Friendly Fenway, now being touted as “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark”, did not live up to either nickname last night. Anytime you have Red Sox-Yankees, the atmosphere in the park is intense. Poor decisions by the home plate umpire and a moving strike zone helped keep the crowd on edge. When V-Tek hit a two-run triple to the right field corner in the eighth inning, the intensity turned to violence.
I was sitting in RF Box 89, about 15 rows directly behind “the incident”. I listened to callers on talk radio while driving home, I watched replay after replay on Baseball Tonight, read all of the comments on this site, and even watched NESN’s abbreviated rebroadcast of the game. This is what I believe to be true:
The fan was trying to knock Sheffield’s cap off, instead hitting him in the mouth. Less malicious than the claims that he was trying to punch Sheffield, but just as dumb and offensive.
Sheffield’s reaction was justified when he tried to punch the “fan”. It was just that – a reaction.
The woman in the next seat did not douse Sheffield with a beer. The man one seat to her left absolutely and intentionally did throw his beer at Sheffield.
The security guard that jumped in between the fan and Sheffield prevented this from getting any worse. Give that man a raise – it took a lot of balls to get in front of a raging Gary Sheffield.
Fan interference should have been called, sending Tek back to second and taking a run off the board.
The fan, at last report, was not arrested. This is an outrage. He should be arrested and prosecuted, and whatever penalty he gets isn’t enough.
Anyone that tries to put a positive spin on this is an ass. I was there, and the hostility in the air was scary. A couple of people were ejected earlier for throwing stuff into the Yankees bullpen. I’m not talking about college kids, these were grown men. What you couldn’t see on the replays were the bottles that began flying at Sheffield from the RF Boxes and the upper deck. When all was said and done, it was not one fan it was a bunch, and they humiliated their team and the rest of the fans with their actions.
And by the way, there was a baseball game at Fenway. Give Arroyo a couple of the curve-ball strikes he should have had, and his outing becomes a gem. From my seat 300 feet away and off-center, I could clearly see they were strikes! Tek, who was horrendous against the Yankees last year, is killing them this season. Edgah! finally busted out, showing people why he is here. Embree looked great – Foulke looked very shaky throwing fifty-something pitches in two innings to pick up the win. Manny and Ortiz are on the verge of going on an ass-kicking streak. They are just missing pitches, a fraction of an inch and the deep flies they are hitting become homeruns.
One negative thing about the game? Kevin Millar’s at-bat after Ortiz is intentionally walked. He popped out. Doesn’t it tell you that when they walk the guy in front of you, they’re not scared and think they can get you out? Doesn’t that give a hitter even more reason to make him pay? If the stats are out there, I’d love to see Dwight Evans’ numbers after Jim Rice was intentionally walked. Dewey made them pay.
Props to Tito last night. I bash the guy for a lot of his in-game decisions, but the man represents his players. When Papa Jack was mysteriously tossed – Tito took action. And later, after he’d had his fill of bad calls, he went out there himself to say his piece. Great job.
Thankfully, we can settle down and play some normal baseball. The Rays tonight. A much-improved young team, not to be taken too lightly.
And finally, check out a couple of New York’s finest…