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Why all of you horrible savages are wrong for booing ballplayers

Jan 31, 2012, 6:50 AM EDT

Ralph Branca

There are two areas in baseball — I think just two, but I’m sure someone will remind me if I’m missing any — in which I will freely own up to being an impossible annoying self-righteous prig:  beanball wars, as we discussed yesterday, and booing ballplayers.

My thing about beanball wars is pretty defensible I think, as guys really can get hurt. I don’t care what you say — even if you’re being rational and otherwise persuasive about it when you take issue with me — I’m never going to abide intentionally throwing a baseball at someone.

The booing thing: eh, I realize I’m out-of-step with most sports fans (with “most” meaning “virtually all”).  I just hate booing. I find it to be unseemly and kind of rude. I never boo anyone sincerely (I’ve ironically booed people before, not that it would make a difference to the target). I prefer to be all passive-aggressive about it and simmer with silence and resentment. Maybe it’s just a repressed Midwesterner thing. It’s our way.

Maybe if someone were truly villainous I’d boo them — like if a player did something decidedly evil in a game but somehow avoided being ejected — but I can’t ever feature myself booing my own team’s player simply because he made a mistake or was slumping. Or another team’s player because he played well against my team. Or any player because of some lame contract dispute years and years ago, a minor hubbub or scandal or what have you.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because the subject of booing was mentioned at a charity event featuring Bobby Valentine last night.  For those who don’t know, Valentine’s father-in-law is legendary Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Ralph Branca.  Branca, as I hope you do know, served up the pitch that became Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” that catapulted the Giants into the 1951 World Series over Branca’s Dodgers.

A goat that cost the Dodgers the pennant? In Brooklyn of all places? Surely that man was booed until Hell wouldn’t have it, right? Wrong! Branca was at the event and spoke thusly:

In a discussion about big markets and small markets and how players respond to being booed, Branca took the microphone and reminded the crowd that he knew a little bit about the topic. Branca gave up one of the most famous homers in baseball history, Bobby Thomson’s three-run shot that gave the New York Giants the 1951 NL pennant over the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“Me get booed? Never,” Branca told a few hundred people at Fenway Park on Monday night. “I did lose a few [fans]”

I’m never gonna convince anyone that booing is low-rent. And the next time I write a head-shaking post about fans who, in my view, unjustifiably boo a player, I am absolutely certain you will all call me out for being the impossible and annoying self-righteous prig that I am on this topic.

But do your worst. Boo me, even. I don’t care. If people in Brooklyn in 1952 weren’t booing Ralph Branca, no one deserves to get booed, ever.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to retire to my fainting couch. I feel a spell of the vapors coming on.

UPDATE:  This man is so, so right. That’s just one guy’s opinion.

  1. xxakshunxx - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:11 AM


  2. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I see booing as the nuclear option. I rarely boo unless I am in Philadelphia where booing is mandatory to fit in with the crowd (hey, they have been known to boo the Easter Bunny). There is a saying baseball that as long as you buy the seat and come to the game, you have the right to boo.

  3. dcfan4life - Jan 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Booing an umpire, ref, or official makes sense due to the potential effect on a game. Booing a player makes sense if your booing for the right reasons. I am not going to name a steriod user but instead reference players like Milton Bradley, John Lackey, and A.J. Burnett. These players pushed the limits for big contracts and underperformed them quite badly. They then voice there displeasure with the fan support. Your getting millions upon millions and you stink and the fans cant boo you. You need to understand its your fault. And to everyone here that says booing gets into a players head, well thats just dumb. A player has 60 thousand fans yelling one way or another nearly every game of the season and if they cant handle whats being said and the boos then they never should have made it that far. Thats what being a pro athlete is. And booing is the right of any fan when its justified. I mean if a player goes 3 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBIs but struck out looking with the bases loaded to lose a game, well then only Philly fans would boo him, and they do, all the time, always, for the wrong reasons. Cubs fans boo for the right reasons. 100 years is a long time and when you pay for talent as they tried and get that result, well, id boo too.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    “I mean if a player goes 3 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBIs but struck out looking with the bases loaded to lose a game, well then only Philly fans would boo him, and they do, all the time, always, for the wrong reasons.”

    Typical idiot from around the country who has no clue what the F he or she is talking about when it comes to Philly fans. Philly fans are the most intelligent and passionate fans in the country. We don’t settle for anything less than a championship. Period. For example, all the morons in the national media who said “Oh, you guys don’t know what you have in Donovan McNabb. You’ll see when he leaves…” Oh really? He left, and McNabb sucked while Vick won the division his first year there. And now…well, now McNabb is out of the league. LOL. Same thing is happening with Andy Reid. All the national morons can say is “He’s a great coach…stupid Philly fans don’t know what they have until he is gone” And when he again doesn’t win a Super Bowl in 2012 and is gone…when they win in 2013 with a new coach, will they give us credit? Nope.

    Yeah, Philly has it’s share of obnoxious fans. But so does every single city in America. The only difference is the lazy idiots in the media and fans around the country just like to point out the Philly fans behavior without pointing to people getting killed, maimed and beaten up in cities like Chicago, LA and Detroit. Shit, when Detroit and LA won titles there was rioting and mass chaos. In Philly, we turned over a couple planters and broke a window or two. But we celebrated the shit out of the Phillies and 2008 and there’s a group of 25 guys who will never have to buy a meal in Center City again. Even Matt Stairs is still beloved.

    See, what people fail to understand is that, when you get as high as we do in Philly for winning, you have to expect an opposite reaction to our lows. Nobody celebrates victory like a Philly fan. NOBODY. But by the same token, NOBODY kills their teams for failing like a Philly fan. NOBODY.

    • kalinedrive - Jan 31, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      Nobody pats themselves on the back as “the most intelligent and passionate fans in the country” as frequently, or with less reason, than Philly fans. NOBODY.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        It’s all a part of being put down by the rest of the country sir. When you get as much of the unfair treatment we get, you can only take so much and you have to go on the defensive. And when I read the moronic statement of the OP I had to comment. Sorry if I offended you.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 31, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        And when I write OP I mean dcfan4life…I don’t know why my comment didn’t show up under his/hers but oh well. Thanks for reading kalinedrive.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Jan 31, 2012 at 3:55 PM

        Um, actually, you might want to check on what the players have said about Phils fans…mostly high praise, as I recall.

        The constant bashing of Philly fans is old, tired and lazy.

      • Gonzo - Jan 31, 2012 at 4:58 PM

        Don’t be an apologist, Chris. Philly fans are so very angry, rude and obnoxious.

  5. metalhead65 - Jan 31, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    I am surprised you saber metric guys do not have a stat on how players perform when they are booed and how often they are booed. we need to see how this affects their performance so we as fans know who to boo and when to boo them.

  6. stlouis1baseball - Jan 31, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I boo Alfonso Soriano on a regular basis. The guy just grates on my nerves.
    Could be the gay little hop he does everytime he catches a pop fly. I don’t know.
    But for whatever reason (other than playing for the Cubs of course)…he just gets on my nerves.

  7. Gonzo - Jan 31, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Philly fans get their panties in a bunch whenever someone brings up throwing snowballs at Santa or cheering Michael Irvin. “Let it go, already!”, they say. Yet the fans never pass up a chance to jeer JD Drew and Scott Rolen when they return to town.

  8. schmedley69 - Jan 31, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Booing is a form of expression. It’s an outlet for fans to show their displeasure for a player or team’s performance. Not all that different from a blog post that criticizes the performance of a player or team.

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