Sean Rodriguez walked it off last night in the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the Phillies a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
This, of course, happened a few hours after Maikel Franco was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Bryce Harper, who returned to the lineup after the birth of his child, Krew. The reaction to the personnel move was resounding, as Phils fans were wondering why Rodriguez remained with the Major League ballclub while hitting just .053 in the month of August and mustering just one hit in his last 15 at-bats against left-handed pitching.
Rodriguez got his moment in front of the media last night, and decided to “have a go” at the fans, as the British would say:
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) August 27, 2019
I’ve transcribed the full exchange with WIP’s Dave Uram:
Dave: Your struggles in perspective based on small sample size, do you hear the noise and frustration of fans about your play –
Rodriguez: Not just mine.
Dave: And if you do, does that motivate you to do something like you did tonight?
Rodriguez: Think about it; who’s looking bad and feeling entitled when you hear stuff like that? (pause) I’m asking you.
Dave: I don’t know –
Rodriguez: That’s what I mean; I’m not the one booing, I’m not the one screaming, I’m not the one saying pretty disgusting things at times. That seems pretty entitled; you’re just making yourself look pretty bad as an individual, as a person, and as a fan. You’re making guys not wanna basically sit there and say they’re gonna support you here, they’re gonna do this. That’s tough. There’s still a lot of good fans though. Those are the ones I hear, those are the ones I pay attention to. The few that might be behind home plate to say ‘hey Sean keep doing your thing, don’t worry about it, things will come around.’ ‘Hey Rhys, hey so and so, hey Bryce.’ Through the thick and thin that’s when you really get to show your true colors. So when you act a certain way towards somebody because you don’t feel like they’re doing what they need to do, just look at life in general. You wanna win. There’s nobody in here that doesn’t wanna win. You gotta just basically sit there and say, man, ‘let me see if I can’t help him get out of what he’s in. Let me see if I cant be encouraging enough to basically help an individual.’ That’s the harder thing to do. The easier thing is to scream ‘boo.’ Let me think of something to say that might be encouraging. I know it takes effort.
Ok, a few thoughts here, since multiple things can be true at the same time:
- Sean Rodriguez has flat out stunk in the month of August. When you have flat out stunk, you don’t get to call the fans entitled. Every single criticism was warranted. Just take a moment to say, “You know what? I know I’ve been struggling recently. I’m happy to get the home run tonight and hopefully we can build some momentum from here and get the fans excited for this final stretch.”
- He’s right that it’s harder to encourage athletes than simply boo them into oblivion. Sixers fans showed Markelle Fultz a ton of support over the two seasons he was here, so we’re certainly not incapable of it. I think that was something more specific to the Sixers’ fan base though, which trends younger and is more diverse in thought and approach.
- Phillies fans do need to stop with this ridiculous knee-jerk overreaction to everything. There are 162 games in a baseball season and every team suffers super shitty losses. The Dodgers just dropped three of four and were outscored 17-4 in their recent Yankees series. Fact of the matter is that the Phillies are still in the playoff race in late August, which hasn’t happened in a long time. And they’re doing it with a Triple-A pitching staff, yet it seems like people are overwhelmingly “glass half empty” on the Phils instead of “glass half full.”
- Rodriguez sounds like a mix between Gabe Kapler and Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, both in delivery and the things they talk about. They both sound like spiritual surfer type of dudes, i.e. ‘let’s be positive’ and whatnot. Philly is a sardonic sports town and that type of thinking doesn’t necessarily interface well with the typical “four for four” fan.
That’s about it. As a general rule of thumb, fans are absolutely entitled, since they are the paying customers. It doesn’t mean that you as a player have to necessarily give a shit what they think, but it’s not outrageous to expect competent baseball and the requisite effort on the field.