Yesterday, Carlos Marmol was booed twice by the home fans on Opening Day at Wrigley Field. The first of those boos came before he’d even thrown a single pitch. The second came after his very first pitch.
Marmol, who pitched a scoreless but ugly frame, took the booing in stride, refusing to call out the fans who dumped on him.
“I hear the boos,” Marmol told Jesse Rogers after the game. “I don’t take it a bad way. You have to enjoy. I’m not saying I have to enjoy that but I don’t have to worry about it. They pay money to see us and some player not doing his job, [they can boo].”
They can boo. But, yesterday, they shouldn’t have.
I know the responses. He’s paid to perform. He can buy a lot of Kleenex with his $9.8 million. I bought a ticket to see this crapshow, I’m allowed to boo them. Cry me a river.
Those are all beside the point.
No one should deny fans the right to boo. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that booing is never appropriate.
But, like with all things to which we have rights, there are measures of discretion. Booing a guy because he fails to hustle out a grounder that could have resulted in a baserunner? Absolutely. Boo away.
But booing a Cub during introductions at the home opener? Booing him more aggressively than Ryan freaking Braun? And then booing him again loudly when he gives up one hit to Braun?
I was reminded of the 2012 Cubs Convention when Alfonso Soriano was actually booed by fans in attendance during the pump-you-up, love-the-Cubs opening ceremonies. It was embarrassing.
Jesse Rogers collected responses from Marmol’s teammates – and manager Dale Sveum – about the booing, all of which were supportive of Marmol. James Russell’s response, in particular, stood out.
“You lose some respect for the fans,” Russell said of the booing at Marmol. “It’s your home park, they should be behind you no matter what. It’s not like he’s going out there trying to give up games. He’s out there busting his butt every day. Personally, it gets under my skin because that’s my teammate. I have his back no matter what. It kind of bugs you whenever you hear that. There’s no room for it.”
Russell is probably going to get heat in some quarters for saying that, but it certainly took gumption. In this instance, I have to agree with Russell. While I won’t tell you that you can’t boo poor performance, or even that it’s morally wrong for you to boo poor performance, I just don’t understand the upside. A guy can only do as well as he can do, and, unless he isn’t trying, booing won’t help. The front office knows the guy is struggling, so booing isn’t going to help them identify the problem, either.
In this instance, you’ve got a scuffling, demoted closer – one who’s been a Cub his entire career and has been, at times, overwhelmingly good – who’s appearing in middle relief at the home opener. And he’s greeted immediately with open disgust? Obviously I was calling for his removal from the closer spot earlier than some, but that doesn’t mean I’m angry at the guy. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to see him succeed. So why wouldn’t I cheer for him, instead of booing at him?