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cublogoverseThere was an excellent dialogue flying back and forth in the Cublogoverse a couple weeks ago (yes, yes, I’m late to the party) on the subject of booing. It’s actually consistently a hot topic in the Cubs world year in, year out. It must have something to do with the combination of increased expectations and continued suck (the boo side), along with rich history and a loving fan base (the no boo side).

Well two of my favorite Cublogoverse blogs, Not Qualified to Comment and Another Cubs Blog got into a war of words on the subject – culminating in boos on both sides.

It all started with a NQTC piece about booing Milton Bradley as opposed to booing formerly much-loved (not) Cubs outfielder, Jacque Jones. The article spoke on booing generally, but culminated in this:

So why was it not okay to boo Jacque Jones and okay to boo Milton?  Expectations.  Jacque Jones signed a 3-year $16 million dollar deal.  He had been the kind of guy that hit about .285 with 20 home runs a year before he signed that contract.  Not to say that isn’t a huge contract, but when he struggled in April by hitting around .230 Cubs fans mercilessly booed him.  It was 1 month and he wasn’t supposed to be an all-star.  Bradley’s contract is twice that and he has been even worse, hitting well below .200.

I guess my point is it’s ok to boo Bradley, but booing Jones wasn’t cool.

Interesting, provocative point. I don’t know that I agree with making that distinction, but I can appreciate it.

ACB fired back with a scathing criticism of the article. They took issue with the Jones/Bradley distinction, and took issue with the idea that expectations should have a role in who gets booed. Again, the predominant focus was on whether it’s ok to boo, generally.

So, baseball players are now accountable to the entire city in which they play?  Holy crap!  Seriously though, Milton Bradley isn’t an elected member of the Cubs.  He’s an employee of the Chicago Cubs.  Let’s take 2 people.  Person A makes $15 an hour.  Person B makes $10 an hour.  Is it then OK to treat Person A like shit because he makes more money than Person B?  I didn’t think so.  Money has nothing to do with this and accountability sure as hell has nothing to do with it.  At least not accountability to an entire city.  You’re a Cubs fan.  These guys are not accountable to you in any way, shape or form.

NQTC obviously didn’t take too well to the critique, and responded in short order.

On another note, the irony in your little post is so thick I can cut it with a knife.  The whole point of your piece is that people do not have a right to rudely treat players like shit just because those people don’t think the job the players are doing is satisfactory, right?  And yet here you are rudely and personally attacking the views of a fellow Cubs blogger (and loyal reader of your site) just because you think the post he wrote is less than satisfactory in your opinion.  I have no problem disagreeing and taking a stand, but come on, this was a little over the top.

Whew. Heated. As I said, I really like both of these blogs, so I’ll make no comment on anything other than the subject of the debate. I will say that reading the whole posts, and particularly the comments, would be time well spent.

So, yeah, booing. Let me put it out there: I’m a booer. Not often, and not without cause, but occasionally, I boo.

Are all “fans” who boo booing for the right reason (if there is such a thing)? Of course not. Are some just drunk idiots, possibly jealous of the hefty salaries the guys on the field rake in? Of course. Sometimes, booing is totally inappropriate.

But to suggest that booing is somehow inherently wrong is just as ridiculous as booing Jacque Jones on his way out to right field for the first time.

We boo to express our opinion. Of course it’s not as classy or eloquent as saying, “Gee, Milton, the Cubs are paying you a whole lot of money with the hopes that you’d play a whole lot better than you are right now. We know you’re trying, but step it up if possible. Oh, and appealing your suspension while injured on the bench, that was kind of lame.” But frankly, I tried to say all that, and I’m pretty sure Bradley didn’t hear me. So I said “boo.”

Does it make a difference on the field? Of course not (except maybe that it makes guys who are pressing and trying too hard – you know, press and tried too hard). But damn if it doesn’t make me feel a lot better.

And that’s really what professional sports are all about, aren’t they? They’re about ME. The collective me, that is. The fans. The teams would not exist without us, and the players wouldn’t get paid without us. They’re playing for me, in some grander sense. Does that give me the right to do whatever I please at the ballpark? No. But that doesn’t mean you can’t express displeasure, and do it with a modicum of decorum.

So I boo. Sometimes. Therefore I am.

  • http://zonersports.com/ Zoner

    Great stuff as usual. I boo, mostly in response to lack of hustle. And Cardinals.

