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Yesterday, Alfonso Soriano rocketed a liner right at Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who appeared to catch the ball. In fact, he bobbled the liner just after having it in his glove, and ultimately dropped the ball. Soriano, believing Middlebrooks had caught, or was certain to catch, the ball, didn’t run to first, and was easily thrown out after Middlebrooks corralled the ball.

The boos were intense.

And they continued long after the half inning, and after Soriano had assumed his usual position in front of the left field bleachers. The Wrigley faithful were unkind, as they have often been to Soriano, in particular, since he joined the team on an eight-year, $136 million contract five and a half seasons ago.

Soriano, to his credit, has always put on a smile, and shrugged off the cascade of criticisms he’s faced over the years, targeting his declining production, his spotty defense, his home-plate-stare-down routine, and a perceived laziness. He continues to work hard behind the scenes, play through pain, mentor young players, exemplify what it means to be a good teammate, and try to play the best he can.

But yesterday, none of that mattered. And, after the game, Soriano lost his cool.

“It’s unfair because it’s a hard line drive into the third baseman’s glove,” Soriano said to reporters after the game. “I’m happy my teammates and my manager and the coaches support me. They know I’m working hard to be a better player and be a better teammate.”

When asked why the fans don’t seem to know that, Soriano soured.

“I don’t think they understand the game,” Soriano said. “It’s a line drive, nothing you can do about it. If it’s a ground ball, they can do whatever they want [if I didn't run]. I don’t know what [the fans] want.”

Soriano’s manager very much had his player’s back.

“That’s one of those things where 100 percent of every player in the history of baseball would do the same thing,” Dale Sveum said. “I know I did it a lot a lot of times in my career. You hit a ball that hard and hit it right at somebody and you think it’s in the glove and you put your head down and unfortunately, it gets away from him.

“The fact of the matter is everybody in this clubhouse knows how hard Sori works and how hard he’s played this year, and the balls he’s run out and the work he puts in to be a better outfielder. No matter what those legs feel like every day, he’s gone out there every day if it’s optional hitting. There’s not a guy in that clubhouse who wouldn’t give the shirt off their back for him.”

At the game, you can understand why some fans might not have immediately seen the play as easily excusable – without the benefit of replay, on a bang-bang play, all that many saw was a hard hit ball toward the third baseman, who controlled the ball, and threw to first while Soriano essentially stood and watched.

Here’s a video of the play for those who missed it live. Was Soriano’s reaction appropriate? I tend to agree with Soriano and Sveum that this is how just about anyone would react on that particular play:

  • Kevin

    Paying customers have the right to express their feelings. Don’t be surprised if Dale and Alfonso are boo’d for awhile.

    • MichiganGoat

      True but that doesn’t mean it right. Is this what we want? Id like to think we can be better than this, not exactly the environment I want to take my daughter to or beieve is acceptable.

  • Joker

    I think we are all overlooking the most important thing here:

    Tim McCarver and Joe Buck suck.

    • Chi-Coff

      I think I can speak for everyone here and say this: for those of us who feel that Soriano should have run the ball out, our feelings have absolutely nothing to do with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Those of us who were at the game did not even know they were calling the game. And if I had been at home watching the game, the volume on the TV would have been turned down so I could listen to Pat and Keith.

    • Chi-Coff

      For the record, you’re right. They suck.

    • Pat

      Brenley would have been just as harsh, if not moreso. Of course, I regard Bob B as one of the stupidest people on this planet. He’s probably more responsible than anyone for the bashing of Soriano and Ramirez (two of the players on the team who were actually good at baseball).

      • gratefulled

        You don’t seem to intelligent yourself. Bob Brenly has a big ring that says Champions on it. Don’t hate someone because they know more about baseball than you. Dumbass.

    • SouthernCub

      agree, almost as bad as Joe Morgan. They could all use a gulp of shut-the-hell-up.

  • Don

    It doesn’t take any talent to hustle. Fans expect this from every player including those
    Making 18 million per year. The issue goes well beyond last night’s game as Sori throughout his career gives the appearance of a lackadaisical approach to the game. Too many singles admired by Sori that bounced off the wall that Sori thought were home runs. Fans expect hustle on every play.

    • DRock

      Totally agree. Even when he saw Middlebrooks drop it, he still didn’t move…SMH…Totally Unacceptable. The fans had every right to boo.

  • Mark

    The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. It simply appears to all of us in the stands that Soriano consistently does not care. And sure how paycheck numbers are taken into consideration. When you are paid like that you should always go the extra mile every time.

