MLB Didn’t Get The Memo On “Free Speech.”

Three foot, seven inch Eddie Gaedel batting for the St. Louis Browns on August 19, 1951 .

The headline caught our eye:

Fan ejected from Yankee Stadium for yelling out pitch locations

“Well, that is a new one,” we thought.

Here’s the crux of the story:

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said a fan was “rightfully” ejected from Yankee Stadium during one of Gary Sanchez’s at-bats in Tuesday night’s 6-1 home win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Girardi said the umpire ejected the fan sitting behind home plate for “yelling out location for one or two pitches when Gary was up.”

Sanchez was batting with a full count against Austin Pruitt in the eighth inning when plate umpire Dan Bellino walked to the backstop and spoke to a member of the team’s security staff, directing that the fan be removed. Bellino then walked toward second base and conferred with crew chief Jerry Layne.

Play resumed after a break of about 90 seconds. Sanchez fouled off a pitch, then hit a bloop RBI single.

Sanchez and Rays catcher Wilson Ramos said the fan had been yelling in Spanish: “Outside! Outside!”

Ramos said the spectator’s shouts were accurate.

“That was not professional. If you come to the game, you’re asked to enjoy the game,” Ramos said. “Everybody’s supposed to see the ball and just react with pitches … so to me, it’s like cheating.”

Both managers praised the ejection.

It is part of baseball to tip batters off where the catcher is setting up. Traditionally, teams don’t like it when their catcher sets up inside and a runner on second base gives a sign to the batter of where the catcher wants the pitch to come. No one we have ever heard has ever complained about that being “unprofessional.”

Of course, we find the Yankees’ proclamation that the fan was being “unprofessional” more than a little hypocritical when the Yankees were proven to be using a camera to steal pitching signs. Historically players and coaches trying to figure out signs used by the other team is deemed part of the game. Using electronic means to accomplish that goal is not only “unprofessional,” it is against the rules.

Which leads us back to the fan that was thrown out by Yankee Stadium security personnel for shouting pitch locations – in Spanish no less. (Certainly there has to be a racist component of ejecting a Spanish speaking fan, right?)

But here is our question:

“If a fan is ejected for being ‘unprofessional,’ shouldn’t players that take a knee during the National Anthem also be fined, suspended, let go, etc., for being ‘unprofessional?'”

People will tell you that the players are exercising their “First Amendment rights,” oblivious to the fact that the First Amendment covers government restrictions on speech and not private companies or entities on speech.

There is no First Amendment protection to what the players who are taking a knee are doing from their employers. Period.

This is not to say that we agree with the fan yelling out pitch locations. It’s stupid, ridiculous and will get someone hurt because if the batter is looking for a pitch that is low and away and the pitch comes high and inside, you have a mess on your hands.

Yet if yelling pitch locations is stupid, then taking a knee during what should be a unifying moment of the playing / singing of the national anthem is equally stupid. As we said the other day, being divisive does not solve problems and does not make the point of unity and inclusiveness.

IF MLB, the Yankees, and umpires aren’t willing to recognize the unprofessional behavior of players, then they should not take notice of the “unprofessional” behavior of fans in the stands.

At the very least, they could apply the same standards to everyone.

Well, we aren’t holding our breath for that to happen.

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