This one could be about how dominating Chi Chi Gonzalez was in his first major league start, holding the Boston Red Sox to no runs and just one hit in 5.2 innings. While he had a few too many walks to have his performance characterized as brilliant, it was the next best thing.
It could be about the frustration of Jeff Banister pulling Gonzalez with two outs in the fifth and a 6-0 lead, and not giving a young pitcher the chance to learn to pitch himself out of trouble. There might not be a more golden opportunity for it than last night.
It could be about Adam Rosales’s four hits. Or about the perfectly executed safety squeeze. Or about a lot of other total team efforts.
But this one is about the Boston Red Sox. A team that is as bad now as the Rangers were in April. The Red Sox have no pitching, no offense and no defense.
All of which is causing this team to live on the edge of the boiling point.
I had the benefit of sitting four rows behind the Boston dugout last night. Close enough so that Boston players could hear the fans. There were many Red Sox fans nearby. And many non-Red Sox fans. Both sets were not nice to the Bostons last night.
You know how there is a certain phrase that a player says to an umpire that crosses the line and is cause for instant ejection?
Apparently there is a line fans can cross when heckling a player. And it is cause for ejection. And I crossed that line.
I am not joking.
Before I explain my transgression, let me explain that the Red Sox players were getting an earful all night. Mostly from their fans.
Earlier in the game, a fan noticed as Hanley was coming back to the dugout, after lacklusterly striking out, that the top two buttons of his jersey are unbuttoned and he looks like a slob. The fan told Hanley to button his shirt and look professional and act like he cares.
Hanley replied to the fan, and I quote, “F*** you, brother.”
I guess if you have been playing as poorly as Hanley Ramirez has the last month, and how badly he played last night, botching balls in the outfield, stranding runners, grounding into double plays, you would be edgy too.
Well, that incident sort of set the tone for the night, and it was open season on yelling at Hanely, a player with all the talent in the world, but no desire. A player who was run out of Miami for being lazy.
After an entire game of fans heckling Hanley Ramirez, in the top of the eighth, I pulled the wrong Jenga block.
I crossed the line.
I made fun of his hair.
As the players were warming up in the middle of the eighth inning, a Rangers usher tapped me on the shoulder and told me that a Red Sox player had requested to dugout security that I be escorted from the game because I said things that were deeply personal and hurtful.
I am not joking.
She said it is okay to yell baseball related things, but when a fan says things that are personal attacks on players, it crosses the line and the Rangers take that very seriously, because the Rangers do not want Red Sox fans to yell personal things about their players when the team is in Boston.
I am not joking.
Here is what I said that was so offensive:
After just having grounded into a double play, Hanley Ramirez was coming back to the Red Sox dugout when I yelled to him, “Hey, Hanley, the only highlights you’ll ever have are in your hair.”
He glared at me and scurried down the dugout steps. He left the game and was replaced by Carlos Peguero.
I’ve got to admit, at the time, I was pretty proud of myself for that one. But looking back on it now, I can see how cruel and hurtful my words could be. I can see how making fun of a man’s pretty blond highlights can cut that man to the quick.
I was allowed to remain in my seat when others around me assured the usher that that was all I had said. But I was told to refrain from yelling things of a personal nature to the players.
I am not joking.
I recall stories about Ty Cobb going into the stands and attacking fans with a baseball bat for making fun of his cornrows. So I guess I should have known better.
Not thirty seconds after that, though, the entire scene came to a boil when an angry, passionate, but I must say, very well behaved Boston fan, had seen enough from his team and was disgusted. He stood two feet from the dugout and yelled:
“Where is your pride, Red Sox? Where is your pride? I am Boston, you are Boston, where is your Boston pride? Where is your Boston strong? You should be ashamed of yourselves for your play and how you are embarrassing the city of Boston and everything it stands for. Maybe you aren’t ashamed, but I am. I am ashamed for you. You embarrass me, you embarrass yourselves, you embarrass the city, you are an embarrassment to baseball.”
About a half dozen Boston players looked at him and hung their heads. One of whom was Mike Napoli, who yelled at the guy, “Okay, we get it, now shut the hell up.”
The guys shook his head in disgust and calmly sat back down in his seat, to a standing ovation from the Boston faithful in the stands.
You think Rangers fans were disgusted with their team in April? We are novices when it comes to loathing.
This fan, by the way, was not asked to be quiet by security, was not asked to refrain from yelling at the players, was not threatened with being removed from the game, was not dealt with in any way at all.
He, it seems, did not violate the cardinal sin of fandom.
Never make fun of a man’s precious blond highlights.