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.