Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Boo-yah!

Our continuing saga of bad writing on bad sports writing bring us to Lee Russakoff and his blog article on how booing is bad for sports.

I Thought I Was Your Boo

OK, I’m from Philadelphia so this is a bit (completely) sacrilegious, but I’m going to say it anyway: We fans need to stop booing our own players.

But it is evidently OK to boo the opposing players.

Before you jump all over the comments section with “I pay my hard-earned money to go and do whatever I want” messages, hear me out.

You can boo whomever you want, you have that right. I am not trying to deny you that. Here’s the problem, though: booing your team is not only counterproductive to winning but it also is likely driving a wedge between home fans and players.

I'm sure when a professional athlete hears the fans boo, he is thinking, "even though I just dropped a pass for the fifth time this game, screw those assholes for booing me. I'm leaving this hellhole as soon as my contract is done."

Take Carlos Delgado.

Interesting choice. Mr. Delgado turns 36 this year and currently has a hip injury that is affecting his numbers this year. While 36 is not ancient for a ballplayer, it generally is around the time many players start experiencing a downturn in their numbers. Why not pick on Eric Gagne or Jason Isringhausen? Oh, that's right. They don't play for a New York team. At least he's not picking on A-Rod.

Carlos came to New York with a lot of fanfare but has never been the “Del-Gooooot-It” guy he was expected to be with the Mets. And Mets fans let him hear about it with the old Queens cheer.

Carlos is currently batting .216/.308/.362 for '08. Definitely not great numbers and probably worthy of a few boos, especially in New York. After hitting .265/.361/.548 with 38 HRs in 2006 and .258/.333/.448 with 24 HRs in 2007 for the Mets, this is a bad start for him. However, he started 2007 with a BA below .200 for April and was able to turn in a respectable average for the year.

The result: Delgado continues to struggle.

Delgado continues to struggle - with a hip injury. Not because he gets booed because he is injured. Have you ever tried to hit a baseball with a hip injury? Well neither have I. Yet, it can't be the most pleasurable task to do day in and day out and will cause you to adjust you swing/stance/mindset/etc.

On the rare occasions he makes contact with the ball, he has a combative relationship with the fans—to the point where he refused to take a curtain call at Shea last week after belting two home runs in one game.

What a fuckhead! I'm sure the fact that he hit his second home run meant his slump was over and his stats would start heading into Ruthian territory. A struggling, injured veteran that refused to come back out and take a bow for the fans. How dare that piece of shit player. Trade him to the Blue Jays for David Eckstein. Now there's a player with grit that will inspire the fans and other players. He would come out a take a bow even if he was in a full body cast.

How is that good for anyone?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe he felt like his hip was going to explode and he wanted to rest it before going back out into the field. Maybe he hates New York as he was traded to the Mets and did not sign there as a free agent. Maybe he just wants to win and doesn't care what the fans, or you, think.

I get why you boo. It’s frustrating to watch Carlos pop out for three straight years, or to see Rex Grossman get pwned over and over again, or to sit through Andre Iguodala’s 5-for-765 from the field against the Pistons.

Or Ben Utecht fumble for umpteenth time or Pacers players and their semi-annual strip club/gun-totting/drug-busting headlines or I could go on and on, but you get the point. And for the love of God, how can a fucking sports journalist not use the fucking spellcheck that comes in everything! I may write like shit, but by golly my shit will be spellchecked.

Booing is a cathartic exercise and a guttural reaction. We expected a hit/first down/dunk and got a strike out/loss of 13 yards/turnover instead. We’re disappointed. So we boo.

Most fans do not boo the occasional miss/strike out/double-play/loss of yardage/turnover. We may groan or shout about the unpleasantness of the outcome, but we generally do not automatically boo a bad play. (Although, Philadelphia fans are in a league of their own.) I do not sit in the stands and judge very play by cheering or booing the outcome. You string together a long series of crappy play, then the boos may be justified.

