Tomorrow’s game between the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles will be a bit different on Wednesday not due to who will appear but who will not be present . . . any fans. Due to the rioting and robberies in Baltimore this week, the teams have decided to hold a game without fans in the stadium — a possible first for the MLB (if you discount most days with the Oakland As). The question is why with the National Guard deployed and days of police operations the city cannot even protect a small area in the tourist heavy harbor area. They appear to be working off the question from the 1971 feature film, Suppose They Gave A War and Nobody Came.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has not exactly covered herself with glory during this crisis. She started out with a quote so dim that it rivals Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proclaiming during the 1968 Democratic Convention that “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.” As discussed earlier, Rawlings-Blake explained that she instructed police to not only give protesters room for the exercise of their free speech but “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” However, she can be forgiven for a mangled quote. What is less redeeming is the actual performance of the city under her leadership.
The damage to the city is not just in the looted and burned buildings or many injured in the streets. Baltimore’s tourist industry is in shambles with these images of people being robbed in broad daylight and stores being stripped of every valuable item and then burned. However, the greatest damage will be the image of an empty stadium on Wednesday. The city should have pledged a division of police to avoid that image to be transmitted nationally of a city that cannot even protect a relatively small area at the very heart of their tourist sector.
Now, I am not one to complain about no one going to a White Sox game. I am a born and raised Cubs fan. However, Baltimore and the MLB is about to drive a stake in the heart of Baltimore’s national image as they yield to what the mayor has called a bunch of “thugs” on their streets.