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Yankees fans will probably boo Robinson Cano. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

Apr 29, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

Robinson Cano Robinson Cano

I used to have some strong opinions about when it’s OK to boo or not OK to boo. And I still think that some instances of booing are worse than others depending on the circumstances. But I’ve changed my mind about booing pretty substantially over the past couple of years and refuse to get all that worked up about it anymore.

Personally, I rarely if ever boo someone — or if I do, I do it somewhat ironically — but I’m mostly done caring if other fans boo someone. When you compare it to the intensely personal things about players and their character that some fans will say in comment threads, some sports writers will write in their columns or some talk radio guys will bark over the air, booing looks like a pretty minor act. It may be worth noting with amusement — I expect to continue to write amused “[Team's] fans booed [Person]” posts in the future — but seriously taking fans to task for booing or not booing someone seems kinda silly to me now.

Booing is not nearly as personal an act as it’s often portrayed as being in the sporting press. Look no further than the Robinson Cano/Jimmy Fallon bit from last night. Fans booed a cardboard cutout of Robinson Cano and then immediately changed their tune when the real Cano came out. It was pretty inspired, pretty funny and it gave us a bit of insight, I think, into the nature of booing. Maybe it’s not the most polite thing ever, but a given fan’s investment in booing is so fleeting and minor. I’d guess 90% of the people who do it at a ballpark do it because other people started doing it and group activities are fun. I’d also guess that the negative impulse to boo someone is gone before the guy in question has taken his first pitch. It’s just a thing you do at the ballpark sometimes. Like the chicken dance.

Which brings us to tonight’s Mariners-Yankees game. Cano is back in New York for the first time since signing with the Mariners, and the topic of whether or not Yankees fans should boo him is floating around on talk radio and on the web today. If I was a Yankees fan I’d probably not because, like I said, my baseline is generally not to boo and Cano didn’t do anything wrong or evil that would make me change my feelings about that.

But I expect he will be booed and I really don’t care. If it happens it’ll be a generalized “you don’t wear the same laundry” boo that runs about as deep as an Arizona creek. It won’t be based on real animus or a set of misguided ethics. It won’t be aimed at a person who is fragile or a stranger to big crowds and intense feeling. It’s Robinson Cano. I suspect he can handle it.

  1. jbriggs81 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    What the hell is ironic booing Craig?

    • zengreaser - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      Ironic (adjective) – 1. using words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning

      In short, booing when cheering is more appropriate.

  2. handsomedansome - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    He couldn’t handle the boos at the home run derby in Kansas City.

    • sportsdrenched - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      Indeed, The fans in Kansas City got called terrible people, puppy/kitten killers, and accused of tearing Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars for boooing Cano by the National Media but it’s going to be perfectly Ok for Yankee fans to do it.

  3. chip56 - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    For whatever it may be worth – I’ve been to tapings of shows like that before and usually a producer (or host) will tell the crowd off camera to boo or cheer on cue to make a sketch funnier, so it is entirely possible that the booing of the Cano cutout was staged.

    Cano is the first player since Andy Pettitte left to go play in Houston who left in the prime of his career to go play somewhere else. My guess is that Yankee fans will give him a standing ovation before his first at bat and then, depending on his production, will either continue to cheer him with less enthusiasm or give him a mixed response.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:53 AM

      I hope he goes 4-4 with 4HR in every game, and the Yanks win each by 10.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        That would be, like, a record or something.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM

        Stranger things have happened. And the statement might have been a bit hyperbolic. I felt the same way about Ibanez’s return over the weekend.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

        The first time Tino returned to the stadium, he hit two 2-R HR in the Saturday game but the Yankees won 13-4.

    • gatorprof - Apr 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Big difference. Andy left for family reasons. Cano left for $$$. This is new territory for the Yankees.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    The unfortunate truth of the new Yankee Stadium on a drizzly Tuesday night is that you would have to go to the indoor steakhouse or the field box lounge to find out what the “fans” think about anything at this game.

  5. ningenito78 - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    ‘Personally, I rarely if ever boo someone — or if I do, I do it somewhat ironically’

    If that doesn’t sum up Craig Calcaterra in one short sentence I don’t know what does.