I won't boo Albert Pujols if he goes 0-6 in a game with 6 K's. I may ask what the fuck was he thinking, but no boos would escape me. Now I would probably boo him if he has 6 K's while he swings at 18 straight balls that are a foot outside the plate. What Mr. Russakoff fails to understand at this point is there typically is a level of bad play required to start generating the boo birds. Peyton Manning throwing a pass right at the opposing player does not illicit a dome full of boos. Now if Peyton Manning turns into Ryan Leaf next year, we have reached a level of bad that will start fans booing.

But as sports fans, can’t we rise above those visceral emotions? Can’t we say to ourselves: Wait, if I boo Donovan McNabb for that shorthop pass, it isn’t going to help him concentrate more on the next pass, it’s just going to make him less likely to show the city any love once he becomes a free agent or celebrates a championship (as if championships happen in Philadelphia).

Most players, in my opinion, would obviously prefer to hear fans cheering and praising their skills versus boos and jeers. I agree to a certain extent that booing could be a bit more counter-productive for a players ego to turn his game around. However, I also believe that a professional player has enough resolve to ignore the boos and jeers and right his ship.

I know I’m asking a lot. I know asking sports fans to stop and think is like asking Skip Bayless to stop and think. Throw beer into the mix, and the plea is almost hopeless.

Almost.

Are you almost done yet?!?

We’re all in this together. When we go to our stadiums, our interests are more aligned than at any other time outside a national tragedy. There are no Democrats and Republicans. No blacks, whites, Asians, or Hispanics. No Scarlett Johanssonites and Megan Foxofiles. We are all one. That is something special. That collective will, if harnessed, can make a difference.

True, sports are one area where fans of a team can get together regardless of political alignment, race, religion, or porn preference and cheer for their team. We high-five, slap, hug and jump as one big, happy family. Unless the fucker next to you is cheering for the other team. Then all bets are off.

And what the heck do Scarlett Johansson and Megan Fox have to do with this topic?

We can boo the other team. And we can boo our manager for making idiotic decisions. We can even boo our players if they make mental mistakes or show a lack of hustle/toughness.

NOW WAIT JUST A DING-DONG MINUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fuck the heck?!? (My apologies to Fire Joe Morgan for borrowing this phrase, but it is just the perfect phrase sometimes.) Lee...first you are telling us we should not boo are own team as it is bad for the team and bad for the players' morale. Now it is OK to boo them for certain transgressions? Let's hear the rest before we finish judging Mr. Russakoff.

But let’s stop booing our players for failing athletically…not because it’s immoral or it hurts the players’ feelings, but because it only gets us farther from our goal.
All any fan really wants is to be celebrating a championship with his/her players in the streets. Booing our own team makes that less likely. And if it ever happens, less honest.


But Lee, how can you draw the line between a mental mistake/lack of hustle and failing athletically, really? My dead grandmother may move better in the pocket than David Carr, but what is the call when he gets sacked for the 12th time in a game? Did he not hustle? Was he expecting his receiver to be open and waited to long for the play to develop? Is he just a shitty quarterback? If so, is he shitty because he is mentally weak or because he is athletically-challenged? Personally, I think he is just shitty and I would feel justified for booing him after his 12th sack. I probably would have started booing around number 5 or 6.

So Lee, go back to your mother's basement like the rest of us bloggers and stop worrying about fans booing the players and focus your bad writing on something else.

Oh by the way, regarding your article, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

Ben Utecht?!? Ben Utecht?!? You just had to bring up a sore subject...

May 13, 2008 at 11:45 AM  
Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

Sometimes you gotta go for the low hanging fruit and that one was easy picking. Good news is Cincinnati gets to have fun with that now.

I could've referenced the Colts secondary of old, but it is fun to push your buttons sometimes so Utecht got the nod.

May 13, 2008 at 3:09 PM  

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