New York Yankees fans are legendary for their inventiveness and ferocity in riding opposing players. There’s even a group called the “Bleacher Creatures” whose organized taunts and catcalls are known for their vicious humor and unrelenting hostility to opposing fans and players.
That’s baseball. If you don’t like it, take up badminton or lawn darts.
But only in America in the 21st century could a Major League Baseball team actually go crying to the league office and ask officials to make the fans stop taunting them. That’s just what the Houston Astros did when Yankees fans got a little too rambunctious in their taunts.
The Houston Astros won the World Series in 2017 and they did it by cheating. They put a camera in the centerfield “batter’s eye” so they could read the catcher’s pitch signals to the pitcher. Bench coaches would then relay the coming pitch to the batter by banging on garbage cans.
How much of an advantage was given to the Astros batters? They didn’t win every game and opposing pitchers still got 27 outs. But it was a clear violation of the rules, even though sign stealing in baseball has been an art form for more than 150 years.
So the league slapped Houston’s wrist, told them not to do it again, and the earth continued to orbit the sun. But this is modern America where everything is about feelings. And the Astros had their feelings hurt when Yankee fans began to do what they’re famous for doing; rattle the opposing team by making Yankee Stadium an extremely uncomfortable place to play.
The Astros apparently went to the league and asked them to sit on Yankees fans and tell them to cease and desist.
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) May 5, 2021
The whining apparently worked. Security guards at Yankee Stadium began to crack down.
The first casualty of the Yankees-Astros game: an inflatable trash can confiscated by security pic.twitter.com/Ip6fK6xVYz
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) May 4, 2021
One fan ran afoul of security for wearing an Oscar the Grouch costume.
In the first of a three-game series on Tuesday, Yankee fan David Taub went viral for wearing an Oscar the Grouch costume – a nod to the Astros’ use of garbage cans for signaling to batters.
Taub told Sports Illustrated that he previously received confirmation before the game that he could wear the costume but when he showed up on Tuesday he was not allowed in as security informed him: “Our policy changed.”
one yankees fan ordered an oscar the grouch costume so he could bang a trash can while the astros are hitting pic.twitter.com/gNJeqlle0P
— joon 이준엽 (@joonlee) May 4, 2021
It should be noted that there were no racial or ethnic slurs thrown at Houston players by the fans. They didn’t make threats. All they did was take part in the great American pastime of trying to rattle opposing players — professional players, all grown-up adults, who should expect the fans riding them — especially when the Astros themselves supplied the ammunition for the taunting.
Riding opposing players is a baseball tradition. It used to be that some players were on the roster solely for their abilities in getting under the skin of opposing players. And these guys can’t take a little well-deserved ribbing?
Both the Astros and MLB deny there was a letter sent. But at the very least, there was a request from the Astros because the fans were successful in rattling their team. The result was clear enough. Yankees management cracked down on the fans, interfering with their ability to fully enjoy the game of baseball.
Next, they will outlaw booing — we mustn’t upset the delicate sensibilities or the fragile egos of multi-million-dollar jocks playing a kids game.