service. As they should.
Go to KCRW.com/LAObserved to tell us what you think.
For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.