  • scorecardpaul

    I rarely post on this site, but this is a litle rediculous.
    Yes he would have been out.
    yes, lots of players would not have run(they would have stopped and been pissed)
    Yes it is ok that he didn’t run
    Yes, I HATE the fact that Cub fans boo their own players
    No, he shouldn’t have said what he said after the game
    Yes, he should have run until he was called out

    This is not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be, but lets not lie about it, he should have been running, and his past performance, and a bad contract have a lot to do with the reason we all want to pay all of his salary and dump him from this team.

    We need to keep looking to the future, and see this for what it is.

    Baseball players at all level should keep playing until they are called out.

  • Big Joe

    If you can’t see that it was a very average response by Soriano, and you want to boo the guy, you’re just an asshole. Every player at that game, when asked, said they would have reacted the same way. All of them. I’ll take the word if a dozen professional ball players, over the casual fan, any day. Soriano is busting his ass. The guy is producing with the bat. He’s playing on one leg. And, as another poster said, he’s the least convenient scapegoat this shirtty team, during this, sure to be, shitty season. I like the guy more and more when this type of thing happens. He could have really spoken his mind, when asked about it. I wouldn’t have blamed him at all. Keep doing your thing, Alf.

  • Kevin

    Fox Sports have ruined Saturday baseball.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      And you expect what else from the Network that cancelled Futurama and Firefly?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        They cancelled Family Guy once, too.

        • MichiganGoat

          Meh, I’m indifferent wit Family Guy. South Park’s beef with Family Guy is my same complaint, but it does make me laugh sometimes

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I always had mixed feelings about Family Guy.  Stewie and the Dog are great, but I hate the rest of the characters.  Still, Fox kept many worse shows on the air.

  • Pingback: Dale Sveum and Alfonso Soriano Sound Kinda Mad at the Fans … | Baseball News Report

  • Aaron

    I think booing of any player for any team you root for is absurd. Long time Cubs fan and I have seen my fare share of disappointing players however never once would I even think of booing them because why…they are in a Cubbies jersey which so happens to be the team we are all rooting for so instead of booing lets keep our focus on what is to come.

  • Czarnicks

    I have been a regular reader of this site for a while, but this is my first post. I was at the game sitting seven rows up behind the Cub’s dugout. If he had been hustling out of the box, he probably still doesn’t beat it out. That being said, maybe he forces a rushed throw from Middlebrooks. It happened earlier in the game and it pulled Ortiz off of the bag. Once he dropped the ball, Soriano just stood there and watched. I think that is why all of the fans booed him. I did feel sorry for him after the initial boos came because there were a couple of fans near me who just wouldn’t let it go. Every time Sori came out of or into the dugout, they were all over him and I could tell it was getting to him. I even heard one guy say that people in the bleachers should start throwing things at him. I mean come on. Really. I bet those same fans would have been his biggest fans had he homered in the eighth to tie the game.

    • DRock

      Good point. I was at the game too and felt the same way. He should have started to run once he saw Middlebrooks drop it, but he didn’t. That is the part I was mad about.

  • http://www.strandedcub.wordpress.com Brandon

    This is absolutely ridiculous that this is even a discussion. You can’t run out a ball that is lined to the third baseman and caught (which is what he thought and what I thought right away.) It’s the casual not so smart fans that would boo Sori for this. As he said, boo him if he doesn’t run out a groundball, sure. But a line drive to the third baseman? Every single human being who understands baseball enough to play it would have done the same exact thing. The ball was literally in Middlebrooks glove for a bit.

    It pisses me off insanely and really puts a bad name on Cubs fans in general to show that we don’t understand baseball. Ignorance.

    • DRock

      Brandon, the reason people were mad at Sori was because he did not step foot out of the batter’s box EVEN AFTER he saw Middlebrooks drop the ball. Completely unacceptable. That is ignorance and anyone who tries to defend him for that is ignorant including our great manager and Reed Johnson.

      • MichiganGoat

        You don’t think this has anything to do with the fact that people were angry at Sori before he even picked up his bat, and this just gave everyone an excuse to spew the bike they have been collecting?

      • Cubs Dude

        I am so over Sori I can’t take it anymore. I know he’s a good guy and good locker room presence, but am ready for him to be traded yesterday for anything. With that said I think it’s ridiculous he’s getting a bad wrap on the line drive thing. He did what 99% of players would do. And frankly the less that guy runs the better, because his leg will fall off anyday now, and then we definitely won’t get jack for him.

      • GoldFinch

        That’s it in a nutshell! For people to come out and say Cubs fans are ignorant about baseball, drunk, racist, etc.is just plain nonesense. And for Sveum to say”100% of players would do the same thing” is astonishing, IMO.

        • calicubsfan007

          GoldFinch: How are you hombre? Everything cool now on here? Haven’t really seen anyone trying to beat you with your own words lately, which is a positive start right?

