That Yuli Gurriel would get booed at Dodger Stadium, following his offensive gesture towards Los Angeles pitcher Yu Darvish during game 3 of the World Series, was to be expected. Hell, the Astros first baseman got booed in his own ballpark during certain at-bats in games 4 and 5. Even with that knowledge in hand, it’s still jarring to hear how loud and how long the Dodgers crowd booed the 33-year-old Cuban during his first at-bat in Game 6.
Normally, boos would rain down and then quiet shortly after, as the at-bat begins properly, but thanks to Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill, the LA crowd got extra time to really rain it down on Gurriel. That’s because Hill took his sweet time in setting up for each of Gurriel’s first two times at the plate, to the point where he was pushing the limits of baseball’s “pace of game” regulations.
After the game–which the Dodgers won 3-1 in order to push the series to a decisive game 7 on Wednesday night–Hill was asked about the reason for his longer-than-average prep time before Gurriel’s at-bats. The 37-year-old said that he stepped off the mound as a show of solidarity with Darvish, and the LA crowd backed that up with their ardent booing.
However, Darvish has been nothing but classy during this whole incident, releasing a statement that expressed his disappointment at Gurriel and his hope that the whole situation will serve as a teaching tool going forward.
Gurriel’s apology might have been half-assed, and MLB’s punishment even weaker than that, but if the player who was targeted by the offensive gesture has moved on, perhaps it wasn’t Hill’s place to make a “silent gesture” to condemn Gurriel. The crowd would have done it just fine, and this instead takes some of the attention off of the original incident and puts it on Hill. Surely, he meant well, but Hill likely should have left Darvish’s statement as the Dodgers’ final word on the matter.
With all this going on, Dodgers fans will get one more instance to boo Gurriel during this series, and it will come with extra intrigue: game 7 is Wednesday night, and the starting pitcher for Los Angeles is none other than Yu Darvish. Play ball.