Loud and a little rowdy. Raucous and electric. Sometimes downright hostile.
None of that is new to visiting teams — Yankee Stadium is called the Bronx Zoo for a reason — but on Thursday, Astros manager A.J. Hinch drew a very distinct line, and it’s one that Major League Baseball intends to enforce.
Hurling insults? Fine, within reason. Hurling beers, balls and every other type of ballistic? Not so much.
“I will pull the team off the field if we get in that situation again where bottles are being thrown and balls are being thrown and it becomes unruly,” Hinch said definitively, almost angrily, before Game 4 Thursday night.
“There’s other ways to support your home team, and this place does as good a job as anybody to trying to police that while also trying to create an environment that’s all pro-Yankees. It would be a very ugly scene for baseball, a very ugly scene for the Yankees, if one of our guys was hit by something from the upper deck. Something tragic could happen and nobody wants that.”
During Game 3 Tuesday, various debris was thrown toward the Astros in the bullpen and the outfield. Rightfielder Josh Reddick reported at least two souvenir balls along with several water bottles thrown in his direction. Beer cans reportedly were thrown into the Astros’ bullpen in left-center. Play was briefly interrupted when the trash started accumulating in the outfield.
“I went out on the field the other day. I wanted the umpires to know that it was becoming a dangerous situation,” Hinch said. “Our guys have reported both in the bullpen and in the outfield, you could see the stuff thrown on the field. There’s no place for that. Both teams will agree. And it’s really hard to stop fans from doing that. But it’s also very dangerous.”
Fans seen throwing objects on the field are generally escorted out by security, though the chaos of playoff baseball — and its hyper-excited crowds — could make it difficult to spot the perpetrator. An MLB spokesman said the league has been aware of the situation and addressed it with the Yankees and stadium security.
And though Thursday’s evening crowd certainly was louder than Tuesday’s 4 p.m. start time crowd, it was, in that respect, mostly more well behaved. The trash mostly stayed in the stands, though it certainly didn’t seem as if Reddick was having a particularly pleasant night marooned out with the bleacher creatures. When he took his spot in right, a swell of fans stood up, clearly saying something that was lost in the din of the stadium. It was unlikely to be their kind regards.
He also was booed heartily when he came to the plate in the third, no doubt because he publicly spoke out against the garbage-throwing denizens of rightfield after Game 3.
“It’s scary,” Reddick said then. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how dangerous that can really be. You throw a baseball hard enough and it hits somebody in the head and we’re not looking, it could do some damage to you as a player.
“There’s no place in the game for that type of thing.”
On Thursday, the outfield was well-guarded between innings, with two security guards apiece near the leftfield wall and rightfield wall. A pregame scoreboard announcement reminded fans that it is illegal to throw objects on the field — yes, technically even rejected home run balls — and that perpetrators are subject to permanent ban, along with legal consequences. Then, before the third, a prerecorded message from Aaron Boone said the same.
Both the scoreboard announcement and Boone’s warning are played throughout the regular season as well.