Boy, this was a disappointing thing to find in my e-mailbox Monday morning. Straight from the Athletics' media-relations department, too:
Adhering to a new Major League Baseball league-wide mandate, the Oakland A’s will begin using a walk-through metal detection system for fans entering O.co Coliseum for all remaining home games beginning Thursday night when the team hosts Minnesota at 7:05 p.m. MLB teams will implement a similar league-wide system that is currently in place for all NFL and NBA teams.
The A’s recommend that ticket holders enter O.co Coliseum when stadium gates first open to allow ample time for this new security procedure. Gates will open at 5:35 p.m. Thursday, 4:30 p.m. Friday, and 11:05 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
This new procedure will continue through any potential 2013 post-season games, and for all future regular season games.
Wait a minute ... for a 7:05 start, the A's are recommending that fans with tickets arrive at 5:35? What about fans who, you know, have jobs and stuff? And is baseball going to cut the length of commercial breaks so the games are over before 10? Or are they really suggesting that fans should now just plan on spending five hours at the ballpark every time?
Hey, if nothing else, the concession stands should do plenty more business.
The good news? If you believe Bill Shaikin, this is NOT a "Major League Baseball league-wide mandate" ...
There is no MLB mandate to use airport-style screening at ballpark gates. The #Athletics are making their own call.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) September 16, 2013
... and in fact the Athletics, from what I've been able to tell, are the only major-league franchise to adopt these new procedures. So far, anyway.
Look, everybody wants to forestall a tragedy. I understand that, even allowing for the fact that many, many thousands of professional and college sporting events have gone on without a single terrorist attack or mass murdering since 9/11. Actually, since forever. Basically, if you want to kill a bunch of people, there are easier ways than passing through even the rudimentary security procedures already in place.
As usual, it's foolish to treat baseball exactly like football or basketball or hockey. Baseball games are much longer than basketball and hockey, and played much more often than football.
But really, my objection runs deeper than that. Speaking as a person rather than an analyst, I believe we've traded too much convenience for too little additional safety. I think most of you probably agree with me. But this is one of those situations where the vocal minority too often wins. The Oakland Athletics aren't really afraid of someone sneaking an AK-47 or a bushel of grenades into the Coliseum, and killing a bunch of folks. The A's know that's wildly unlikely. What they're afraid of is that if something terrible does happen, they'll be blamed for it.
Which might not be fair. But it will happen, at least to some degree. Frankly, I'm surprised (and grateful) that movie theaters haven't instituted airport-like security screenings yet. Maybe that's just a matter of time, too.
We live in a strange country, friends, where statistically tiny threats are met, time and time again, with wild overreactions that generally lead to more trouble than they're worth. And I'm disappointed that a generally well-run baseball team seems to be leading the way.
For so much more about the first-place A's, please visit SB Nation's Athletics Nation.