          • GoldFinch

            I’m good, how about U? I’m doing my best to keep my emotion in check. I think thats what gets me in trouble.(LOL) Thanks for asking.

            • calicubsfan007

              Gold Finch: I am golden. I am playing Rainbow Six Vegas 2 online right now. Love that game! Can’t wait til Rainbow Six Patriots!

  • Martin

    Soriano needs to understand that, for many, many Cubs fans, he’s just not white enough to make that mistake.

    • DRock

      Martin, this is the kind of comment that does not belong on this site. Brett, did you see this one? Delete please…

      • MichiganGoat

        Duplicate deleted

      • MichiganGoat

        DRock, I agree that this sounds bad and if the intention and reading appears racist then yes it should be removed. But when this first happened there was a very deep discussion about what impact Sori’s race has on all the aftermath of this play. I still believe that if Sandberg, Santo, or even DeRosa or ReJo did this there would not be this much disgust and rage. We can ignore how race impacts sports, but as in life it does. But to everyone else, be carefully how you word your responses when discussing race. These Couragous Conversations (awesome book find it) are important to have.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I could be misreading, but I think Martin is not making a racist comment, but is instead expressing his belief that some Cubs fans are racist. I don’t agree with his point, but it is not, itself, a racist comment.

        • DRock

          Ok, but as a white man who does not look at color, but rather, simply baseball skills, hustle, etc., etc. I was offended by Martin and any other person who says we are critical of Soriano because he is black. That is absolutely ridiculous.

          • Kyle

            The idea isn’t that fans intentionally do it. It’s subtle, societal stereotyping. Baseball is a complicated game, and when faced with subjects more complicated than the human mind can handle, we tend to fall back on easier ideas.

            It’s uncanny how many fans insist they don’t look at color, but how many players get their hustle and baseball skills grouped into categories similar with other players of their race.

            We went over the list in the offseason. Carlos Zambrano was a hothead, but Ron Santo was passionate. Sammy Sosa quit on his team, but Ryne Sandberg was just looking out for his family. Starlin Castro is lazy on the basepaths when he gets thrown out on the basepaths, but Ryan Theriot was just being aggressive.

            It’s similar to the issue of comps. You could have watched the Baseball Network draft coverage for three days and not heard a single comp that wasn’t between a prospect and established player of the same race.

          • Beer Baron

            I must ask, did you boo Reed Johnson in the 1st when he got doubled off on the line drive to Pedroia? Because making sure the line drive goes through is a fundamental we all learned in little league, but I didn’t hear a peep out of anyone when he ran into an unassisted double play. The reaction to Soriano seemed way over the top and disproportionate – whether that is due to his contract or his race or just the fact that fans were more lathered-up by the 6th inning (or perhaps all three). I mean the team is 20+ games under .500 in mid-June, and that is the one play that they decide to voice their displeasure on ? There’s clearly more to the story than they just don’t like laziness.

            • GoldFinch

              Again, lets not turn this into a fan problem. Soriano has for the most part brought all this on himself. I don’t think the fans were just reacting to just that one play.(I know I wasn’t) It’s a cumulative thing with Soriano since he has been a Cub! Like it or not, his blunders since becoming a Cub are “ingrained” in peoples minds. I think that is the bottom line.

              • Martin

                And race/ethnicity/minority status is also “ingrained” in people’s minds. To claim it doesn’t exist and you’re judging based on performance only and nothing else is laughable.

                I could name 10 to 20 situations in which Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Ryan Theriot, et. al. did almost exactly what Soriano did, but Soriano is “lazy” and those players aren’t.

                • GoldFinch

                  I’d like to see it. You said you could name10 to 20, let me see replays, because I am old enough to where I have seen them all them play! You are full of malarkey!

        • Martin

          That’s exactly my point. “Racist” is a bit more than I’d go with, but I think it is fairly obvious that stereotypes play into the conversation about players all the time and influence the way the fans (the majority of whom are white) perceive the players. Players like reed johnson and and Ryan theriot get called “scrappy” and “smart” a heck of a lot more often than minority players. There are, of course, exceptions (Jeter comes to mind), but those stereotypes are prevalent and should not be ignored.

          • Cheryl

            I’m sorry but this conversation in itself is a stereotype. I don’t care if a player is black, white or purple. My criteria is he plays well- period!

            • Martin

              No, it’s not. You can say that all you want, but the subconscious influence of stereotypes is in everyone. The more we say “I don’t see color,” the worse it gets. Admitting that you, even subconsciously, have a different reaction to a white player and a minority player doesn’t make you a Hitler-wannabe racist, it just makes you human. And unless you can admit to it, you’ll never change.

              • GoldFinch

                I think you just need to shut up! Nobody has any “subconscious” feelings here about minority players. Are you a psychologist that has diagnosed a particular commenter about racism? You need to just go away!

