April 23, 2010

Booing is for the birds and I don't have wings

If you boo the players on your favorite team are you passionate or just a jerk? I think that’s a fair question, don’t you?

I mean it’s one thing to boo a guy for not giving his best effort or for being a putz (let’s not forget Jose Guillen), but is it okay to boo a guy who’s simply struggling? Does booing him make him play better? Or is it just a way for fans to vent?

Brandon Wood is struggling and that’s probably an under-statement. He looks lost and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of breaking out of his slump. Then again, you have to ask; is it a slump or is he really this bad? I don’t know the answer to that; although I’m inclined to believe he’s just off to a bad start.

Rob Neyer and Aaron Gleeman don’t see Wood projecting very well. They make a valid argument (I can’t believe I’m saying that) and it appears there is reason for concern.

Regardless of all that – my question is should Angel fans boo him? I know they boo their own in places like the Bronx or Boston, but I don’t necessarily believe they’re the gold standard for fandom. At the same time, I also don’t pretend to be the arbiter of that standard either. It just bugs me.

I don’t think any fan who boo’s Wood wouldn’t do it to his face. It’s one thing to be sitting in the stands, but when it comes to a face to face encounter; could the same fan look Wood in the eye and tell him he sucks? I’m not asking if they’d be intimidated to do so, I just wonder (and hope) if they’d find some compassion for what he’s going through.

The year Steve Finley was an Angel (sorry to bring up such a horrible memory) he was so bad; I hated to see him in the lineup. Mike Scioscia kept trotting him out there and Finley kept saying all the right things about how he appreciated Scioscia’s faith in him, etc., etc. I wanted to boo Finley. I can’t recall if I did or not, but I’m certain I voiced some displeasure never-the-less.

That same season, I saw Finley at an autograph session and on photo day. In both instances, I told him “We’re pulling for you.” He seemed to genuinely appreciate the sentiment. I’m sure Cheryl (my wife) looked at me and laughed because I had been so hard on him sitting in the stands.

Fact was I hated his statistics, but I could not hate the person. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have to say anything at all, but when the opportunity presented itself, I wanted to give encouragement instead of silence or worse.

By all accounts, Wood is a good guy. Personally, I think he could probably use a little support. I want him to succeed in the worst way. I have empathy for a guy who’s been waiting so long for his opportunity. He never complained once. He never showed any sense of entitlement. He just went about his business and waited for his chance.

Through his early struggles, he’s never even shown any frustration and still goes out and plays pretty good defense. He’s also had a few bad breaks on well hit balls.

Now I’m not trying to tell fans how they should act (although you might think otherwise based on what I’m writing). I just choose not to boo the players on my favorite team. Have I ever done it? I probably have, but I couldn’t tell you who or when. I would assume it was only out of pure frustration and not any actual hatred.

Baseball is such a tough game. It’s designed to make players fail far more often that they succeed.

And I keep coming back to something Torii Hunter has said many times and that’s to treat people the way you want to be treated. I know he didn’t invent that saying, but I’ve heard him say it so many times, I’ve come to associate the phrase with him.

I fail at a lot of things. Thankfully, no one is there to boo me when I do (and yes, I understand no one is paying to watch me work). Writing this has made me reflect a lot on this topic. I’ll boo the opponent at the drop of a hat (after all, the Yankees are in town), but I will make a conscious effort not to do that when the players on my favorite team struggles. I will reserve the right to boo if someone goes Jose Guillen on us though.

If I have a complaint, I’ll voice it in other ways. I hear blogging is popular.

Now before I end this post, I want to address the one thing that the anti-Wood crowd continues to bring up ad nauseum and that’s Troy Glaus.

It seems as if no one can complain about Wood without bringing up the year the Angels let Troy Glaus walk. I have three words for those people… Get Over It.

Troy Glaus played 91 games in 2003 and only 58 games in 2004. When his contract came up at the end of the 2004 season, there were serious questions about his health and whether or not he’d be able to play third base again. They were legitimate questions. At the same time – Dallas McPherson was coming off some great years in the minor leagues and appeared to be ready.

The Angels made the decision to let Glaus walk and give McPherson a shot. It didn’t work out; mostly because McPherson ended up being the bigger injury risk of the two; but never-the-less, some fans can’t let it go.

It was the right decision at the time. Hind sight tells us otherwise, but that’s baseball. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you have to try to do the best you can with the amount of information you have.

Letting Glaus walk was the right decision at the time; given the circumstances. I can’t blame the Angels for being apprehensive about giving Glaus a multi-year contract at that time.

Again, I know it didn’t work out, but to lament on that part of Angels’ history is pointless and irrelevant when talking about Brandon Wood. The Angels are right to give Wood a shot now. If it doesn’t work out; it’s still the right move. We need to see what he can do.

And let’s not forget that all of this eventually paved the way for Chone Figgins to have a few good years in Anaheim. Most fans totally leave out that tid bit during the discussion.

Moving on. Bring on the Yankees.

Let’s hope the stench from Joe Saunders’ performance last night has dissipated by game time. Yeah, I just said that. Joe stunk last night and he’s not helping my case against the sabermetric types that keep projecting a lack luster season for him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge Saunders fan and I look for him to rebound next Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians.

Now about those Yankees...

BallHype: hype it up!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I couldn't agree more with this blog entry. I've been wanting to create a blog about this exact situation, but you hit the nail right on the head.