Hey, Reds fans, what’s with the booing? No, seriously, I’d really like to know.

I’ve never really understood booing. I mean, I get booing the other guys. It’s what you’re supposed to do. I also get booing a guy who left your team for another team. Again, it’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re heart usually isn’t into it, but you do it because it’s part of a night at the ballpark.

I love how Red Sox fans boo Derek Jeter. It’s really loud and really short. It’s like they do it because it’s tradition, but it’s not something of which they’re proud. I suspect they’re slightly embarrassed by it. They know they’re supposed to hate Derek Jeter, and they can’t bring themselves to admit that, like the rest of us, they love the guy. You know you do, Red Sox fans. Don’t you tell me a big one right here in the middle of these great playoffs.

University of Texas fans booed the heck out of their football team at a game last year. Now that’s really bizarre. To boo 19- and 20-year-old kids is sick to me. Do the idiots think they’re not trying? Do they think that booing them will make them play harder or faster or better?

It’s because Texas has had so much success under Mack Brown that he has spoiled everyone. He took over a program in the dumper, a program some people in the athletics department thought would never be back to national prominence, and he made it great. Crowds over 100,000. Merchandise sales through the roof. Two national championship games. Won one national championship. Won three BCS games.

The problem with raising the bar is that the higher bar becomes the new norm. Two straight poor seasons has left fans angry, and so they take out their frustration by booing a bunch of college kids. That’s over the line.

Two years ago, the Texas Rangers were riding high. A franchise that had never won a playoff series got all the way to the World Series. Fans loved their team. Those boys could do no wrong. Everyone—Jon Daniels, Nolan Ryan, Ron Washington, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton—heard the cheers.

Two years later, the Rangers blew their division and then lost the Wild Card game to the Orioles. Now fans have turned on Young, Hamilton, etc. When the club held a season wrapup of a news conference, Ron Washington’s job security was an issue. That’s spectacularly dumb, but that’s life once a franchise gets turned around.

The Rangers hadn’t sniffed the playoffs in seven years when Washington took over. Buck Showalter had just had a losing record in four seasons. It wasn’t his fault because the franchise had all kinds of problems, but he ultimately was one of the people held accountable. Buck understands. He’s a big boy.

Things change quickly. I look at these happy, young A’s and think about what next season will be like when they’re expected to win. Same thing with the Orioles.

Suddenly, the media will nag and the players will feel the pressure, and all the dynamics will feel different.

Which brings me to the Cincinnati Reds. They got booed Wednesday at Great American Ballpark while losing a second straight NLDS game to the Giants. Afterward, Jay Bruce said something about the fans having a strange way of showing their support.

I’m pretty sure Reds fans didn’t boo two years ago when the club won the National League Central and went to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. They had a bunch of young guys who won a bunch of close games, and it was great fun to watch.

Now fans want more. They don’t want another first-round loss. This team sent their fans home happy a whole bunch of times this summer. They accomplished things a lot of teams would kill to accomplish. They’re also a solid, solid baseball organization. GM Walt Jocketty is one of the best. So is manager Dusty Baker.

Their clubhouse has a bunch of players easy to root for, from Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen to Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce and others. But the parlor game in Cincinnati is ripping Dusty’s lineups and jumping on Stubbs for strikeouts and all that. So two years removed from all that fun, Reds fans don’t seem to have enjoyed the journey much.

I’m not sure the point to booing. I’m not sure Joey Votto will put in a little extra effort if a bunch of people are dog-cussing him. I’m not sure it’ll make any of the players better.

All it does is tell the players that the fans are only with them in the good times and that when they’re disappointed or angry they’re going to take it out on the boys. It’s not just Cincinnati. Fans are quick to boo at a lot of places. It’s like they’ve listened to so much talk radio that they think screaming and cussing is the way to go. I sure wish we were nicer to one another.

7 Comments

Well, thanks for tarring us all with the same brush. 44,000 people there, including me, maybe a few hundred boos, and we’re all jerks. OK, well since your last name is Justice, I’ve just gotta assume you beat your wife, just like David Justice.

So, Richard, why do you beat your wife? I don’t understand. Do you think that is going to make her love you? Let’s face it, Richard, no one will ever love a violent drunk like you.

