Camden Yards assault: blame the attackers, not the victim

Five days after a brutal assault at an Orioles game at Camden Yards left a Hagerstown man hospitalized in serious condition, the issue was still percolating on local sports-talk radio Monday.

As detailed vividly in a recent story in The Baltimore Sun by reporters Yvonne Wenger and Justin Fenton, the victim, 25-year old Matt Fortese, was punched in the head and sent over a railing before landing on a concrete floor five feet below.

He suffered severe head trauma and a skull fracture. And two men, Gregory Fleischman, 22, of Jarrestville and Michael Bell, 21, of Annapolis, were charged in the attack.

According to Fortese’s date that evening, Fortese was punched after enduring an hour of taunting and having a beer thrown at him – all apparently because he had the nerve to wear a Yankees cap.

But listening to sports talk radio today, I was struck by the number of callers who seemed to feel that somehow Fortese was at fault for what he wore that night.

A life-long Yankees’ fan wearing his favorite team’s cap to an Orioles-Nationals game – yeah, that’s a good reason to slug someone after he finally confronts the yahoos who’ve been tormenting him and his date all night.

Sorry, but if the depiction of events described by Fortese’s date is true, the only ones who deserve any blame are the attackers – whoever they turn out to be. (Yes, the two men charged in the assault are still presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.)

Whether wearing Yankees gear at an Orioles game is a smart move is beside the point.

No one should end up in intensive care for that.

And anyone who doesn’t realize that has lost all perspective of what sports is all about.

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