Jakob Junis threw one extremely bad pitch. No one is going to argue against that. Royals catcher Salvador Perez set up outside, Junis misfired a 93 mph fastball way inside and the end result was Aaron Judge missing three weeks with a fractured wrist.
The pitch’s outcome was clearly unintentional, but it was also enough for Yankees fans to flood Junis’ social media with pure hatred. There was profanity, threats, insults, profane threats and insults, conspiracy theories and calls for Junis to go back to the minor leagues. For hours, Junis’ Twitter mentions burned.
The simple explanation for why such a thing happened is that every fanbase has a proportion of bad apples that use social media like this, and when you apply that to MLB’s largest fanbase, you’re going to get many more bad apples than usual. Combine that with the, um, reputation that Yankees fans have accrued over the years, and you’ve got a recipe for an avalanche of hatred.
Angry Yankees fans attack Jakob Junis on social media
As of Friday, Junis had roughly 3,300 followers on Twitter and, not counting retweets or replies, had tweeted once in 2018. As far as athletes on Twitter go, he was a ghost.
Here is a very small fraction of what now pops up when searching for Junis’ Twitter handle:
Anger like this is nothing new when a player gets injured by another pitcher, intentional or not, but it’s still quite something to see pure hatred lobbied at a single human being.
Comments weren’t much better on Instagram, where Junis has roughly 4,600 followers. Along with several quick profanities, especially on one picture of Junis’ son celebrating his third birthday, some attacks were more detailed.
“A——. You broke our biracial angels wrist when we’re trying to win a World Series,” one fan said on one post in which Junis raved about the honor of wearing a Negro League throwback uniform.
“Can wait for cc to f—– throw at one of your all stars head ….oh ya royals dont have all stars,” another fan threw out on a post praising Kauffman Stadium.
The low point might have been when the anger reached the Twitter feed of Junis’ wife, where a Twitter user threatened to find the couple’s hotel room.
How Jakob Junis reacted to the Yankee fans’ blowback
According to a report from Rustin Dodd of The Athletic, Junis didn’t apologize during postgame interviews because he didn’t know Judge was going to have to miss time until well after the game. The Yankees weren’t particularly angry about the pitch either, it was just a bad pitch.
As for the fans, Junis saw their anger when he was back at the team hotel. From The Athletic:
Late Thursday night, Junis, 25, had explained his pitch in a postgame interview in the visitors clubhouse, under the assumption that Judge, 26, was not injured. Yet when he returned to the team hotel and checked his social media pages, he suddenly realized that something was amiss. His Twitter mentions had exploded; his Instagram page was invaded. He tapped on his Twitter notifications and began to scroll.
“Oh, man,” Junis said. “I got a bunch of them.”
Junis immediately made the wise move of turning his account private and walling himself off from outside fans, though it was again public as of Friday evening. He also declined to reply or criticize the fans, according to The Athletic:
“I think a lot of people took it the wrong way,” Junis said. “They think that I hit him on purpose, which was absolutely not the case. So, I think they were very upset, thinking that I did it intentionally. But it’s part of it, I guess.
“It’s not my place to comment back or do anything. As long as myself and my family is taken care of, that’s all that matters.”
That’s probably the right outlook for Junis to take, and yet it’s still an unfortunate situation. You can call it trolling or harmless in the long run, you can say that Junis’ MLB league-minimum salary comes with the price of hostility like this, but it remains another example of people using sports fandom as an excuse to treat another human being in the vilest way they can imagine.
Judge is still the primary victim in this situation, but Junis is being attacked for being a human who threw a baseball two feet to the right of his target, and nothing more.
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