When it comes to being booed by your own fans, Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano knows a thing or two.

After signing an eight year, $136 million contract with the Cubs before the 2007 season, expectations that Soriano would be the team’s dominant star were unfairly high in the subsequent few years. Soriano was solid in 2007 and 2008, though he battled injuries both years. Then, in 2009, his production fell off dramatically. Worse, the perception of his defense in left field – generally considered average with a good arm – turned dramatically sour after a stretch of what seemed like daily blunders. The hop didn’t help.

That’s when fans started booing Soriano.

They were booing his poor defense, and his poor production. But I think if you could really drill down into fans’ collective head Freud-style, you find that they were really booing Soriano’s performance relative to the expectations created by his contract. This, of course, was not Soriano’s fault. He’s a guy who, by all accounts, tries his hardest before, during, and after the game.

So, when asked about the boos raining down on cross-town big contract signee Adam Dunn, Soriano didn’t hold back.

“He’s a great player. The fans, they don’t understand when the player’s struggling, how hard it is and how he is trying,” Soriano said. “He cannot think about. He’s got to try to do the best he can to just concentrate on the game. The fans, they come to see the players do good, but sometimes they want to look at something negative and boo the guy. That’s nothing new. That’s the way it is here.”

Ouch. That’s the way it is here? That’s the way the fans are in Chicago?

“It’s the worst,” Soriano continued. “I played in New York, but the fans are worse here. But at the same time, I understand. Fans can get frustrated because they want the team to win, and they want the players to hit. At the same time, the game’s not easy.”

Knowing what we know about how hard Soriano tries, I really can’t be too upset about Soriano’s comments. Obviously I hope they are inaccurate (are Chicago fans really worse than, say, Philadelphia fans? I suspect that recent success in Philadelphia obscures the wrath of that fanbase), but I can’t blame Soriano for telling us how he feels. And he wasn’t so much complaining as responding to direct questions.

In other words, he was doing the best he could. And I’m certainly not going to boo him for it.

  • Noah

    do we really think soriano is giving full effort all the time? i know this isnt what the article was about but i always think it seems like he’s loafing out in the outfield and usually on the basepaths. not chasing balls hard and definately not trying to beat any plays out at first. maybe im wrong but thats how it always looks to me. having said that i still dont think that fans should boo their own team for anything except not giving effort, no way it helps in any way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      I used to think Soriano was kind of a loafer. But then there was a spate of stories over the past year about how hard he works on his fielding and in the cage (people talking about him like he’s the hardest worker on the team). I think he just looks like a loafer in the field sometimes because, in his mind, he’s playing under control.

      And the hop made him look like he didn’t give a shit.

      • Jelly

        He looks like a loafer at times because he doesn’t really seem to be paying attention to the game. I went to two of the games they played in Detroit a few years back, and the first one (a night game) was the same night Detroit had their 4th of July fireworks show. It was going on during the game, and Sori was watching the fireworks WHILE THE GAME WAS HAPPENING. Not while waiting for the inning to start. While pitches were actually being thrown, he was watching fireworks.

        That said, I don’t completely hate him. As a kid who played outfield in little league, I know I rarely paid attention to the game!

  • Andy

    We are ridiculous with the booing. Have been for a while. When you boo before a player actually does anything, it’s pretty pathetic.

    • EQ

      We boo because we are sick of a century of losing and under-performing.. i still remember being at Wrigley in ’04 after we got Nomar… thinking we would be a sure lock for the playoffs… Sosa was struggling, he was getting booed relentlessly. dude hit 60+ hrs 3 years in a row and we’re booing him.. funny.

  • Toosh

    Soriano’s average numbers for his last 6 years before signing with the Cubs. 41 HR, 93 RBI, 35 SB, .281 BA. His first 4 years with the Cubs? 27 HR, 70 RBI, 13 SB, .271 BA. In the “easier” league and division. He should be getting booed. And be ashamed of himself.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      That’s cold, Toosh.