  • RWakild

    If this was the first time Soriano stopped to watch a ball after hitting it, the fan’s wouldn’t be so critical. It’s not. I don’t care if he is purple. If a player doesn’t hustle, I don’t like him.

    • die hard

      so you dont like Castro either for same hot diggity dogging it reasons too?…Join the club

      • Carew

        Ive heard that Castro is always a hustler, he just loses focus

    • hansman1982

      you know what is odd…noone seemed to complain when Soriano stopped to admire that 3rd deck shot at Target Field…

      ZOMG!! HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN SPRINTING OUT OF THE BOX!!!

      • DRock

        Huh? Hitting a no-doubter home run into the 3rd deck, doesn’t compare to hitting to 3rd and the guy drops the ball and you still stand there…

        • hansman1982

          What if the ball hit a bird and dropped in front of the left fielder? That happens once every 10,000 plays.

          • DRock

            Nice! I love it! LMAO

  • chiorgerg

    I just saw 61* for the first time and anyone who has ever seen it should agree that no fan should ever boo someone on their team

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      What a great movie. I’ve only seen it once and it was years ago, but it always stuck in my mind. I need to watch that one again sometime soon.

  • Mark O

    Really? Anyone with any baseball experience that actually ever hit a ball that hard would have reacted the same way soriano did. I am a soriano backer do I agree he should be paid as much as he is no. No player is worth that much. Fonsie gets a bad rap

  • florida al

    Give the guy a break people, you wouldnt have run either!

  • Cubbies4Life

    I was there and had the advantage of seeing the third baseman bobble the ball from an angle that Sori could not have seen. That being said, I believe every player should put his head down and hustle to first base no matter what. And THAT being said, it seems to me that some folks are forgetting that if it wasn’t for Soriano so far this miserable season, the Cubs would have way fewer runs than they do now! When he returned to left field and people started loudly booing, I couldn’t believe it. I guess it’s frustration and I can understand that – but come on, people! I did not join in the booing, and one guy in my section was yelling “stop it!” to some others in the stands who were. I was hoping Sori would come back out and smack one over the ivy to silence the haters, but it was not to be. Our frustration with this season is certainly universal – but it cannot be directed at one single player. BTW, I was wearing my Soriano t-shirt – but escaped the park unscathed.

  • Scotti

    There is a huge difference between not running before an out is made (grounder) and not running after you assume the out is made (line drive to a 3B). It would have actually been stupid for any player to have run in that situation. It isn’t “hussle” to try to get on base after an out is made… And once it was clear that out wasn’t made NO player could have out run the thrown ball. Every player at every level stops when they beleive the out is made and that is playing the game the right way.

    • Sweetjamesjones

      The only argument that could be made against that is: what if he botches the throw to first? The chances of that happening are slim.

      Its just people wanting another excuse to hate Soriano.

  • Ogyu

    Gee, I sure am glad this dicussion of Soriano is continuing for another day…

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=22197665&c_id=mlb

    Nobody made a big deal about Carlos Gonzalez not running out this line drive right at the pitcher. A line drive in which the pitcher appeared to catch the ball then the ball kinda flug out of his glove. So with a runner on first, the pitcher tried to make a double play out of it by throwing out the runner at second and then throwing out Gonzalez at first while. Carlos hit the ball right at the pitcher and took about one step before he stopped and just kinda stood around near home plate instead of busting down to first just in case. The point isn’t whether the ball was caught or not. The point is nobody seemed to have any issue when Gonzalez rips a line drive right to an infielder and doesn’t hustle down to first in the rare chance that the fielder misplayed the ball.

    Like many have said, it’s just people looking for an excuse to boo Soriano. It’s a shame that he is the scapegoat for a team and organization that can’t seem to put it all together, with or without Soriano.

  • MichiganGoat

    One final comment: As a Goat can we please find another word beside scapegoat? It’s insulting to my kind and Goats will continue to eat your shirt until we remove this hate word from our vocabulary. ;)

    • Ogyu

      Don’t let ‘em get your goat, MG. You’ve got to learn to separate the sheep from the goats, or you’ll end up being a sacrifical lamb.

      • MichiganGoat

        Oh trust me the only reason reason we even associate with sheep is for that reason.

    • hansman1982

      go away you vile scapegoat!!!!! That’s right I’m a species-ist – dang proud of it too!

  • Cheryl

    Maybe I’m from another school of thought but I don’t like to catagorize. I don’t like to stereotype. I don’t like it when someone says he’s too young or too old to play in the majors. I don’t like it when people distort a person’s ability because of skin color and I don’t like it when someone says – ‘a woman can never be a major league ball player.’ The only thing that should be taken into consideration in a sport like baseball is ability.

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