On second thought, one last ride around the dirt track


(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A rider kicks up some dirt during a practice session prior to the Monster Energy AMA Supercross race last Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Permission to revisit the Supercross / Dodger Stadium column last week, in a human moment:

With more ability and space to process what happened versus what was intended, it’s obvious that I had some misdirected frustration and let it get the best of me. Sorry for that.

It seems to be the kind of stuff that happens in all sorts of areas of life – with family, with spouses, with work. Even as you’re in the back yard cleaning up dog poop, and come to realize you can’t really be upset with the creator of this mess.

You’re just the one stuck with the job picking up the pieces.


To see Dodger Stadium buried under mounds of dirt – no matter what the reason – was a jolt to the senses. Not just by me. I thought Orel Hershiser had the same feeling as well when I talked to him about it. I thought head groundskeeper Eric Hansen echoed that, too.

So where would I go with it? Who was to blame? Who benefitted?

I saw this unfold in a couple of stages. The first time, at a media day on Thursday, led to a blog posting with photos explaining how it all came about. The second time, at Saturday’s AMA Supercross, led to a column with some colorful language that was more of a reaction to what I was watching.

That column had about 960 words. I wish I could take about 100 of back. Especially those right at the top.

Going in, I had the structure of a column in mind — actually taking the side that that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions as to why the McCourts agreed for the first time to let this event take place. My research found information that Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers owner who moved the team to L.A. and oversaw the construction of Dodger Stadium, had wanted this place built 50 years ago to be a multi-purpose facility, drawing income in the offseason for a variety of things. He did it with movies and conventions. Not with messing with the finely manicured diamond that he’d spent millions to maintain on a year-round basis.

Did the McCourts really need the money that bad to allow anyone to come in and fill it with dirt? It sure appeared to be that way, but looks can be deceiving. Yet, it wasn’t unprecedented.

Then, things got a little twisted around.


Walking through the parking lot en route to the stadium entrance, in amongst the fans that were doing the same thing, I saw the black leather, the bandanas, the tattoos, tight jeans, enhanced cleavage, big hair … and the smoking. It was creating an impression as I was trying to gather my thoughts even more about why this was taking place.

Having been to some Mickey Thompson Off-Road Race events at the Coliseum way back when, and a few X Games events with similar races taking place, I saw some similarities in the crowds. Surely, not enough stereotypes collected that represented the entire assemblage. But enough, I thought, to provide some comic relief to the situation. I needed the laugh more than anyone — to diffuse my edginess about the whole scene.

Once inside, the swarm of bees’ noise got into my head as well. I couldn’t focus. I had to sit inside the glass-paneled suite to block out the sound as I tried to create some paragraphs.

All that together seemed to be a toxic mix of what would come out on the keyboard. Again, the emotions got the best of me.

I have plenty of respect for the riders who were leaps and bounds some of the more daring athletes I’ve come across to watch in person in my lifetime. What I wrote had nothing to do with their performance. I don’t think that’s even an issue — although others disagree. Nor did I want to trash AMA for its coup in getting the Dodgers to agree to hold this event there. It raised the bar of the sport’s visibility to a new audience.

As for the readers who have endured my columns before — not those reading me for the first time — they’d be better prepared to know where I was coming from with this. I wasn’t trying to carpet bomb those who enjoy AMA Supercross. I was trying to have fun at their expense. It just seemed to backfire.


Some of the incoming emails and comments had solid points to make, and I appreciated where they were coming from. But then there were others who not only reinforced the absurd stereotypes thrown out there, but really could have benefitted from a spell-check, grammar-check and human dignity-check.

(The word some of you were searching for was “Supercross,” not “Suppercross.” Loser has only one “s”. Whoever wrote “Your and Idiot” … that’s my favorite. That, and “I hold both an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a high level position in the financial services industry. My income has been in the six figure area for over 20 years, and I would describe my political inclination as liberal. I am a huge motocross fan!!” Your family must be proud.)

I don’t consider that subset of Supercross fan a reflection on the total population, nor do I even think anything I’d write in response to their email appeasing their reactions. It felt more like an orchestrated campaign rather than individual responses moved by true outrage. Their outrage, in those cases, was handed to them.

Yet, they were an easy target, and chances are the kind of folks you’d find in any kind of crowd of that size — baseball included.

Stubbornly, I tried to stand my ground in a follow-up blog post that really was too watered down to clearly explain what happened.

The bottom line was that the disappointment in my own inability to clearly write was compounded by the reaction. Whose fault is that? Mine. Thanks for holding us to a higher standard.

I wasn’t trying to push anyone’s buttons or manufacture dozens of web hits. I’ve done those sophomoric kinds of columns before (see: lacrosse fan and drag racing fan). I needed a shower afterward, but I knew (or thought I knew) what I was doing then. This time, it was completely unintentional.

That wine stain is all over me this time. You have every reason to whine in reply.

I’ll keep trying to inform and entertain, opine and discern, and throw in some humor when it’s called for. Then hope I don’t go ego-over-handlebars again.

See you at the Monster Truck rally in a couple of weeks. Or not.


== The original column, with the 900-plus comments still attached (linked here)
== The blog followup (linked here)

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