Mac Engel

Here’s to hoping the ballgame remains a safe place

At approximately the same time fans patiently lined up at the Ballpark to walk through metal detectors early Saturday evening, the Dallas Police Department was dealing with a “suspicious person” situation.

The person of interest in the Dallas PD garage, which necessitated a SWAT team presence, reportedly fled the scene without apprehension.

Maybe that person came to the Rangers’ game against the Twins. Who knows?

“Honestly, I do not know what else we can possibly do,” a Ballpark security supervisor told me as fans went through the routine of having their bags quickly inspected and making sure they aren’t carrying anything illegal into the stadium. “If it’s metal, we are going to catch it. If it’s plastics, the dogs will catch it. After that, what are we supposed to do?”

The same the rest of us can do — hope nothing happens and these security measures actually work.

“In my country where I grew up [Dominican Republic], there were a lot of people stealing stuff all the time — but no one is shooting at cops,” said Rangers rookie outfielder Nomar Mazara, whose social media photo from earlier this year with one of the slain Dallas police officers quickly went viral Friday.

“I don’t know. There are just a lot of crazy people out there and you just have to be careful. You gotta be smart.”

Add lucky.

Like you, the reactions from the pointless murder of five Dallas police officers Thursday evening enraged, saddened, sickened and frightened me.

I am sick of this. I am sick of having to give every single person at the movie theater a once-over, and exhausted by senseless murders from deranged fanatics whose main problem is easily manipulated stupidity.

Ever notice the real smart people are not the ones setting off bombs or shooting up nightclubs?

Five days before the shootings in Dallas, the world lost one of its most compassionate humanitarians in Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust.

Listening to him speak to an audience of about 3,000 at TCU in 2000, he told us: “I believe that if there is anything that could disarm fanaticism, it is learning. It’s education. Whatever the essential answer to urgent and dangerous problems is, surely education is a major component. Without it, nothing is possible. Without it, there is no culture, no civilization, no compassion, no humanity.”

We are far from that, but there remains a staggering component of crazy-angry-stupid who are killing it for the rest of us. Every time we sink to new depths, a mass murderer thrusts us deeper into our well of pain and raises our level of paranoia to the point where staying at home is justified.

In recent years we have become desensitized to senseless mass violence due to 9/11 and the tragic images from Newtown to Boston to Orlando and now to our own backyard in Dallas. Shooting kids made us cry. Shooting up a nightclub made us frightened. Shooting cops made us angry.

What is left? The ballgame. Knock on wood, but big sporting events truly remain a place of safety in an era where we no longer feel safe. I have no idea how much longer this thin veil of protection will last. But rather than resign myself to the fact that at some point a lunatic is going to blow up a sporting event, I’m going to remain hopeful that the ballgame will remain safe harbor.

An American sporting event has long been regarded as the Holy Grail for terrorists for obvious reasons — there are sometimes as many as 90,000 people at a big college football or NFL game.

The bombing of the finish line at the Boston Marathon in 2013 was an attack during an American sporting event, but it was not inside an actual venue.

Last fall, when terrorists set off a coordinated attack in Paris, one of the bombers was blocked from entering Stade de France for the France-Germany soccer match. Security measures at the entry gates prevented the bomber from detonating inside the stadium, which could have potentially resulted in thousands of deaths.

No one wants to think about this, for good reason, but that could happen here. Most American sporting events, especially those at the smaller level, are not equipped with the same type of security measures as the bigger games.

Now, what to do about it?

One security officer at Saturday’s game admitted to me that because of the shootings in Dallas no extra precautions were taken, nor should they. The metal detectors that were put in place two years ago are there for a reason. So are the big dogs.

After that ... just hope.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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