Parking Lot B. I kept hearing it over and over again on the news last night. Parking Lot B. The news that I couldn’t take my eyes away from. Parking Lot B. The news that a horrific tragedy had occurred at the Washington Navy Yard. Parking Lot B. Which is close to where I work, not far from where I live, someplace I’ve driven by quite often.
I wasn’t going to write about this tragedy, thinking it was inappropriate. But they kept showing footage of it on the news last night, and kept mentioning Nationals Park, which is in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. Events that impact society inevitably also impact baseball, the players, and the fans. It is a part of Baseball Sociology.
Yesterday, Parking Lot B at Nationals Park became a symbol of the tragedy that occurred down the street at the Washington Navy Yard as families were instructed to go to there to await news and be reunited with their loved ones who work at the Navy Yard. Pictures of the stadium and Parking Lot B were in the papers and on TV. Even when I tried to turn away from the sad events, I was reminded of what had happened. The scoreboard section of the Washington Nationals’ website simply said: Postponed: Tragedy.
The mood in Washington, DC, remains somber today. People are shocked and saddened. Those who weren’t directly impacted by the event may not know what or how they feel. Nonetheless, when something like this happens, there’s always someone who points out that baseball is just a game:
- Fredi Gonzalez, Braves manager: “It makes our game seem so unimportant when stuff like this happens. … Stuff like this shouldn’t happen in the United States…. But it does. More and more.” (Reported by the Atlanta Constitution-Journal)
- Dan Haren, Nationals pitcher: “Kind of the general consensus was that we really didn’t want to play, just out of respect for the families and everyone involved. … We’ll still be thinking about it tomorrow. But, this is our job and we’re going to have to try to come out and play and try to win a baseball game, as inconsequential as that may seem. We’re going to have to come out and do our jobs.” (Washington Times)
- Chris Johnson, Braves third baseman: “There were a lot of guys that didn’t really want to play, that thought it was kind of disrespectful to play.” (Atlanta Constitution-Journal)
- Scott Downs, Braves pitcher: “Nobody is thinking about baseball. Baseball is a game. You look at the real-life perspective when things go on. That’s the last thing I want to do or any team wants to do, especially when something is going on five minutes down the road.” (MLB.com)
- MLB.com also reported on some of the Twitter comments from baseball players.
- Even the Washington Post’s headline read: “Navy Yard shooting a reminder to Nationals, Braves that baseball is ‘just a game.’”
For some reason, the role of sports after tragedy is often noted, perhaps a sign of the inseparable link between sport and society. After Superstorm Sandy, parking lots the Staten Island Yankees’ MCU Park were used as a FEMA distribution center. Shea Stadium served as a relief center and place for lodging and supplies for rescue workers after 9/11. The New Orleans SuperDome offered shelter after Hurricane Katrina. Is Nationals Park now part of that list?
Last evening, MLB.com’s Richard Justice noted, “For a few days … the sadness will linger, hovering in the thoughts and minds of fans and players alike.” Justice quoted Nats’ manager Davey Johnson’s response to how the teams would prepare to play today’s games “‘Hopefully, we’ll do something to take people’s minds off things for a few hours. That’s all we can do.’”
Perhaps there is more we as a society can do. But I’m not sure what. Until we figure that out, we can keep the victims of this tragedy and their families and coworkers in our thoughts and prayers.