To Boo or Not To Boo
So perhaps you had a rough day at work yesterday, which was only tolerable because of the Phillies game you looked forward to going to last night. You paid good money for tickets, parking, and concessions on a rather miserable April night. And then just as you were getting into the game, your day was topped off with one of Cole Hamels' worst starts of his career, going 2.2 innings, allowing six runs, while surrendering two hits to pitcher Chris Young in the same inning.
I can understand how some fans, especially those who might only go to two or three games a season, would be frustrated or even angry. You missed the three fun wins over the weekend and now were stuck with tickets to this clunker. Oh, and you probably had some douchebag Mets fans near you who was getting on your nerves all night, and taunting every Phillies fan in your section.
A loud vocal minority of fans decided that the appropriate response to this was to let loose and boo Hamels. And I cringed. I’m all for fans being tough but fair. But booing a guy in Game #4 is a little unfair from my vantage point.
If this was May or June and Hamels had stunk for most of the season, I’d be OK with booing him after another bad outing. In fact, if there weren’t at least a little smattering of boos then, I’d suspect that they had replaced the fans at CBP with lame fans from San Diego or LA. But not after one start. 1/162 of a baseball season is the equivalent of about five and a half game minutes of an NFL season. You can’t bring an NFL mentality to a baseball season. And if you know the game, you know every good starting pitcher has a handful of starts like this every year.
And not that he should get a free pass forever now, but he was the MVP of the 2008 World Series. He has probably gotten booed more than any other good player on the team over the last few years. And to his credit, he seems to have handled it well. For a SoCal guy, he seems to “get” the city’s fans pretty well. He faces the music after poor starts and never says anything negative about the fans, who seem to give him no margin of error for poor play compared to other stars on the team. Could you imagine Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay getting booed last night after an outing like that? I can’t.
The two words that come to mind with these types of fans are “ingrates” and “ballbreakers." There is no doubt these are some of the Type-1 kind of fans. If we want to help rid ourselves of the unfair reputation of being a fan base of drunken louts, then we should show a little restraint occasionally.
Part of being a knowledgeable fan is knowing the right time to boo. Personally, I've only ever booed perceived lack of effort or sustained poor performance. I embrace the power of the boo. But if you overuse it in situations that don’t really warrant it, then it loses its power.