After a year inside removed from our sports teams, this summer was meant to be a joyous reunion inside the cathedrals to the sports we love.
The vaccines rolled out, our stadiums filled up, and incidents of sports fans acting like children began to spark up again. It started in the NBA playoffs, with stars like Russell Westbrook and Trae Young having popcorn thrown and spit rain down on them from the stands.
On Saturday night, the return of America reached a new low in all-too-familiar fashion.
At the end of the sixth inning of the Nationals-Padres game at Nationals Park, gunshots were fired and at least four people were shot outside the third base gate. The sounds of gunfire sent panic throughout the stadium as the game was paused.
Announcements over the PA system encouraged fans to stay inside the stadium, and they scrambled into dugouts, suites and bathrooms trying to take cover. Players ran into the stands to grab their families and take them back to the clubhouse to stay safe.
Patrick Corbin, the Nationals starting pitcher for the game, was seen roaming the concourse talking on the phone with his family as people ran for cover.
Shots fired outside Nationals Park. Many people, including Nationals SP Patrick Corbin, fled for the concourse. Many have taken shelter in bathrooms or suites. @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/BephZ0kBVO— Nick Leimbach (@nleimbach) July 18, 2021
It’s a scene that we have seen far too often in America: people running in fear trying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the fear of gunfire, all while trying to enjoy themselves in the most basic of situations.
We have seen people have to fear for their lives in schools, movie theaters, grocery stores, and now even a baseball game.
A baseball game, the purest form of entertainment we have in this country. What’s more American than a baseball game, right?!
How about not being able to enjoy a Saturday night at a baseball game with your family without the fear of being shot? All of a sudden not being able to enjoy even the simplest of pleasures in life is as American as it gets.
It should not be that way. Nobody should have to go to a baseball game and fear for their lives.
This is not normal, events like this should never be normalized. We talked so much about “the new normal” during the pandemic, and we reverted right back to what was our old normal as soon as they let us back into stadiums.
Now, as the Delta variant rages and vaccine rates stall, it is more clear than ever that we learned little to nothing from the last year and a half. We came out of one of the darkest years in our history and went right back to our old ways because this country decided long ago that guns matter more than people.
And America’s ways have finally crossed over into our sacred and beloved baseball. I go to baseball games with my family all the time and all I can do is picture my family and I in that kind of situation. It is something that is all too relatable that we can place ourselves in and picture the fear.
This event will not change anything, and neither will my words. All I can hope is that it will stop and make people think about where we are and where we are going. It is almost like we forgot how to behave during the pandemic, but maybe we never really knew how to in the first place. Heck, Red Sox OF Alex Verdugo had a baseball thrown at him at Yankee Stadium at almost the same time the shots were fired outside Nationals Park.
A fan threw a ball at Alex Verdugo... pic.twitter.com/V8F55GE4fM— Justin Groc (@jgroc) July 18, 2021
This summer was heralded as America’s comeback. The return to normalcy we all waited for.
Well, America is definitely back. Sadly, that may not be a good thing.