This is caught on tape. Up close and personal. Right in Gerrit Cole’s face. But don’t worry. The larger baseball community will weep tears because the bleacher creatures at Yankee Stadium decided to chant “Uber” when Twins pitcher Randy Dobnak came into one of the ALDS games back in 2019. Real hurtful stuff.
Before Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game, Cole was warming up in the bullpen, which, at Fenway Park, is uncomfortably close to opposing fans. Typically, at most ballparks, the seats for the crowd are elevated with the bullpen down below, not lending the opportunity for the drunk lunatics to be standing right up in your face with a cell phone or yelling directly into your ear as you’re throwing to the catcher.
But Cole did not have a pleasant throwing session. He was being unabashedly harassed by Red Sox fans who were holding up a container of Spider Tack as well as a Kermit the Frog puppet (presumably in an effort to make fun of his high-pitched voice) just feet away from him. And NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty caught it all on tape.
Are we diametrically opposed to this behavior? Eh. Not really? It’s unsavory. Fans, especially those situated in this rivalry, are a bit ruthless. And Yankees fans are no innocent bunch. And it’s not like these Sox fans were taking shots at his family. The foul language could’ve been omitted, sure, but what are you going to do? These are drunk fans before the biggest game of the year.
Capturing this one video will not stop such behavior. It’ll only shed light on the fact that just about every fan base has an incredibly undesirable sect that ruins it for everybody else.
But more importantly, we have to ask: did this harassment rattle Cole so badly that it forced him into the worst start of his major league career?
Yankees starter Gerrit Cole was harassed by Red Sox fans up-close and personal.
If you remember correctly, the Fenway crowd collectively celebrated and chanted “Ger-rit” when manager Aaron Boone pulled him from the game in the third inning. They were loving every second of it.
And at this point, is it safe to say Cole possesses a personality that can be easily shook? He’s lost the most win-or-go-home playoff games of all time (two Wild Card Games and couldn’t get the Yankees past the Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS last year).
Big moments might get to him? Don’t think that’s a stretch. But when you combine the larger-than-life moment with unhinged fans screaming in your ear, making fun of you, and alluding to your prior (alleged) transgressions, well, that seems like a recipe for disaster.
By these fans’ reactions, it would appear as if Cole was missing the zone dramatically while being heckled. Moments later, he took the field, was seemingly unwilling to attack Rafael Devers on a 1-2 count and ended up walking him before surrendering the way-too-early nail in the coffin two-run homer to Xander Bogaerts.
All we’re saying is that we might have more context surrounding Cole’s unthinkable struggles in the game he was quite literally paid to win.