  • http://notqualifiedtocomment.com/ Stormin Norman Disciple

    I agree completely! There has to be some sense of accountability and on top of that the only way we can express displeasure, or approval, is by booing or cheering!

  • http://www.anothercubsblog.net MB21

    That’s not true, Norman. Think about it. Do you honestly think the Cubs care if you pay for a ticket, buy drinks and merchandise and then boo? They’ll take your money every day and let you boo. They couldn’t care less since you’ve paid them money. They’re laughing all the way to the bank. The only real way to show your displeasure is not buy tickets, not purchase any merchandise and not watch the games. That would actually hurt the Cubs in a way they might care about. I can’t stand booing as you know, but if you want to pay me $50 to come into my place of employment and heckle me and and boo me every day, I’ll gladly take your money, and your abuse.

    You want to boo someone who isn’t trying, fine. I don’t like it, but it’s at least understandable. The only problem is that we really can’t tell when someone is trying or not. If Soriano jogged after a fly ball we might think he’s not trying, but then we might find out he has a sore knee and has played through it for a month and rather than be subjected to abuse, we might praise the guy for playing through pain. Simply put, as a fan we have no way of knowing what is actually going on down on the field when it comes to effort. We don’t have enough information. What we do know is that MLB players bust their ass more than the average person and in more ways than the average person just to get there and to stay at that level. That we know for a fact. We know for a fact that they all bust their ass and in reality, work harder than any of us in perfecting their craft. What happens in an individual game we don’t know why it happened and unless we know why it happened it’s kind of silly to boo, don’t you think?

    You may think you’re booing someone who isn’t trying, but as I already pointed out with Soriano, we didn’t know the whole story and despite not knowing it, he’s showed little sign of it. He’s busted his ass in ways that the average person simply could not do. and you know what? He’ll get repaid for that by fans booing the next time he fucks up.

    What annoys me most of all about booing isn’t that it’s ridiculing or abusing the players. It’s that I have a reasonable expectation of going to the ballpark with my family and being able to enjoy the game. i don’t ask for much. I’m not asking for anything other than the people around me to consider that I may find that behavior atrocious. Unfortunately, I no longer have the reasonable expectation that will happen. I can now reasonably expect the fans around me to be complete assholes and not care at all about me. It’s selfish. It’s rude. It’s annoying. It’s childish. And a whole lot more. Most of all, I can no longer go to a game because people feel they must pay lots of money to a team and then show their displeasure in the way that has the least amount of impact.

    You may feel as though I went too far as you said in your response, but it was you who went too far. It was you who disregarded how others feel about obnoxious behavior. It was you who then justified those childish actions. It was your selfish actions that makes me think two or three times about actually going to a game. It was your actions that have made me not attend a game in Chicago in 8 years (I go elsewhere to watch the Cubs because of you). It was you who told me flat out that you didn’t care if you ruined the experience for me and others around you. You’re like the person at the movies who keeps talking. you don’t care about the people around you. I didn’t feel as though I owed you an ounce of respect at that point. You’re the one who has to look in the mirror and justify childish, obnoxious and unruly behavior. You’re the one who said Fuck You to me.

    I simply pointed out how much it irritated me that someone would have no disregard for others around them.

    • Eric

      MB21, it’s time to become a Sox fan. i’ve always complained how obnoxious Cubs fans are. If i wanted to watch a game at a bar, I’d go to a bar.

      • Ace

        Now, I’m not one of those “everything White Sox is awful” Cubs fans, but… I mean… are you actually suggesting there aren’t a handful of obnoxious Sox fans here and there?

  • Ace

    The point about being respectful of your fellow fans is actually a great one. Shouting curse words, and being generally a drunken, obnoxious asshole for the entire game is not ok. No one who buys a ticket to a game expects that – nor should they.

    But they do expect there is a chance they’ll hear some boos. And if they don’t expect that, they’ve got to realign their sense of reality.

    I think there’s a balance (that if I may be so bold, I walk quite nicely) between disrespecting the other fans and the players, and expressing oneself in virtually the only way that the players will hear.

    “What we do know is that MLB players bust their ass more than the average person and in more ways than the average person just to get there and to stay at that level.”

    Had to drop a comment to this one – you’re right, they do. They work 10 times as hard as the average person. And then they get paid 100 times as much. Of all the aspects of this debate, I’m not going to lose any sleep over the hard-working ball players.

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