While Yankees battle Padres, fans declare war on Fernando Tatis

Yankees fans taunt Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres with steroid chants on May 27, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

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NEW YORK — As the Yankees battled the Padres to make a comeback to their winning ways, fans in the Bronx have been waging a war on Fernando Tatis Jr. The tall and slender right fielder for the Padres, with his braids and a gold chain bouncing against his beige jersey, was seen lightly moving around in the right field. As he shifted his focus toward home plate, the fans sitting in the bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium started chanting:

“Steroids! Steroids! Steroids!”

Once San Diego’s starting pitcher Michael Wacha threw a pitch to Yankees’ leadoff batter Gleyber Torres, Fernando Tatis Jr. took the opportunity to respond to the crowd. With a break in the action, the 24-year-old outfielder turned his attention toward the stands. Sporting black sunglasses, he smiled and pointed to his left wrist. As he walked and gazed at the fans, he tapped his wrist a few times. This gesture raised a question: What was the message Tatis was trying to convey?

He stated that it was too early for such actions as it was only the first inning of the game.

During the following seven innings, according to The Athletic, Yankees fans in the right-field stands continuously hurled insults at Tatis. However, in response, Tatis managed to hit a solo home run in a 3-2, 10-inning loss on Saturday.

Fans angry at Tatis

Yankees fans used harsh words to describe him. The crowd shouted things like “Cheater!” and “Where’s the needle?” They also chanted something about a side effect of using steroids that makes a person’s body parts smaller.

Tatis incurred an 80-game suspension on August 12, 2022, following a positive test for Clostebol, an anabolic steroid.

When asked about the ribbing he received from Yankees fans, the Padres player indicated that he did not believe any of it went too far. He mentioned that growing up in the game had given him an understanding of how fans react.

Yankees fans were giving Tatis a hard time because he was playing for the opposing team, which is typical in the Bronx. They often target the star players of the other team, and Tatis was a perfect target with his big contract and All-Star status. Even though it has been years since the Astros’ cheating scandal, fans still chant negative things about Jose Altuve.

It’s worth noting that former Yankees players Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens have also been accused of using PEDs to boost their performance.

Player reaction to Yankees fans matter

Sometimes, certain players find it difficult to handle the intense focus and criticism from Yankees fans. The attacks can be really mean-spirited. They targeted Zack Greinke because of his struggles with mental health while he was warming up in the bullpen before a game in 2019. His teammate, Josh Reddick, thought it was unfair and suggested that Yankees fans might lack respect.

Yankees fans at Yankee Stadium

In another instance, Cleveland’s Myles Straw confronted a heckler by jumping onto the outfield wall in April 2022, which led fans to throw objects like water bottles and beer cans onto the field. Straw called Yankees fans the “worst fanbase on the planet.” Yankees fans can also be tough on their own players, as they have harshly booed Aaron Hicks, Joey Gallo, and Sonny Gray. In last year’s playoffs, they even booed Aaron Judge, who had just set a record for the most home runs in the American League.

Despite facing criticism and taunting from Yankees fans, Tatis has managed to stay calm and composed. After hitting a home run in the game against the Yankees on Friday, Tatis showed his playful side. He kneeled in right-center field and pretended to conduct the crowd’s “steroids” chant, waving his hands as if directing them. The following day, he remained positive and cheerful. He tossed several baseballs into the crowd, allowing fans to have them as souvenirs. He also waved and acknowledged a few individuals in the stands.

According to Tatis, he embraces the situation and understands that there are times when he can respond to the fans. However, he also acknowledged that it depends on the game, and there are moments when he needs to stay focused and fully concentrated.

Before making his MLB debut at the age of 20 in 2019, Tatis had already gained a lot of experience with large baseball crowds. His father, Fernando Sr., spent three seasons with the Mets as a third baseman during his 11-year major league career. Growing up, the younger Tatis was aware of the intense atmosphere and passionate fans that can be found in New York.

He disclosed that he understands what the fans will remember from their experience at the game, and his intention is to create positive memories for them. Padres manager Bob Melvin commented that Tatis is enjoying the situation and approaching the game with a sense of fun.

Certainly, Tatis has faced hostility from fans in other stadiums this season too. When he made his season debut at Wrigley Field on April 20, Cubs fans chanted derogatory remarks about him being on steroids. In response, Tatis chose to dance in front of them in the right field.

Tatis should be prepared for similar treatment on Sunday. The weather is expected to be sunny and around 79 degrees at Yankee Stadium. The stadium crowd will be focused on booing Tatis on Memorial Day, while the rest of the country will be enjoying barbecues and family time.

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