It didn't take long for the new Rogers Centre renovations to backfire
Putting fans closer to the action seems like a good idea on paper, and while fans are undoubtedly enjoying the new Outfield District renovations at the Rogers Centre, one element of the design is already bringing out the worst in Toronto Blue Jays fans.
A media preview in the days before the home opener gave reporters an up-close glimpse of the new raised bullpens that put fans just feet away from visiting relief pitchers. And when I say close, I mean close.
Close enough that concerns were raised long before the April 11 home opener. Concerns that are starting to seem justified.
In just the second home game of the season since the Jays returned to the new-look Rogers Centre, a disgusting interaction between a fan and a visiting player was captured during the broadcast and circulated on Reddit.
The Jays rallied in the bottom of the ninth inning to win another comeback in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night, defeating the Detroit Tigers in a thrilling walk-off victory finish 4-3.
But that ninth inning didn't come without incident. When Detroit reliever Trey Wingenter struggled to find the zone walking successive batters and even hitting one, manager AJ Hinch signalled to the bullpen to get lefty Chasen Shreve warmed up.
But when Shreve began to exit the bullpen to come into the game via a new staircase that forces pitchers to walk within inches of jeering fans. One of those fans got right in Shreve's face, hurling insults and aggressively shouting at the pitcher as he made the walk down to field level.
A friendly fan assists Chasen Shreve in finding his way out of the new Rogers Centre bullpens
by u/cwtjps in baseball
But if you look beyond the surface of the video and the fan's behaviour, you may notice that the standing room area directly above the bullpen has already been blocked off by police and security, suggesting that this may not have been the first — or worst — player-fan interaction in the two home games so far this season.
Another post shows a beer can being thrown into the bullpen, and Tigers staff trying to have the fan ejected.
Beer can thrown at Tigers bullpen at Rogers Centre, Tigers bullpen tried to eject the fan
by u/Independent_Two_2627 in Torontobluejays
"Surely this won't cause any issues," reads one comment on Reddit.
"The railing ain't making it through the year before a panel gets extended higher," says another commenter.
Fan-player spats are bound to happen in a ballpark with spaces that bring spectators closer to the action by design, but a screaming fan, or even the beer-throwing incidents that have plagued Jays crowds in the past, are really the best-case scenario.
Earlier this season (which feels kind of weird saying in mid-April), Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon was suspended for four games after lunging at a fan and grabbing their shirt after a 2-1 loss in Oakland.
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