So, since I live in Philadelphia, own both a computer and television, and follow the Phillies very carefully, I am painfully aware of Mr. Rollins and his front-running commentary. I was trying to avoid the topic, but its literally the talk of the town, especially because everybody was super curious about what would happen when Rollins came back to Philly. Well, tonight before his first at-bat, he was booed, and he really heard it after grounding into a double play. How did we get here, exactly? When did it get to the point that the reigning MVP started getting booed in his own stadium? Let’s take a trip back in time.
Looking and listening over this, I think Jimmy used the phrase poorly. I think he was implying that the fans love a player when he’s hitting well and hate on him when he’s struggling, and not that they’ll only support the team when they’re winning. Clearly, in Philadelphia, that’s not the case. I think he makes it obvious when, after claiming St. Louis is far more supportive of their players even during their struggles, he is asked about his own hometown, Oakland. Jimmy comments that “they just don’t show up,” implying that Oakland’s fans aren’t even around to heckle their players. See, he didn’t mean we weren’t there supporting the team, he just wants us to be nicer to the players who are struggling. (Editor’s note: I can’t believe this stupid scenario has gotten to the point where people are honestly analyzing this in such depth).
Listen, Philly fans: Jimmy shouldn’t have said what he said. He misused the phrase, and he violated a very basic rule in fan/athlete relations in Philly – don’t question the fans loyalty, or say anything that could be construed as such. (Editor’s note: How psyched do you think Ryan Howard was when J-Roll picked up the question?). That being said, the implication of Jimmy’s statement was true – we are excessively harsh on our athletes. Don’t you think it was fitting he said this while sitting next to Howard, who was berated by boo birds early in the season? (Editor’s note: Gotta say though, great unintentional timing by Jimmy – he stole some of the scrutiny from the Phillies West Coast disaster). Listen, I know these guys are professionals, I understand that they get paid millions of dollars to drown this crap out. ‘These are the rigors of your job, so find a way to focus through the shit. But honestly, people: it’s one thing to boo a guy when he makes a bonehead play or swings at a terrible pitch, but its quite another to boo a guy who is struggling every single time they don’t produce. Baseball is a game of failure, a game of mechanical adjustments and experiments and of streaks. Sometimes, its alright to give these guys a bit of slack.
Now, I’m not saying never boo. Stay passionate, get upset, cheer and groan and demand the best from your athletes – we shouldn’t be expected to pay for an underachieving product. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be a bit more selective with our negativity, and it also doesn’t mean, Mr. Rollins, that you should say something so obviously inflammatory. You know better. Now go rally your troops and don’t give us a reason to boo – contrary to popular belief, we’d much rather cheer.