  6. chunkala - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    First all, of course Fallon would have ex-Yankee Cano on his show since he’s a Red Sox fan.

    Let the fans boo or not, its their choice. But of course, the first amendment is out when Craig doesn’t agree with what’s being said, perfect liberal fit for NBC. Personally I think people look pretty stupid doing that stuff in public anyway.
    If Cano wants to derail his future HOF status let him do so. So far, the joke is on him as his numbers are down across the board, all the while playing in a much weaker division. I don’t think he’ll be in Seattle after the 2015 season anyway. I see him going to Boston after the Red Sox give up their #800 and #875 rated prospects to Seattle, which is usually the case when they make trades.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      Is he really a Sox fan? The guy was born and raised in Brooklyn. Or are you talking about that awful movie that ruined a great book?

      • nobody78 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        I believe Fallon has spent time as a Yankee fan, a Met fan, and a Red Sox fan.

        Fallon, I’d boo.

    • yankees218 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      He is not a Red Sox fan, he’s a Yankee fan.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        Aha! That just proves, uh, something!

        My team is the best! Everyone’s biased against my favorite team — ESPECIALLY those jerks in the mainstream media. And don’t get me started about that channel! And the one guy on that channel is the WORST!

    • nbjays - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Chunkala, I’m not sure what’s funnier, your thin-skinned conservative paranoia that views everything you don’t agree with as a liberal plot, or your thin-skinned Yankee fan paranoia that views everything you don’t like as an anti-Yankee plot. Either way, it’s hilarious.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        Sadly, I think there are more people like him than there are like us.

  7. pisano - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    He went for the money and the years on the contract, why should anyone hate on him for that. He told the Yankees and the media that there would be no hometown discount. This worked for both parties, he wanted the 10 year contract, and the Yankees aren’t giving those anymore, so it’s a win, win.

  8. trbmb - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    At 1 PM today, Mike Francesa, sports God, will summarize what is valid and what isn’t. Mike will make the final determination and everybody else will need to follow his conclusion. Mike is the smartest human on the planet. Just ask him.

  9. tedwmoore - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Of course (most) people would not boo him face-to-face: Booing is a way to communicate across distance. I boo umps for borderline calls, I boo opposing pitchers for throwing too often to first (though, like most dummies, I don’t boo my own team’s pitchers for doing the same), I boo my team’s players for failing to score a runner from third with fewer than three outs or for boneheaded defensive plays or for baserunning errors. None of this is necessary — the players know when they screwed up, and umps know that borderline calls will be unpopular — but it is fun, and, just like applauding and cheering, it is a way to give feedback at the stadium without being close to the field. It is not how polite adults conduct themselves in face-to-face interactions. It was a funny skit, but hardly informative, at least not about booing.

    • tedwmoore - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      I meant fewer than two outs.

  10. bronxbomber213 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    I won’t boo him I still love him and he still has the smoothest stroke from the left side! The only thing I got upset with was the fact that he went to Seattle. Had he gone to a contending team I wouldn’t have been as upset but when it’s 65 million more how can you blame a guy! I just hope he knows that 65 mil cost him a monument in center field in the Bronx!

    • 18thstreet - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      You know what? I would make that trade. ESPECIALLY if I didn’t grow up in the five boroughs dreaming of one day blah blah blah.

      It’s a business. It doesn’t always feel that way, because most businesses aren’t nearly this interesting or fun. But it’s a business.

      • bronxbomber213 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        oh yea it most def is a business and like I said I’m not mad at him just miss him on the squad and I see your point it’s not like he grew up with dreams of being a Yankee for life so fans can’t really be mad at him for taking 65 extra million

    • peymax1693 - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      I wouldn’t boo Cano either. The guy was a good Yankee.

      The only problem I had with Cano’s departure was his attempt to spin his decision to leave by claiming that he had no choice after the Yankees “disrespected him” by not offering more $.

      No shame in just saying that “while I would have loved remaining a Yankee, Seattle was offering me so much more $ that I owed it to my family not to turn it down.”

