Relationship Between Fans and Players/Coaches

I never really understood the point of sports ‘fans’ cursing out players, coaches and refs while a game is going on, never mind the fact that people do it on the streets as well. There’s an excellent anecdote in The Globe and Mail today about Leafs’ manager Ron Wilson and his interaction with a fan last fall while he walked the streets of downtown Toronto.

One day last fall, Ron Wilson is walking through the underground labyrinth of tunnels that connect all of the major points in the city’s downtown when his cellphone rings. On the line is Scott Gordon, his assistant coach with the U.S. Olympic hockey team, and they begin talking about issues surrounding the coming Vancouver Whistler Games.
A shortish fellow in standard business attire walks by, sees a familiar face, and does a bit of a double-take. Then he walks up to Wilson, who is still talking, and hollers the following directly into his ear.
“You’re the worst [expletive] coach I’ve ever seen. You’re a [expletive] idiot.”
Then the man in the suit walks away, leaving Wilson standing there, with Gordon laughing on the other end of the line.

It doesn’t end there. Anyone who knows the way Wilson relishes the cut and thrust, understands that he likes to get the last word, can imagine what comes next.

He sprints through the tunnel – his antagonist has a 50-metre lead, but he quickly catches up – and stops him dead in his tracks.

“You said something back there. Now say it to my face.”

His critic is momentarily taken aback, but eventually summons his courage and repeats his critique, complete with f-bombs.

“How can you do that?” Wilson says. “I could have been talking to my wife, or my granddaughter. What do you do for a living? Do people come up to you at work and swear at you?

“You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to follow you all the way home and call you an idiot.”

Wilson does just that, or at least he does until the guy finally escapes into the subway. Point made. Perhaps.

I agree with the fact that the fans (for the most part) have paid for the tickets themselves and have a right to say what they want but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. Personally, when I am at a game and I tend to disagree with a call or a play, I’ll let my frustration known but in a general direction and never personally directed at anyone (I don’t think I’ve booed A-Rod or even Vince Carter). Just because they may be selfish jerks, isn’t enough justification in my book to go and insult them while they try to do what they are paid for. As Ron Wilson brilliantly tells in the article above, how you would react if someone came to your workplace and started yelling in disagreement every time you made the slightest mistake.

What does all that booing accomplish in the end anyways? I would think these ‘professional’ players become nearly numb to the booing or even cheering to some extent and should be able to tune that out during the course of a game or season. Certainly pressure gets to some players but that’s all mental and greatest players have no issue overcoming that. On top of that, you take these knowledgeable but ultimately very unclassy fans from all over the place, (New York or Philly generally get the most blame) where they know who the wife or children of certain ballplayers are and throw their hate, vulgarities or on the rare occasion, even physical items.

One final note, how messed up of a world do we live in where Michael Vick is still getting all this hate after serving 18 months in jail for doing what he did to animals while Ben Roethlisberger and others get away with a slap on the wrist for doing despicable things to other HUMAN BEINGS. Disgusting. You might as well give him a job with the TSA on his off days.

How Should We Judge A-Rod’s Record?

As Alex Rodriguez became the youngest baseball player to reach home run number 600 in the history of the game, it is important to note the different transformations the game has gone (for good or for worse). Throughout all that however, medical advancements have been made, players have started training much more intensively and took better care of their bodies along with the addition of performance enhancement.

Should baseball strike out all pitching records if the pitcher involved had gotten Tommy John’s surgery? Certainly that wasn’t available back in the early- and mid-1900’s so that’s got to be a competitive advantage. With all the video accessories available to help teams scout and prepare for their opponent was never available in the early days of baseball, why isn’t that a competitive advantage that wasn’t available to other players/teams of the early years?

To me the record books are very clear, Hank Aaron held the all-time home run record for 30+ years but records are only kept because someone someday will come along and break it. Barry Bonds did that and he is without a doubt, the all time leader. A-Rod hitting his 600th today became the youngest all time to reach that mark and even though Babe Ruth did it in far less at bats (something around 2,000 less ABs) it does not mean he is the fastest, just the one with least at bats. It doesn’t entitle him to some record because he simply just did not hit enough home runs and that is all that needs to count for an all-time king.

One day A-Rod will go on to beat Bonds’ record and will eventually become the all-time leader but there is no legitimate reason to deny him the record. He tested positive in an era where testing wasn’t mandatory and there was no punishment for using it when he did. You can claim that he may have used it afterward (and he might have) but he never tested positive again so that’s what you go on. For all the allegations Bonds faced, he never tested positive on a test and he certainly never got any benefit of the doubt from the media who loved to hate him.

There is no reason for an asterisk because this is the era we are in and there is no way to distinguish who did and didn’t take enhancements. If you want to get completely ridiculous, Baseball can decide to remove every single statistic of everyone who played in this era but then where do you decide when the era started? What about players who were already playing before the ‘era’ started? When does the ‘era’ end and will we even know it ended? There is no realistic way of determining who to remove and who to keep and who’s to say there weren’t ‘cheaters’ well before this era?

You can start debating who achieved what record in how many games and that argument will never end but as the game evolves, the only thing that remains the same is how the game is played – 9 innings, 2 teams, 1 winner. So in whatever manner the record is achieved, using whatever form of medicine or technology, the record should stand because there is no uniform way to judge one era against another. The ones who come afterward will always have the advantage due to scientific and natural advancements made in everyday life and that is something all baseball purists or traditionalists will one day have to accept that.

Is A-Rod Still Hall of Fame Worthy?

After Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking banned performance enhancing substances for at least three years in his very successful career, the question on everyone’s mind seems to be whether A-Rod should be admitted into baseball’s Hall of Fame?

I think it’s probably safe to assume the decision to induct “tainted” players will be well decided before Alex retires from the game. I don’t think he is going to be the measuring stick for Cooperstown because he still has another 10-15 years left before he would even be eligible if he plays out his current contract. That could probably work out in his favor because if he finishes the rest of his career “clean” it could certainly go a long way to cleaning up the mess he tried to hide for far too long.

I think that’s an advantage that he has on the likes of Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that he still has a significant chunk of his career ahead of him and allow people to forget or possibly move on. I think it’s quite naive to assume people will easily move on but I think they are more likely to forgive if the athlete seems sincere and are willing to change their ways.

Another aspect to the hall of fame inductions is what happens if a player who slips through without ever being suspected of doping is outed afterwards as a steroids user? Surely you can’t revoke his induction but once you allow one player who has supposedly shamed the game, you have to allow them all.

It is a complicated issue that is not going away anytime soon because the scientists will always be several steps ahead of any test that the league and union agrees to but that is no way to go about running a league. Someone needs to come up with a sensible solution and someone needs to do it rather quickly.

With his press conference with the media scheduled for this week, one has to wonder how the greater player to play the game will be perceived? Andy Pettitte got off relatively easy after he came out and “honestly” answered everything the media threw at him. People were a little less but still forgiving nonetheless on Jason Giambi who apologized but wouldn’t say what he was apologizing for.

I think the start of Alex’s apology in an interview with ESPN was a great start but the moment he started to attack the reporter who broke the story is when he started to sound bitter and hurt any chance he had of looking sincere in his apology. He gets one and only one mulligan with this massive press conference the Yankees’ are holding for him at the start of spring training. If he completely tanks this one, the hole he digs will only get deeper from here, while on the other hand if he nails the grilling session he can make himself look a little bit more “respectable”.  

(I guess this wasn’t bad for a full length post that was written through mobile means).