The “unwritten rules” of baseball are, depending on your perspective, either a tool sore losers use to complain that someone beat them, or the only thing that separates civilized gentlemen from barbarians.
What most people can agree on, however, is that sending death threats to a player who violates those unwritten rules — or the written ones, for that matter — is a mile over the line of acceptable behavior from even the most diehard of fans.
That seemingly common-sense sentiment appears to have eluded some fans of the Hartford Yard Goats, the Colorado Rockies’ Double-A affiliate.
On Tuesday night, Yard Goats fans saw their team’s combined no-hitter get broken up by the Trenton Thunder (the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate) when outfielder Matt Lipka bunted for a base hit with one out in the ninth inning.
Here’s the controversial play:
Last night, a Minor Leaguer used a bunt to break up a no-hitter with 1 out in the 9th.
Should you bunt to break up a no-hitter?https://t.co/vLsbmVd00f
— Cut4 (@Cut4) June 5, 2019
Of course, the question remains whether a combined no-hitter should even count as a no-hitter in the first place.
It’s also worth noting that the Yard Goats were only leading 3-0, so the game’s outcome was still very much hanging in the balance.
That rule doesn’t apply to a combined no-hitter, especially when you’re only down by 3. Another runner on and a jack and it’s a new ball game. It’s situational and in this one there’s nothing wrong with the bunt.
— Noles Burner (@NolesBurner) June 8, 2019
As the user above pointed out, had the Thunder gotten another runner on base, a home run would have tied the game.
And what was Lipka supposed to do anyway — just intentionally strike out?
it’s a 3 run game and they need men on base to give themselves a chance of winning
just because a no-hitter is in play shouldn’t mean teams stop trying to a win a game
— Mark Gray (@rich29uk) June 5, 2019
But back to the point at hand — after the Yard Goats recorded the final out to secure the victory, the benches cleared.
Benches cleared following the final out.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 5, 2019
Things nearly escalated into blows, as you can see below:
Aftermath of a near fight at the end of the @GoYardGoats and @TrentonThunder game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. 3-0 win for the Goats allowing only one hit as a team. #NoGoatsNoGlory #Pride #NBCCT @NBCConnecticut @GLucivero pic.twitter.com/N1QL5XUWFo
— Paul Ross (@RealPaulRoss) June 5, 2019
But that wasn’t even the end of it.
“According to a source not authorized to speak on behalf of the Thunder organization, the 27-year-old Lipka received death threats on social media following Tuesday’s game,” NJ Advance Media reported Wednesday.
“The source says the Yankees have been alerted to the threats and are investigating.”
Sadly, this sort of fan behavior is not an isolated incident.
After Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal with seconds to go in a wildcard playoff game against the Eagles that Chicago ended up losing 16-15 earlier this year, Parkey sadly received death threats.
This is completely unacceptable behavior, of course, and it should embarrass not just the alleged perpetrators but also the entire community of sports fans whose reputations are smeared by idiots threatening violence against complete strangers.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s remind everyone once again that Lipka’s bunt for a hit came with one out in the ninth inning of a 3-0 game!
If it was 11-0, maybe you frown on bunting to break up a no-hitter, but even then, if the game is already functionally over, why not just pack it up, call mercy rule and go home?
You play to win until the last out is recorded, not until you decide to simply stop trying.
Lipka was the No. 9 hitter in the Trenton batting order, so his hit brought up the top of the lineup.
And again, a walk or a hit followed by a home run — a completely plausible if unlikely baseball scenario — would have tied the game.
As Deadspin put it: “How much easier is it for a pitcher to produce a 1-2-3 inning when you start removing available options from the hitting side?”
As for Yard Goats pitcher Rico Garcia, who started the game and threw six no-hit innings, he said in regard to losing the no-hitter that “it is what it is.”
“[Lipka] was doing what he had to do,” he said, per MiLB.com.
“And we were really passionate about getting the no-hitter. It is what it is,” he added.
“I can’t really speak for what he was trying to do or what he was trying to accomplish. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get the no-hitter. Emotions were high after.”
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