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The boos and the big contract never bothered Alfonso Soriano

May 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

They don’t boo nobodies.

That’s what Alfonso Soriano once told Tony Campana, who used that line after talking so much trash and getting eliminated from Dale Sveum’s 2012 bunting tournament.

It summed up Soriano’s swagger, the way he interacted with teammates, walking around the clubhouse saying, “Another day in The Show, babe.”

Soriano admitted it was weird playing right field for the New York Yankees at Wrigley Field – as the highest-paid player and biggest name the Cubs have on their books this season. He got polite applause during his first at-bat, and some boos in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss, as the crowd of 38,753 had thinned out on a rainy night.

Soriano became the symbol of “Win One for The Tower” when he signed a $136 million megadeal after a last-place finish in 2006. The next time the Cubs go for it – maybe sometime before 2020 – they better hope that player checks as many boxes as Soriano.

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“When I played here, I think the fans focused on the contract and not the player,” Soriano said, surrounded by reporters in the visiting dugout. “I just play every day, with pain in my knee, and try to make the team better. They don’t realize because they don’t see that.

“They see the contract. They don’t see who I am, how I play. It’s a little different now. But the most important thing is the players, the coaches, the front office, they know how hard I work to get better.”

Soriano had already done one media session in a cramped corner of the visiting clubhouse. Ichiro Suzuki walked into the middle of that one, waiting to get to his locker, sunglasses perched on the top of his head and a green tote bag slung over his shoulder.

The stars blend in with the Yankees, a franchise that can absorb decline years, import new free agents and keep extending that window to contend. It slammed shut for the Cubs after winning two division titles during Soriano’s first two seasons on the North Side – and forming the leveraged partnership between Sam Zell’s Tribune Co. and the Ricketts family that turned this into a small-market team.

“When the team’s doing bad, and you’re the face of the team, for any reason they start booing. I know that,” Soriano said.

[ALSO: Girardi loves stability of Yankees]

After approving the trade to New York last July, his old teammates erupted when they watched Soriano hit his first home run at the new Yankee Stadium. All the way across the country, they yelled at the TV and cheered inside the visiting clubhouse at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

Jeff Samardzija – now the longest-tenured player in a Cubs uniform – once called Soriano “the epitome of bravado and machismo.”

Cubs reliever James Russell remembered the time Randy Wells asked Soriano if he had change for a hundred. Soriano responded: “Hundreds are change, babe.”

“He’s one of the cooler personalities you’ll meet in baseball,” Russell said. “It was just a pleasure to play with him. I wish we could have kept him around a little longer. He’s a good veteran leader to have in the clubhouse and on the field. I wish nothing but the best for him. I’m happy to see him back where he started.

“He has a fun way of going about things and it was cool to be around. It kind of opens your eyes to the big-league lifestyle and what you could make out of this game. And once you get there, how to act and kind of carry yourself.

[MORE: Yankees get a look at Hammel, Samardzija before trade season]

“He’d get his boos in Wrigley. I don’t see how you can boo a guy like that, but a lot of people don’t know him the way that a lot of the guys in the locker room know him.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi already knew the scouting report: “Very professional. Loved in the clubhouse. Comes to play every day. Gives you everything he’s got. I’ve never met a person who’s said a bad thing about Alfonso Soriano.”

Soriano drives fancy cars, wears flashy jewelry and enjoys flipping his bat and hopping out of the batter’s box. But he’s also a grinder, willing himself to play almost 2,000 games in the big leagues and hit more than 400 career home runs. He reinvented himself as a pretty good outfielder and says he feels like he could play maybe two more years.

After going 0-for-4 on Tuesday night, Soriano will be back at Wrigley Field on Wednesday morning.

“I wish they can win soon, because it’s a great city, good ballpark, good fans. They need it,” Soriano said. “That’s what I signed up for – to win here – because it’s a great organization and great fans. It didn’t happen. But I hope in the future they have the opportunity to win.”

  1. hoopmatch - May 21, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Cubs fans expectations were unrealistically high when Fonzie was signed (the marquis free agent that year), and that led to greater vituperation when less-than-stellar performance ensued. They should have booed former general manager Jim Hendry and Cubs ownership for trying to palliate them with a top free agent in lieu of instituting a serious program for future and continued success.

    • mattinglyschmidt - May 21, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      A valliant effort to bring up this comment section’s erudition!

      • nelsonsaint - May 21, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        marquee, unless you’re talking about jason.

        so much for erudition.

      • Francisco (FC) - May 21, 2014 at 1:59 PM

        That’s why he called it a valiant effort.

  2. gbart22 - May 21, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    The headline is silly as no one would mind a big contract.

  3. clydeserra - May 21, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    I don’t get these cross posts. Not to get meta, but these are more journalistic “articles” than blog posts. they don’t seem to fit. Also, they kinda mess up my scrolling through posts opn my phone, in that the phone only loads x number of posts and when I skip past theses it takes longer to load the older posts. Sice i usually and sitting in a data deficient public room while I am reading on my phone I stop reading right there and move on to twitter. (just a note for the harvesting eyeballs marketing people)

    Anyway to the thumbs downers, yes I know I don’t have to read them. I don’t. (I did read the first and was confused). Didn’t read this one. Since I have been reading Craig since shysterball days, I thought I would voice my displeasure with these posts.

    • rje49 - May 21, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      You could try just using your phone for, like, talking to people…
      Actually, when phones get too big for a pocket, they will be of better use for all those other things. For now, a real computer is best.

      • clydeserra - May 21, 2014 at 8:38 PM

        you tend to be kicked out of court while talking on your mobile phone.

      • rje49 - May 21, 2014 at 9:05 PM

        If I were in court, I’d shut the thing down. Does that sound unreasonable?

    • jwbiii - May 21, 2014 at 10:02 PM

      HBT is owned by NBC, NBC is owned by Comcast. By including NBC and Comcast articles, they are just integrating.

      • clydeserra - May 22, 2014 at 12:43 AM

        oh, I know. I get that.
        But I don’t go to the regional Comcast sites because I don’t desire that info. If I read a compiler, like the bloggers here, and it piques my interest, I will read it.

        I do read the regional people for my team, the CSN Bay Area insider Joe Stiglich., because I care about that stuff for my team.

        My point was, it is causing me, and likely people like me, to look at less here, rather than more.

  4. tfilarski - May 21, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Soriano was great and as a Cubs fan I thoroughly enjoyed his tenure here. His offensive production continued throughout his first years on the north side aside from one major drop off; stolen bases.

    The biggest glaring stat that any fan should be really disappointed in and the reason to be upset was his playoff production. I believe he had 2 (TWO!) hits in 6 play off games

  5. 950003cups - May 21, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    He came to NY and lit it up last year instantly. Not sure why he had trouble in Chicago. Maybe he had some issues with his swing that needed a good coach like Kevin Long to sort out.

    • dcarroll73 - May 21, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      Hey, 950003, thanks for the great laugh. I had a hard day, and this sort of amusing comment as just what I needed. You forgot your sarcasm font warning which many need (I do hope that was your intent since Kevin Long’s main strength is creating dead-pull, strike-out machines.)

    • rje49 - May 21, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      Soriano was already hitting well just before coming to NY. Overall, he hit .254 for the Cubs, then .256 for NY. Wow.

  6. thomas844 - May 21, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    The boos never bothered me, anyway.

  7. stew48 - May 22, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    I have long believed that people who knew and understood words like vituperation, palliate and erudite could not be genuine Cubs, or even baseball fans. Thanks for the evidence.

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