There 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.