How much security at the ballpark is enough?

Justin K. Aller

Tuesday night was in most respects a great night for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their No. 1 prospect made his major-league debut and carried a shutout into the seventh inning. The Corsairs would win going away, solidifying their lofty place in the National League standings, and a good crowd was on hand for it all.

But as John Perrotto writes, it wasn't a perfect night:

As usual, however, the Pirates can take an important day and mess it up.

The Pirates decided to implement new security measures Tuesday night, primarily wanding each fan before going through the turnstiles. It turned out to be a disaster.

The lines stretched for blocks and a significant number of the 30,614 in attendance missed Cole striking out Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco on three pitches to open the game. It’s one of those moments you never get back as a fan.

According to some of those who got caught in line, security was understaffed and extremely slow in the wanding procedures.

It’s hard to fault any professional team for adding security in light of the terrorist attacks in Boston and the fear of something on an even larger scale occurring at a sporting event.

Actually, I'll go ahead and fault any professional team for adding this level of security in light of the terrorist attacks and especially in light of the fear of something. It's obviously facile to say "the terrorists win" every time a society reacts in any sort of meaningful way to a credible threat ... but that doesn't mean it's necessarily untrue.

Or maybe it is. In one sense, the terrorists haven't won anything yet, if one assumes that "winning" means political decisions that comport with the terrorists' desires. That really hasn't happened; the U.S. of A. continues to roll merrily about the globe, projecting its economic, military, and cultural power just about wherever it likes.

But some people do think the terrorists win by inspiring fear that leads to petty annoyances (wandings at the ballpark, interminable security lines at the airport) and trillion-dollar debts. Check, and check-mate.

My personal opinion? I would rather not be wanded, and I would rather not leave my toothpaste at home when I fly, and I would rather not spend eleventy-billion dollars every year so the government can collect my Internet searches.

For me, it's all about the odds. Wednesday night, I hitched a ride in a 70-year-old flying machine. Some risk was involved there (here's proof, with video). I drove 75 miles there, and 75 miles home. There was some risk involved there, too. Every time you leave your house or fire up the grill or take a bath, you're taking a risk. I would bet good money that the risks I took Wednesday night were little more dangerous than the risks that millions of people take each year when they attend a sporting event.

Actually, considering that not a single human life has been lost in a terrorist attack in an American professional sports stadium, ever -- we're talking about hundreds of millions of people since 9/11 -- I'll bet that my risk Wednesday night was far more dangerous than attending a baseball game. Wanding or no wanding.

One thing that we've got going for us, as Americans, is both the Constitutional right and the practical ability to associate freely and congregate in large groups with little interference or risk. And every additional wanding, every cursory search of a perfectly innocent diaper bag, makes it a little harder to remember just how lucky we are, and makes it a little easier to just stay home and watch the game on television.

When the Pirates insist on wanding 30,000 mostly upstanding citizens, maybe the terrorists don't win. But we do lose a little something. And the little somethings just keep piling up. Someday we're going to have a big something, and we'll wonder what in the hell we were thinking.

For much more about the Pirates, please visit SB Nation's Bucs Dugout.

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