If you had the chance to sit in the seats behind home plate — you know, the place in the stadium where the players could actually hear you if you yell — what would you yell? Encouragement? A lot of WOOOOOs? A phrase that includes the words “you bum?” Or how about the locations of the incoming pitch?
If you’re thinking of doing that last one, stop right now. It will get you ejected from the game pretty quickly, as one fan found out on Tuesday.
The New York Yankees were facing the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, and the Yanks had a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. Gary Sanchez was batting with runners on first and third and two outs, and he was battling with Rays pitcher Austin Pruitt. When the count was 3-2, home plate umpire Dan Bellino suddenly halted play and walked to the backstop. Gary Sanchez just stared at him, probably wondering — as most viewers were — why Bellino had stopped umpiring.
When Bellino got to the backstop, he waved down a member of the Yankees security staff and had a brief conversation. Then he turned and walked over to meet with crew chief Jerry Layne to explain what had just gone down. Then he went back behind the plate and the game resumed.
So what was happening? Why did Dan Bellino talk to security? Apparently there was a fan about 15 rows behind home plate who started yelling the pitch locations to Sanchez while he was batting. He only did it for a few pitches before Bellino decided to stop it. He pointed out the fan to security, and they escorted him from the game.
The fan had been yelling “outside” in Spanish to try and help Sanchez, and Rays catcher Wilson Ramos said that the fan was accurate. But Sanchez himself told NJ.com that it didn’t really help all that much.
“You could definitely hear the guy scream, ‘Outside, outside!” Sanchez said. “But you don’t know if it’s going to be a slider or a fastball and you’ve got to stick to your plan.”
In fact, no one found the fan helpful. Both managers said that ejecting the fan was the right thing to do. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told ESPN that he was able to hear what was going on, even from the dugout.
“The first time I heard it, I didn’t think much of it, and the second time I heard it, and that’s when the umpire went back there.”
The fan was probably trying to be helpful, but it was a losing proposition from the start. The fan was yelling in the eighth inning of a game the Yankees were winning in a stadium that had mostly emptied out. There wasn’t a worse or less helpful time that fan could have tried that stunt.
Plus, the umpire, the batter and the catcher all heard him clearly in the batter’s box, and one of the managers heard him from the dugout! There was zero chance that he wasn’t going to be found out and booted from the stadium. All around, not the smartest plan.
This should serve as a lesson to all fans: don’t try to help your team cheat. Cheering is the best help you can give. And if that fails, just do the Ric Flair “WOO!”
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