It’s always amusing to me that there are fans out there who think that because they pay out the ass for a ticket to a game that they can act as they please or bring in what they want. Now, considering that most of your stadia and arenas are paid for with taxpayer cash in some form these days, maybe they ought to be, but that’s an entirely different issue. This time, we are dealing with signs, specifically, signs expressing outrage at Barry Bonds, and let’s just say that the San Francisco Chronicle’s editors are probably engaged in a bit of sensationalism by going with “SILENCING ANGRY FANS” as a headline for this Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams-penned story (the Starting Five will tell you that both of those writers have a tendency towards the sensational when it comes to Bonds to begin with.)
The article focuses on a D-backs fan who brought nine anti-Bonds signs and had them all taken away by security, and got a letter in response:
A month later, after [Don] Regole had written the team to complain, he got a letter from the Diamondbacks. One sentence caught his attention: “As Mr. Bonds approaches the homerun record, we have been asked by Major League Baseball to carefully screen the signs that are brought into the ballpark by our fans.”
Regole’s experience, as well as similar incidents occurring at ballparks across the nation, highlights the uneasiness of Major League Baseball as it tries to cope with the steroids cloud hanging over Bonds and the game. In some instances, fans have been unimpeded in their attacks on the Giants slugger. At other times, though, the image-conscious league has wielded its power to stifle some of the public dissent.
“It stinks that Major League Baseball would silence fans in hopes of A) letting revenues keep pouring into the game and B) silencing this whole steroids era and letting the controversy kind of slip by,” Regole said in a recent phone interview.
I sense if MLB really, really wanted to silence fans on the issue, they would have taken all efforts to keep anti-Bonds signs out of L.A., Boston, and various other cities where I’ve seen worse in the stands on the TV telecasts. The article also provides examples of products with a message (the foam asterisk, BoycottBarry.com’s blindfolds and T-shirts) as examples, and that’s always a little more troubling due to the influence of a massive corporation’s influence on retailers that sell its products, but again, no one’s really being “silenced” per se.
I suppose I just find it sad: the ostrich-like behavior of baseball as Bonds is pilloried for their sins as well as his own (perceived and otherwise), and the fake shock expressed by much of your sports writing community and, unfortunately, much of fandom regarding the entire enterprise. I still don’t have proof that Barry Bonds failed a drug test — we’ve got leaked grand jury testimony, a lot of circumstantial evidence, and it’s enough to convict in the court of public opinion.
Silencing Angry Fans [San Francisco Chronicle]