This franchise hasn’t won a playoff series in 17 years. They are the verge blowing a 2-0 NLDS lead. But, yeah, the *fans* are the people that deserve criticism. Give me a break. Also, if you consider this a “solid” organization, your bar for success is woefully low. It’s laughable to describe this franchise in a such a positive way.

But, what else is there to expect? You media sycophants will always turn towards the easy target — the fan. God forbid you take aim at the teams themselves. We wouldn’t want you to lose access would we?

I attended yesterday’s game. Like any game, there was a limited number of “fans” that booed. The majority did not. While I don’t think booing serves any purpose, a fan has the right to do so as a paying customer to do so. These “fans” we’re simple frustrated by the lackluster performance. It’s no different than the Yankees fans who booed A-Rod last night, the Rangers fans who booed Josh Hamilton last week or the Cardinals fans who booed Ryan Franklin a couple of years ago. There are some media types (see C Trent Rosecrans) who generalize a base of fans on the behavior of a few. It’s unfortunate for us who’ve supported the team through the playoffs and the cellar.

I was at the game yesterday and was disgusted by the boos. Atmosphere and momentum are a huge part of home field advantage. It’s unfortunate that some fans can’t bring themselves to cheer for their team unless their team is cranking out hits. I’m equally disgusted by the number of people who left after the 7th inning. If you don’t honestly believe that your team can come back from being 5 runs down, then you aren’t much of a fan. If you know anything about sports, then you know that absolutely anything is possible. I can’t fathom being at the ballpark and feeling like beating traffic is more important than cheering your team on.

I think the booing is a real problem in baseball, especially in Cincinnati. Baseball is a unique sport in that it is a long, enduring season full of highs and lows every day. No other sport is like that. In football, a running back may only fumble the ball once or twice a year, but in baseball Joey Votto is going to strike out or ground out 2-3 times every day. Fans react quickly and take their emotions out on the nearest scapegoat, needing someone to blame because it make us feel better for a very short time. Talk radio only perpetuates this by taking advantage of the angry mobs and fueling the fire, much like the local news reporting on the latest dramas of death and crime. Neither are too good for society I don’t believe. This kind of negativity is a huge issue that I believe is more of a humanity issue than a baseball issue but I do think there is a solution. Like most things in life, I think educating the fan base would greatly improve this problem. Education about the team and about the sport. Baseball has this secret sauce that no sport has and that is this rich and magical history that has weaved itself through the fabric of American history. It’s hard to be a casual baseball fan because there is just so much to the game. So many games, so many stats. There is a reason you don’t hear players, coaches, scouts or radio announcers boo players. I believe this is because all of those guys are heavily invested into the game. You don’t boo something you are invested in, you hope and root for it and if needed offer constructive and helpful criticism. No dad boos his own son at a Little League game. Fans need to invest more time into the game. We are already investing a lot of money but time and money are very different. It won’t cure the booing problem completely but I have a hunch that it could really change the game.

Are you sure Jay wasn’t up to bat? BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE sounds a lot like a boo.

It’s tiresome hearing media types, who attend games for free and are ethically obligated to suspend their rooting interests, critiquing fans. Do I boo my team? No. Do most Cincy fans boo their team? No. Do some? Absolutely yes. St. Louis, San Francisco, and other teams have great fan bases because they have a recent history of consistent winning for years and years, including championships. Let the Giants lose every year for 15 years and never win a playoff game and let me know how their fan base holds up. The Reds fans increased their attendance this year far above the Major League average increase. It’s silly, borderline ignorant to fault a fan base of a team that is just starting to have success for the first time in over a decade for their failure to behave like fans of teams that have won consistently for years and years. When you invest emotionally in a team, it takes a toll on you when they lose consistently, and it makes it that much more bitter when they disappoint you when you began to hope for success. Some people will respond by booing. That’s the way it is. It would be extraordinary for it to be otherwise.

Media types should suspend their critiquing of the fans. Spend your own money, choose your own team, and cheer them on as you see fit. Leave Cincinnati alone. We have a good organization and a good (and improving and growing!) fan base. We blew a 2-0 lead and the national media focusing on the behavior of the fans felt like rubbing salt in the wound, even as the series was still an undecided issue.

Does booing serve a purpose? Maybe. For me, no. For others, perhaps. But unless you’ve been in their shoes for years and years, perhaps judgment should be suspended.

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