  • Toosh

    Just sayin’, Ace. When Soriano signed with the Cubs, I thought it was a mistake, but when I looked at the numbers he’d put up in his career, mostly in the A.L. East, I expected those numbers to at least stay similar, if not go up. The Cubs will have a lot of money coming off the books after this season, but the thing they really need off the club is Soriano.

    • EQ

      I thought his best seasons were in Texas and Washington, not New York. Either way, his numbers have dropped off substantially.. the alarming drop to me is the stolen bases.. if there’s a leg problem, it would affect speed and power.. much of a hitters power comes from the legs.. no matter what, no player should be signed for 8 years..

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      I thought the signing was a big mistake, too. I don’t know that that, or his declining production, entitle us to boo him, personally, though.

      • Toosh

        I have to assume all players are trying to do their best. Fans also have the right to express how they feel.

  • Andy

    How is booing the players helping? Does it change how they play? Does it change the way management drafts, trades or signs free agents?

    It creates an environment where players don’t want to play at their home field. Possible FA’s might think twice about coming to Wrigley. Cubs brass may have to pay more to get the players they want.

    Presumably, these are players we WANT to play well. So we do it by booing them?

    If we boo players because they’re not working hard, why do we not boo ARam?

  • Brian

    I think Soriano is just making a statement rather than bitching about Chicago fans. Players (especially outfielders) are going to see and hear negative things about themselves when they are not doing well. It is good to see Soriano hold his pride and trot out to his left field corner every game. Soriano or any struggling player could take it the wrong way and let the crowd’s reactions demolish their career. Perfect example: Milton Bradley. We all know his story and the main moral of it is to not let the fans pick away at your brain. He reacted to the fans which led to his awful performance on the field.

    Soriano is a lot better than Bradley in my book mainly because he can take the heat.

    As for Adam Dunn, well after seeing him blast shots off of the Cubs for years, It’s very refreshing to see him come up empty this year.

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    I’ve been to many many Cubs games in my time. I never booed a Cub.

    I did, however, bring a sheet (when I was15) with “YOU BUM” spray-painted on it.
    Before the the game my buddies and I sat in the first row of the upper deck and yelled at Milo Hamilton, who was out on the field doing pre-game interviews, and when he looked up we unfurled our piece of art.
    Milo laughed and my friend’s shoe, which was tied to the bottom of the sheet, fell down into the expensive seats.
    We were immediately and politely told by security that we couldn’t unfurl that sheet again.
    I think my friend hopped down and got shoe back….

    But I don’t boo the Cubs.

  • Roughriider

    55 years as a Cub fan. Never ever booed a Cub player or another teams player. Managers and umpires are another thing.

  • Roughriider

    I do yell at the TV when Soriano trikes out on a low and way outside pitch with runners in scoring position.

  • Jeff

    I don’t boo the home team, no matter how bad it gets. I think Alfonso, like others, has taken the brunt of frustrated Cubs fan ire, if not for his contract or performance, then simply because he represents the under achieving status of the entire team. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve cursed and spit at home when ARam takes a lazy swing at a 3-2 breaking ball down and away with runners in scoring position, or when James Russell serves up another home run, or any time Koyie Hill steps to the plate. I don’t think booing your own players is going to accomplish anything but showing the team in a negative light, and I don’t think anyone has gotten better from being booed at home.

    That said, the Cubs have the highest average ticket price in baseball, the fans have bought and paid for the right to boo or cheer whomever they want, so shut up and deal with it. Soriano needs to worry about things he can control, like that lazy, looping swing that seems to show up every other at bat lately.

  • CUB5

    Soriano should know as he’s had a LOT of firsthand experience with them.

  • Kozimorski

    I’ve never booed Soriano or any other Cub at a game, but I do criticize his weaknesses of which he has many. His career in Chicago has been a huge disappointment. As Toosh pointed out his numbers are down across the board. He has absolutely no speed, he’s been caught lollygagging several times and has got to be the WORST defensive outfielder with a starting job. If this were the NFL, the Cubs would have cut him after 2009. When I think of hard working players on this roster, 2 names come to mind.
    1. Reed Johnson
    2. Marlon Byrd (even he heard boos earlier this season)

    I personally do not boo my own team, but I don’t blame others should they decide to do it. I certainly understand their frustration.

