The brooding beef between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox took an even uglier turn Monday when the two teams met for the first game of a four-game series at Fenway Park. The last time these two met, it was unwritten-rules theater — with a fastball zooming behind the head of Manny Machado.
This time was even worse — but it wasn’t because of unwritten rules, it was because of things that should never be said.
After the Orioles’ 5-2 win, center fielder Adam Jones recounted a hostile night that included racial taunts from Fenway fans and one unruly fan throwing a bag of peanuts at him. The Red Sox confirmed a fan was ejected for throwing the bag of peanuts. Jones, who remains one of baseball’s most well-spoken and thoughtful players, told Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe:
“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me,” Jones said, “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.
“Very unfortunate. I heard there was 50 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark. It is what it is, right. I just go out and play baseball. It’s unfortunate that people need resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.
“It’s unfortunate. The best thing about myself is that I continue to move on, and still play the game hard. Let people be who they are. Let them show their true colors.”
Jones said he’d been called the N-word at Fenway before, but the stadium was more hostile Monday night. That’s probably because of the recent dust-up between the two teams. The Red Sox fumed when Machado injured team captain Dustin Pedroia with a rough slide into second base on April 21. Two days later, Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes almost hit Machado in the head.
Fans on each side began posturing online, as is usually the case in situations like this — especially when we’re talking about division foes like the Red Sox and Orioles, who play each other frequently. That’s one reason Jones might be correct about his next point: Ejections aren’t enough for fans who choose to act like this. Again, from USA Today:
“What they need to do is that instead of kicking them out of the stadium, they need to fine them 10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand. Something that really hurts somebody. Make them pay in full. And if they don’t, take it out of their check.That’s how you hurt somebody. You suspend them from the stadium, what does that mean? It’s a slap on the wrist. That guy needs to be confronted, and he needs to pay for what he’s done.
“At the end of the day, when you throw an object onto the field of play, the player has no idea what it is. What if something hit me right in the eye and I can’t play baseball anymore. Then what? I just wear it? No. Things like that need to be handled a little more properly, in my opinion.”
Something to consider here: Two-thirds of Boston’s starting outfield is African-American, in Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. The same fans that would call Adam Jones the N-word would probably cheer for a Betts homer.
What does tell us? They’re either incredibly hypocritical and lack a stunning amount of self-awareness. Or they’re the type of people who quickly resort to name-calling and racist taunts instead of witty banter — which makes for a horrible heckler.
Either way, Boston looks even worse in this beef now. And that’s saying something since the last edition of this Orioles-Red Sox drama had a guy throwing a fastball at another guy’s head.
UPDATE 5/2/17: The Red Sox have released a statement about the incidents at Fenway Park during Monday night’s Orioles-Red Sox game:
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