Being Critical and the American Way of Life
Frequent readers of Marc Lancaster's blog will have seen this Interesting Observation:
MILWAUKEE -- A player mentioned to me today that the verbal abuse from fans in Cincinnati this year, when it occurs, seems even harsher than last season. You'll recall where the Reds were around this time last season -- about 20 games out.
Not to get into the discussion about the state of Cincinnati baseball fans again, but I do find it interesting that so few seem to be pleased with what has occurred this year. And obviously you need look no further than many of the comments on this blog for evidence.
In the comments, readers go on to express every view from “Back in my day, we'd never dream of booing our own team” to “If they don't want me to boo, they should stop sucking.”
I think too much of a deal is made out of booing. Even out of swearing, though I realize some people take that stuff very seriously. It's just a word (or, in the case of booing, a syllable). It can hurt your feelings if you let it, but it doesn't actully hurt you.
It's a dumb idea that fans should be happy with the team just because they are better than last year. It's not just dumb: it's unAmerican.
Did our forefathers look at the first draft of the Constitution and say, “it's not perfect, but it's better than what we had in England, so let's shut up about it already”? In fact, I don't know whether they did that. Like many Americans, I'm not all that well versed in history.
But in my uninformed vision of the scene, my forefathers wouldn't settle for anything less than perfection. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ty Cobb, and Mark Twain, among others, argued the finer points of their new government in each other's faces, often resorting to personal attacks and occasionally sissy fighting, until they'd drafted the perfect document on papyrus or perhaps cuneform. They did this into the wee hours, round the campfire and before an audience of American Indians who taught them many valuable things, such as how to make needles out of buffalo bones and how to smoke the peace pipe.
The point being that loudly complaining about anything we see as less-than-perfect is how we strive to make things perfect. If the alternative to fans booing is fans not caring enough to say anything, or worse, not caring enough to even notice anything is wrong (see: Wrigley Field), then I'll take the booing.
The players will just have to learn to take it as evidence that the fans care. Or deal with the emotional pain of being booed. Or just stop listening. They are only words, after all.