This is a baseball blog that hardly talks about baseball so I thought we'd try something a little different this week and you know, actually talk about baseball. To do this I enlisted some help and had an email chat with Al Bethke of Al's Ramblings, one of my favorite Brewers blogs. Al mostly concentrates on the sabermetric side of the Brewers and generally takes a contrarian viewpoint on most things. When it's all said and done he ends up being right a whole lot more than he is wrong which kind of makes him annoying (I kid.) It got kind of long so we are going to break it into two parts, with part two tomorrow.
Miller Park Drunk: Okay, let's kick this thing off Al. One thing that I have written about in the past that has gotten a lot of feedback from my readers is the subject of booing. There are a lot of people out there who think it's okay to boo people who are under performing or making generally bad decisions. I was at the ESPN game this past Tuesday against the Cardinals and the crowd was openly booing Suppan when he was pulled. It just doesn't make any sense to me. You are a bit more of a Suppan apologist than I am, but at the same time whether I like him or not I am smart enough to realize that no matter what happens he is going to be starting every fifth day for the rest of the season. To me, you should never boo your own team under any circumstances. Boo your umpires. Boo your Barry/Manny/A-Rod's of the world. Boo your Sheffields. Leave your own team alone. It's almost like people who beat their dog for going to the bathroom in the house. It does absolutely nothing to change things and just makes your dog hate you. What I'm wondering is how you feel on the subject of booing and why do you think that so many casual Brewers fans think it's okay? I don't see how Mike Cameron striking out three times in a game is worse than their beloved Brett Favre throwing 15 interceptions in the first half.
AL: I agree completely. The only time I feel it is at all acceptable to boo is when you see a complete lack of effort. Even then, however, casual fans don't "get it". To me, a lack of effort is walking back to the dugout on a routine ground ball to short. To Joe Talk Radio Guy, it's having a ball drop within 50 feet of them. I remember last year, Cameron made a great play on a base hit in the LCF gap, came up firing, and held the batter to a long single. Despite this fine play, I see on the message boards that fans were critical of him for not firing to the plate to get the runner on 2B. Roberto Clemente did not have the arm to make that throw, and certainly no one playing today does. But, to some, any single should result in a play at the plate. I still recall a talk show host arguing that the OF should not come in with the winning run at 3B, because then on a deep fly ball "you don't even have a chance" at throwing out the runner. Of course not, you don't if you catch it either. So, to make a long comment a bit less long, I would say I agree with you, to boo the home team is pretty much always wrong. I don't really get booing the opposition either, as it's fun to be booed, because they only boo the really good players. Indifference is properly shown by silence.
Let's be honest, even a guy like Suppan has a ton of value, so to somehow think he's a problem is wrong. Ditto for anyone on the team. The really sad thing about Favre is he has been just a shell of his former self for 5-10 years, but no one is unbiased enough to say that. Favre himself doesn't get it either, as he expects different rules to apply to him.
MPD: Sorry to mix in that Favre comment, but I just can't help myself but to make fun of the guy. I've always thought this just about said it all.
Anyways to stick with the booing thing for a moment I want to take you back to last season. The team is in the heat of a pennant race. Every game mattered. They needed to win them all, but this is baseball and that sort of thing is just not possible. In the final days before Yost's firing the team was being routinely booed at home. Now clearly this makes no sense and is rather stupid. We know that. I am not trying to ask you why this happened or even if we're on the same page because I know that we are. What I'm wondering is this: did this sort of thing happen at County Stadium? Did this thing happen in the early Miller Park years? For most of the County Stadium days I was young and naive, happy to be in the same building as a superstar like BJ Surhoff. Then I was living out of state for awhile and it wasn't as easy to keep up with the team as it is now thanks to the internet. Were people booing in 1992 when the team finished 2nd in the East to the eventual World Champion Blue Jays (who actually had a worse Pythagorean record than the Brewers)? Was Sexson hearing the boos for "only" hitting 45 home runs? Or did this just start in 2007 when the team played over it's head early then came back to Earth down the stretch? I've always thought the booing was directly related to unrealistic expecations and that there may be something we could do to change it, but if this is something deeply ingrained for generations we're probably just screwed. Give me some hope here Al.
AL: Has there always been booing? Of course. Is it oodles worse than ever before? Without a doubt. Some of it is due to casual fans simply buying a higher percentage of the seats; a lower knowledge base of the average fan, as their heads are full of so much other stuff, there's less room for baseball truths; and probably most of all, a belief that it's ok to rip on people without any idea of what you're talking about.
For example, I find it ironic that for ages, fans ripped on everything Rickie Weeks did. Now that he's injured, there's no one good enough to replace him, unless they can trade for an all-star. As proof, you'll find many casuals saying Bill Hall ought to start at 2B...what? His problem is he cannot hit RHP...how will that go away playing a spot he's not as good at defensively, 2B? I predicted a pair of platoons soon after Weeks went down, it's not rocket science. That, and the continued ignorance of OBP and how working the count helps your team, is really tough to take. You know these are buffoons booing.