By Terrance Turner
April 23, 2022
A game between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians came to a raucous end today at Yankee Stadium.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the game was scoreless for four innings. Then the offenses began to heat up: “The Yankees offense, like the Guardians, was mostly quiet for four innings. The team broke through in the fifth inning after a walk by Aaron Hicks and back-to-back singles by Joey Gallo and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to cut the Guardians’ lead to 2-1. Yankees’ Kyle Higashioka hit a sacrifice fly to score Gallo and tie the game. Kiner-Falefa was tagged out at second after trying to tag up on the throw, but Gallo scored before the out.
In the seventh inning, Josh Donaldson hit a one-out solo home run to left-center field to put the Bombers in front for the first time on Saturday, 3-2. After a leadoff single by Naylor, Yankees pitcher Chad Green would get the next two batters out, but Austin Hedges dumped a 3-2 fastball into the left field porch to give Cleveland a 4-3 lead.
And that was when things got interesting. According to Sporting News writer David Suggs, “The Guardians were leading by a run in the bottom of the ninth inning with a runner on and two outs when the Yankees’ Isiah Kiner-Falefa smacked a line drive toward the left-field wall. Guardians rookie outfielder Steven Kwan darted to the wall, hoping to come up with an acrobatic game-ending catch.”
Instead, Kwan ran into the wall, appearing to bump his head on the fence. Kwan was shaken up and had to be tended to by medics. As Kwan was being examined by team medical personnel, some fans had words for him, according to Guardians manager Terry Francona and center fielder Myles Straw.
That set Straw off. Angered by what he saw as jeering from the Yankee fans in the stands, he climbed up the wall to confront some of the fans! Straw jawed back at them until Guardians right fielder Oscar Mercado pulled him down.
“It got to me a little bit,” Straw later told reporters. “I said what I said. If I were to do it again, I probably would’ve said the same thing. That’s my guy. At that point, just cheer. Be happy your team tied the game up. Be a normal baseball fan and just enjoy what’s going on.” … When asked what he said to the fans after climbing the fence, Straw said, “I don’t remember, I was just hot at the point. Just basically telling them, ‘Be quiet. Shutup. There’s no business, what you’re saying to this guy right now.’”
“Like I said, they chirp. Which is totally fine. I have that fun little group up there in center, which — it’s every game here, which — they’re fine. They can flick me off, they can say stuff about my family. I really don’t care about that. But when someone’s hurt, you don’t prey on that. Just keep your mouth shut,” Straw said after the game.
“You can say whatever you want to me, but when someone goes headfirst into a wall, just take a breath and let him get his feet under him,” Straw said. “His chin was messed up. His forehead was missed up. Guys were saying stuff to [Cleveland manager Terry Francona]. Guys were saying stuff to Kwan. Let him recover. You can say anything you want, but when someone is hurt that’s not something to joke about.”
The crowd’s rowdiness only escalated after the game’s final play. Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres sealed the game for the Yankees with a walk-off home run to win the game, 5-4. A jubilant Torres celebrated with his teammates, who ran towards the field for a celebratory huddle. But the celebration was short-lived, as Yankees fans began throwing debris onto the field.
Fans in right-center field threw garbage and cups of beer at Guardians right fielder Oscar Mercado and at Straw. Instead of celebrating, Yankees players like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge had to rush over to the right-center field to calm the booing crowds. Radio announcer John Sterling lamented, “That ruins what was a great Yankees comeback.”
Sterling called the display “disgraceful”, calling the fans “hooligans” as they rained down bottles, cans, and other refuse upon the field. One observer on Twitter captured the moment on video, calling Yankees fans “scumbags”.
An angered Myles Straw agreed. “You just won the ballgame,” Straw said after the game. “There’s no reason to throw beers at people.” He called Yankees fans “classless — the worst fan base on the planet.”
Straw said there were many culprits, not just a small group of unruly Yankees fans.
“It’s everybody,” he said. “It was just a beer parade, so we were just kind of watching. You could see them coming from a mile away. We were just trying to avoid the beer cans. Our bullpen was getting hit with them, too. It doesn’t surprise me. [Reliever Trevor] Stephan got hit by an ice cream cone or something crazy (in the bullpen). It was all kinds of stuff.” Was this specific to Yankee Stadium, or prevalent throughout the league? “I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else,” Straw answered.
Mercado confirmed that beer was involved in the debris: “It came close. One almost came right at my head, and I caught it. It was [some] beer cans.” He added, “You can celebrate, chirp all you want. But don’t try to get people hurt. That’s not how things work, and honestly, I think that they were human beings as well. So we’re not gonna sit there and — I personally am not gonna sit there and just allow them to just throw stuff at me and take it like it’s nothing. They need to be held accountable, and I think there need to be rules set up for that.”
The Yankees also were upset, manager Aaron Boone and some of his players stated during post-game interviews.
“There’s no place for throwing stuff on the field in that situation,” Boone said after the game. “Love the intensity, but we can’t be throwing stuff out in the field.” Cleveland manager Terry Francona concurred. “I don’t think people can throw stuff at our players on the field,” Francona said. “That’s never going to be OK.”
A number of Yankees players agreed, including Glyber Torres. “I feel like we have amazing fans, but in those kind of situations, we just want to respect the opponent. That can’t happen again,” he said. His teammate had a similar reaction. “I didn’t know what was going on, but that can’t happen,” Kiner-Falefa, in his first season with the Yankees, said. “I love the atmosphere, I love the fans, I love everything about them, but we win with class.”
Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo was also asked about the play. Rizzo was among those in pinstripes that helped escort Guardians players back to their dugout while pieces of trash were being pelted in their direction.
“At the end of the day, we are all athletes and we’re all in a fraternity together,” Rizzo explained. “We don’t want something bad happening to them. I know they don’t want anything bad happening to us. It’s just about being smart. You don’t know what’s going on in the shuffle, but our fans are passionate and they bring noise every night and we appreciate that. When beers start flying and things start flying, you just want to get everyone under control as best as you can so things don’t escalate more than they have to.”
The Yankees won for the fourth time in five games and recorded their second walk-off win following a rare bullpen meltdown. But it remains to be seen how fans will act tomorrow, when the Yankees face the Guardians again.