  11. joenash72 - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Because

  12. barrybondsisthealltimehomerunking - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    I’m sure they will boo him, just like they boo Ellsbury every time he comes to the plate because he also left for the money. Oh wait.

  13. johnnysoda - Apr 29, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    The difference between Cano and other free agents, at least for me, is that those guys left for teams that were considered contenders (i.e. Pujols to the Angels, Fielder to the Rangers).

    The Mariners, by contrast, have not won in forever, nor are they likely to start anytime soon. It was 100% about money, and it’s hard to respect a guy for that.

    • stex52 - Apr 29, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      Why? You wouldn’t change jobs for more money?

  14. Marty - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    I am glad Craig is here to guide us through these obstacles in baseball fandom. It doesn’t matter one way or the other.

  15. stackers1 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Soda – I think Seattle sold Cano a bill of goods that they were going to do more to get better. Robbie just heard the dollar amount & said, “yeah – I’ll take it”, but he’s all they can afford to improve. He didn’t think about that.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Let me start by saying that I have no idea what happened.

      But I’m guessing that Cano partly wanted to be out of New York for a few reasons. And realizing that there was no dream scenario (being a well-paid final piece to a rising team (say, the Nationals), he just opted for the team that offered the most money.

      Maybe Seattle lied to him. I’d expect nothing less. But Cano would have to be a blind fool not to notice that the Mariners won 71 games last year. If Cano has a huge ego, he could imagine that he’d be the difference between 71 wins last year and 81 wins this year. It’s a long way to 90 wins and the playoffs. Cano probably just signed there because they offered the most money.

  16. joenash72 - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Speaking of ironic, funny how fans of the Evil Empire are up in arms over the Mariners taking a page out of the Yankees book and paying more $$$ than any other team to entice a free agent to sign with us.

    The whole argument that Seattle hasn’t won or never will is pretty funny, too. Heard of the Seattle Seahawks?

    Listening to some of you Yankee fans we should just get rid of the Mariners, Rays, Padres, Astros, etc. since tose teams have not won a World Series yet. Apparently the Yankees are entitled to everything?

    • peymax1693 - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Nice straw man argument. Contrary to your claim, Yankee fans are not upset at Seattle; rather, it’s Cano they are upset about, and primarily because he used the lame cliche that he left because the Yankees disrespected him, when it was really because Seattle threw an inordinate amount of $ at him.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      Dude, maybe you should read the comments here before presuming what Yankee fans here think. Most of them are pretty level-headed. And this is a Red Sox fan saying that.

      Or just visit another site — one where people give a crap about the Seahawks and your inferiority complex. Seattle is awesome. I visited once, and I loved it. I loved your ballpark, I loved your fish, I loved the mountain, I loved lots of stuff about it. Here’s a tip: if people say bad things about Seattle, those people are idiots and deserve to be ignored. Try it.

    • bronxbomber213 - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:07 PM

      What effect does the Seahawks winning the SB have on Cano playing baseball for the mariners and them winning the WS? Not really sure why you would bring up the NFL to try to prove a point about the M’s…..

  17. 461deep - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Booing takes different paths. I don’t like you BOO you bum. Missed call. Get cheaters man, BOO.
    Pavlovian, Intentional walk. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
    Cano left for money Yankees balked at like Elsbury when Sox did likewise. I have always been a Yankee fan but am not comfortable when they or other rich teams sign 3-5 FA over a winter then crow at a winning streak. I know it is legal but if I was the Commissioner I’d work to limit top FA signings to 2 per team in a given year. Supposed to be a sport not survival of the richest. No rich teams do not always go all the way but they get many more chances than poor teams.

  18. stevem7 - Apr 29, 2014 at 4:53 PM

    I’ve generally found that newspaper columnists and media types are the last people on earth who should take a position on Booing. The fan, the one who spends his money to attend a particular event, is the rightful judge of how he chooses to exhibit his feelings. So if the fans at Yankee Stadium choose to boo Cano tonight that is their right as they have paid the price to do so. Just as Cano’s leaving was a business decision, the fan’s choice to express their displeasure is also a business decision.

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