The Baltimore Orioles postponed their game with the Chicago White Sox because of
rain riot on Monday. The forecast, calling for more of the same tonight, necessitated another cancellation.
While denied an opportunity to witness the Orioles climb back to .500, Baltimoreans watched local youths, on seemingly every channel no less, hold impromptu expositions of their throwing skills. No radar gun clocked an official mph on the rocks flying from their hands. But it was the stuff of Sid Finch. They displayed amazing accuracy hitting their targets. A few prospective right fielders clearly would not need a cutoff man, presuming a baseball travels as far and as fast as those pieces of concrete, to gun down the runner heading for home. Who says baseball is dead in the inner-city?
Twenty-three-years ago this week in Los Angeles, the Dodgers postponed four games as a result of the Rodney King riots. When the “not guilty” verdicts came down for four cops caught on video baton-beating King, the paid attendance in Dodger Stadium stood at 36,639. The park eerily emptied by the time the Philadelphia Phillies secured a 7-3 victory. To the backdrop of fires and sirens, the police provided the Phillies an escort of their team bus, which, uncharacteristically, picked them up at the dugout. They also offered some advice. The cops instructed the team that each player should take a baseball bat back to the hotel. “They said lock your door and don’t let anybody in your rooms,” Dale Sveum, a Phillies first baseman enjoying an RBI and a one-for-three night, remembered to ESPN’s Doug Padilla. “If there is a knock on your door ignore it.”
So, we’ve seen this before, and given the 63 deaths that resulted from the L.A. Riots, we’ve seen far worse than what we see in Baltimore.
In both instances, African-Americans in cities run by African-American mayors complained of the institutional racism of their local governments. The grievances more specifically focused on the aggression of law enforcement. The violent redress undermined the point by displaying the absolute passivity of the police and the absolute lawlessness of those most vehemently criticizing the law enforcers.
The lack of opportunities the rioters decry surely become scarcer after such temper tantrums. Who wants to open a business in the neighborhoods afflicted by the unrest? Who wants to teach in the schools nearby? Who wants to move there? What does the property damage do to the property values, insurance rates, and the availability of goods?
Surely scenes of locals decrying injustice as they loot the local CVS and complaining of their conditions as they set fire to their own neighborhoods would trouble but not surprise the Sage of Baltimore. “No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people,” H.L. Mencken wrote.
The great masses in the streets torching cars, brick-braining policemen, and prioritizing the looting of liquor stores supports the Baltimore Sun newspaperman’s depressing wisdom. Maybe if, a la Sparta conquering Athens during the Peloponnesian War, Baltimore sacked Washington or Wilmington, then outsiders might at least understand what they condemn. Who gets people who seek a better community by burning it down?
Like baseball games, cities need enforced rules, clear-eyed umpires, and citizens committed to fair play. The hoodlums driving stolen cars through intersection conflagrations, slashing fire hoses, and smashing windows all in plain view of police show that Baltimore lacks this.
“We will bring order,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake vowed last night. Any good baseball umpire will tell you that order, once lost, returns slowly if at all.