  • hardtop

    i dont boo anyone eithe, although ive been tempted, and fonzie has tempted more than any other cub. when theres 2 on, 2 out, he’s sitting on 2 strikes and he chases that piece of crap low and outside pitch while clearly looking away from the ball… it just make me nuts! for the kind of money he gets paid to hit the ball, he should be able to put a decent pitch and play and layoff balls that are diving out of the strike zone the second they leave the pitchers hand. Dunn too! and if they dont know it, its okay with me if the fans educate or remind them, in cases such as these.

  • awesome

    booing is a form of criticizing, so i criticize when he stands at home and admires his fly ball outs, i criticize him when he doesn’t run out a ground ball cause in his “mind” it’s an automatic out, i criticize him when he looks at the CF’er instead of going full out for the fly balls, i criticize/boo him when he misplays balls that don’t show up as errors. i criticize/boo him cause he’s lazy.

    so all the hard work before (not during) and after games doesn’t mean jack shit. and that hard work as he admits, just started this year.

    what did Ozzie say about the booing of Dunn?

    you want to stop the booing, start hitting. Soriano said Dunn was a great player, that’s how silly Soriano is. Dunn was not, is not, never will be a great player. Sox fans wants to see the Dunn hit.

    was Soriano complaining when the fans cheered him his first 2 years?

    Cub fans want to see Soriano hustle, that alone would improve his fielding/game.

    people appreciate players who try. i criticize/boo him as i do Aram, for not giving 100% most of the time. i criticize cause i don’t believe he works hard.
    how hard can it be to run out a ground ball? a fly ball, any hit ball.

  • TSB

    If a plumber doesn’t do his job, or does a shoddy job, he doesn’t get paid.Soriano doesn’t do his job, he still gets the money, so why whine about some boos? It could be worse.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      I’m going to start booing my plumber.

  • cdc

    ACE…don’t kid yourself or believe everything you read! Soriano is a loafer…and even he knows it! i went to a game in 2009 against the Astros. somewhere around the 6th inning he tapped a dribbler down the 3rd baseline and didn’t even flinch out of the box. 3rd baseman picked up the ball and threw him out, meanwhile soriano looked at the home plate up for a minute like “help me out and call it foul”…people who were at the game paying attention and “WATCHING BASEBALL” started booing relentlessly(me and my brother were all over him)…then the real kicker, as he trots back out to the outfield he has like 3 or 4 balls in his glove and starts waving them at the left field bleacher fans who start clamoring for Soriano to please them with a baseball. Eventually all the balls end up in the bleachers and the fans start cheering him wildly and love him unconditionally! Those fans will take the laziness if it means they get a bone thrown their way. Soriano ended up hitting a grand slam in extras to win that night and some fans even had choice words for me as the game was ending about booing and standing behind the guy! i thought it was a joke and still do to this day…i traveled to wrigley from nebraska for those three games and i’d boo his ass again relentlessly if put in the same posititon!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      While I don’t necessarily agree that Soriano is a habitual loafer, I do agree that loafing is something I boo.

  • cdc

    as a matter of fact FUCK SORIANO. his solo homers when we’re behind 6-1 don’t blind me from the light.that said i have no problem with his comments to the question he was asked. i’m sure he does feel chicago cubs fans are the worst when it comes to booing and i hope i had something to do with it.

  • Ron

    I boo.

  • Brent

    I boo too. I don’t see Soriano giving back some of his millions or renegotiating his contract so the Cubs can spend some more $ on a player who can actually hit when a runner is in scoring position. Not that he needs to, but when you make that kind of money you better expect the boos. I think the fans who don’t boo forget the year before the Cubs signed him he had 46 HRs and 41 SBs. Seriously. The only way he’s getting a stolen base this year is if both the shortstop and second baseman drop dead during an attempt.