It?s not always fun at the ol? ballpark

Life can be cruel. You know it. I know it. And Bryan Stow?s family knows it all too well.

Stow is the 42-year-old San Francisco Giants fan who was severely beaten in a parking lot outside Dodger Stadium on Opening Day. So much for the laid-back image of Southern California.

Stow was nearly beaten to death and has signs of brain damage, according to his cousin, John Stow. The Giants fan was slammed to the ground while walking through the Dodger parking lot, then repeatedly kicked in the head.

Apparently Stow?s only crime was proudly wearing a Giants jersey at a game, along with two other friends.

Clearly Stow was uncomfortable with fan behavior during the game, because he texted some friends and said that he was ?scared inside the stadium.? Turns out his fears weren?t unfounded, although the ugliness occurred outside the stadium.

There?s plenty of finger-pointing to go around. Security measures appear to have been lax. Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former police officer, said the Dodgers employ 200 off-duty LAPD to work a game, and that?s not nearly enough.

Zine also criticized the Dodgers for a promotion that offers half-price beer for six games. He said, ?The fact of the matter is, you don?t have half-priced beer when you have this type of situation happening.?

It?s unfortunate that two men who rushed to Stow?s aid were beaten as well, and one of the Good Samaritans had his teeth knocked out.

The incident hardly occurred in a vacuum, so it?s hard to believe no arrests were immediately forthcoming even though dozens of people called police to say they either recognized the attackers or have heard people admit to committing the assault.

A $150,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the attackers hasn?t led to any arrests either.

The beating, while senseless to anyone with an ounce of common sense, has had some positive outcomes. The Dodgers held a fund?raiser for the injured Giants fan.

Giants pitching ace Tim Lincecum is giving $25,000 to help with Stow?s medical bills and other expenses. The Giants raised nearly $70,000 for the Stow fund, in addition to a $10,000 donation from the team.

In a rare scene before a Dodgers and Giants game, Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt and Dodgers second baseman Jamey Carroll came together for a joint message: This rivalry must stay on the field, without violence and hatred.

Former Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda said, ?Whatever happened to (Stow) should never have happened. It?s a disgrace. And those thugs that did it, when we get a hold of them, they should be held in jail for a lifetime.?

As a result of this beating, the Dodgers have made some changes in security. Previously, they have used a combination of private security guards and off-duty police officers who do not wear a uniform and do not carry a gun.

Now, those off-duty officers are in uniform and approved to carry a weapon.

Unfortunately, all of this comes too late for Stow. Even with increased security, there are no guarantees when it comes to personal safety.

The sad irony of this particular case is that Stow is a 42-year-old paramedic, dedicating his life to saving others.

His cousin, John Stow, said, ?I got a phone call from him the first time he had ever saved someone. The person was dead on arrival from a heart attack, and Bryan was able to work on him and save his life. That was a pinnacle for Bryan. All the work and everything he went through and he was able to bring someone back. It was the most gratifying feeling he ever had.?

It?s a feeling that, barring a miracle, he?ll never have again.

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