Their crimes were leaving their previous employers for new jobs with other teams and those that they left behind in the grandstands felt jilted, insulted, abused because John and Josh liked someone better.
To my way of thinking, booing in sports is 90 percent misguided. For the most part it’s a waste of energy because it accomplishes nothing. I’d say it is visceral, but I think when it comes to crowd situations that’s probably not quite true either. There’s probably a bit of follow-the-leader involved.
Farrell was the Blue Jays manager and he left to become the Boston Red Sox manager. I didn’t even know that Farrell was popular enough in Ontario to be booed for his departure. After all, he wasn’t coaching the Maple Leafs. Of course he got the best revenge (though I doubt he was thinking of it that way) when the Sox beat the Jays, 6-4, in the opener of their weekend series. He’ll probably put up with boos for a couple of days and by the time the Red Sox return for another series the fans won’t muster enough energy to boo him. That will be particularly true if Toronto is in first place as most predictors have them slated for the American League East Division this season.
This opening week journey for Hamilton is a little more intriguing. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim slugger opened in right field for his new team against the Cincinnati Reds, a team he once played for when he was a younger man. It was his first visit back since 2007 and when he was with the Reds he had not yet blossomed into a big star. Hamilton’s drug and alcohol addictions and his suspensions and comeback have been well-documented. But most of that didn’t affect Reds fans so he was pretty much greeted at Great American Ball Park as just another player.
Not so at in Arlington, Texas Friday. Hamilton made his reputation as a star with the Rangers, but he left for the Angels–the team’s American League West Division rival–for a $125 million deal in the off-season. His departure was viewed as a full-fledged betrayal and that’s why the fans let him have it. I’m not saying I agree with that approach, just that you can pinpoint the reason.
I’ve never been an advocate of booing players and oftentimes when boos ring out in a ballpark I don’t even know what they’re all about. Booing the umpire for a blown call is something I can understand, although home crowd bias determining what is a blown call frequently invalidates the effort. Once in a while an ump will mess up a big, important call that can be a game changer and fan recourse is booing.
Hamilton was a major hero in Texas, making five All-Star teams and winning an AL Most Valuable Player award. It stung fans that he couldn’t or wouldn’t accommodate the Rangers and they booed him when he was introduced in the Angels’ starting lineup and when he came to bat. They mock cheered him when he struck out.
“I’d lie to you if I said it didn’t bother me a little bit,” Hamilton said after Texas’ 3-2 win. “But it didn’t like overwhelm me. It’s what I expected.”
Most likely all three segments of that statement are accurate. Hamilton was being more honest than most players who deny hearing boos or say they don’t bother them at all. But I’m sure it was true that he expected some kind of negative reception. Texas fans will also likely keep it up all weekend and then may not bother booing again the rest of the season when the Angels come to town.
Right now Hamilton’s biggest problem isn’t what the Rangers fans think of him, but what the Angels fans think of him. Four games into the season he had recorded one hit in 16 official at-bats. It’s one thing to have your enemies boo you, but if he doesn’t heat up Hamilton might face his friends booing him. It’s time for the man to have a Josh Hamilton-type hitting day–a few hits here, a few home runs there. Which of course is also the best reply to boos.