While driving this evening, I was having my ears bled out by listening to WIP who always caters to the lowest common demoninator fan and justifying it by calling it passion. The host, whom I won't bother mentioning, was taking calls and defending the town for booing Jimmy Rollins. One guy called up and said that he booed Burrell relentlessly for the past 2 years (really?) but voted for him as an All-Star cause he finally is playing like he should, also booed Jimmy during all 4 At Bats and will continue to do so until Jimmy apologizes to [him] via the media.
Are you freakin kidding me?
There seems to be an obvious disconnect with the fans (and radio people) who advocate booing. On one hand, they say it should invigorate the player, showing him that he isn't playing up to snuff (and an argument was seriously made that it pushed the Phillies to the 80 WS). On the other hand, it was argued, that the players should have thick skin and not let it bother them to the point that they lash out in the media. Well, which is it? It appears that they want to have their cake and eat it too. The players SHOULD listen, but only if it makes them "play" harder. The most ridiculous comment was that the fans of this city just want to see effort. Um, excuse me? WTF? Seriously?
I could easily branch off onto a tanget talking about how pathetic the sports talk is in this city and how the hosts are all just a bunch of charicatures of themselves and cater to enraging people rather than actually being logical and reasonable about sports. However, I really am going to get to the crux of booing. What is the point of it and what is it REALLY supposed to do?
Sorry for all of you religious people here, but I am going to use a religious analogy here that I think is apt. The idea of booing is equivalent to hell. We can draw on the concept that a player doesn't want to get booed like a person doesn't want to piss off the almighty lord and end up visiting Satan in the hot underworld. Thus, the deterent is fear. Fear of booing is equivalent to the fear of god. I believe one of the lost gospels commented on playing hard, running into walls and taking the extra base as the means to a happy afterlife (by happy afterlife, I mean being able to eat at Chickie's and Petes without some drunk asshole calling your mom a whore). So, to sum up, fear of getting booed should prompt players to play better like the fear of god should keep us from stealing, or killing, or molesting small animals.
But, does the means justify the ends? Are we doing it for the right reason? Shouldn't we not steal or murder because it is something we don't want done to us rather than because it would piss god off? Likewise, shouldn't a player play to a high level because it is expected (and will rake in the cash) rather than to avoid the boos? I mean, I am not discrediting the fan (or god's) role in this, but rather, what should true motivation be? The problem is that too much justification is made of booing; they are professionals; they make a ton of money; they deserve it; we deserve a winner. Blah, blah, blah.
Is this how you would motivate your child? Little Stevie brings home a test with a grade of a C-. Do you then tell Stevie that he sucks. That he isn't worth the money you put in for him. That he shouldn't be in the family and you are going to bring in another kid to take his spot?
But they aren't children? They are professionals at the workplace?
Is this how you want to be motivated at work? You miss an email telling you that a deadline was at 4pm and it is already 5pm. Your boss comes over and then tells you how much better Anderson is than you. That he should have given Anderson the report to work on or that you suck and you can never do anything right. That they are now looking for a replacement for you.
Sports have been ingrained into our society that we take it very personally. I tend to think that it is an outlet for people who need to vent other frustrations. Booing Burrell is really telling your wife you are pissed off at her for not performing oral activities the night before. Telling Rollins he is a prima dona is really you telling the mechanic that $1200 bucks for a new transmission is ridiculous and that you are going to shove that wrench up his ass.
However, one of traits that separates humans from animals is the ability for us to manage our emotions. Kick a dog and he gets pissed and bites you. Stick a needle in a lion's eye and he'll likely maul you. Tell an elephant he is fat and he'll sit on you.
Humans are a step up from that. We have the ability to determine where the frustration comes from. Pat Burrell strikes out with the bases loaded and the Phils down by a run, we boo. But what are we booing? Are we mad at Pat? Maybe, but more likely frustrated at him. We are really mad at the situation. The possibility of tying the game or taking the lead was there and due to the statistical odds showing their face, we didn't do it. So, we boo and call Pat a loser or something else I don't want to put here.
But in reality, we are placing blame on those who really don't deserve it. Pat tried to hit the ball. He wanted to hit the ball. He put every effort in and he failed. Failure is a part of sports. It is the failure part we are booing and it reality, it is a silly concept. Boo! Screw you statistical odds! Eff you regression to the mean! I hope you die, standard deviation! All we get out of this is a bunch of bad vibes and unhappy players.
So, when you get all worked up and ready to boo Jimmy for correctly stating that Philly fans suck (as evidenced by the home winning percentage differential being the worst in MLB), think about what you are actually booing. You are booing a rich dude, who gets paid to play a sport in a town that he has no real connection to because you paid money to watch a sport being played that has no real impact on your life or anything that goes on in the world around you. Maybe you should be booing yourself for putting so much emotion and money into something that is likely to let you down and has no tangible effect on your life. Or better yet, instead of booing, just relax, shrug it off and say, "Go get next time, pal!" I don't know if I have ever heard that at one of the millions of game I have been to, but I am sure Jimmy or Pat or Ryan would appreciate it. And I am sure your blood pressure would appreciate it too.