If you ask any outsider booing is just in the DNA of any Philadelphia sports phan. It’s what we do. I mean we freakin’ booed Santa Claus. It was over 40 years ago, get over it! The thing is we don’t tolerate mediocrity from our teams. Is that really all that bad? I think it has to do with passion more than anything else. If you talk to any diehard Philadelphian the passion they express for their teams is like nothing else. I think the bad perception comes from the few idiots who feed off of negadelphiativity (yea that’s a word).
I can remember sitting behind these crazies at an Eagles game in 2008 vs. the Falcons who hated Donovan McNabb and couldn’t stop booing or bashing Five for the entire first half. He went on to light the Falcons up and the haters behind me left with nothing to say. It is “fans” like those guys who find anything they can to express displeasure. Fans like that who booed Cole Hamels in April during his first start of the season. It is most likely as Cliff Lee said, alcohol induced. I don’t care what kind of game Hollywood Hamels pitched on that cold Tuesday night but he definitely didn’t deserve to be booed. How quickly we forget 2008.
Hamels struggled in his first start of the season. A 6-run third inning, where the lowly Muts sent 11 batters to the plate, mailed the game in for our fourth Ace. His attempt to follow in the footsteps of successful starts by the first three Aces resulted in one of the worst starts in Hamels career. Hamels was booed off the field after surrendering 6 runs in 2 2/3 innings.
“It’s frustrating,” said Hamels. “You don’t want to have a game like that to start the season.”
I can understand the scenario. The hated New York Mets are in town, its bitter cold and Cole just gave up six runs in one inning! I mean who are these schlubs who are driving in runs? Brad Emaus? Ike Davis? Chris Young? The pitcher?! Maybe, just maybe, if it was a warm spring day where the cool breeze was blowing through Citizens Bank Park the boos may have been less intensified. Still, I think the boos were unwarranted, undeserved. I understand the amount of weight that 2011 holds but come on people it’s April! And don’t forget that GQ is watching our every move waiting for us to slip up, we must be on our best behavior. They may have to re-release their Top 10 Worst Fans list to add the Hamels incident.
It didn’t take long for King Cole to quiet the haters. On Sunday, Hamels shut down the Atlanta Braves with a magnificent Ace-esque outing. Hamels gave up four hits with one walk and eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings. Thus proving the maturity and growth of a young man who has seen his shares of ups and downs in a Phillies uniform. Hamels retired the first 10 batters he faced and seemed to be throwing every pitch across the plate for a strike. Rebounding in the fashion he did that quickly after a rough first start is a very positive sign. Phinally, all was well in the city of Brotherly Love.
Cole provided the shutdown pitching the Phillies needed and Victorino provided the bat as he sparked the Phillies to a 3-0 win in Atlanta. The win on Sunday gave the Phillies two out of three from the Braves and the series win. Dating back to last season the Phillies have won five straight series and 15 out of their last 16. Booing is NOT in order. Cole handled the negativity with class.
"I've been booed many times," he said. "It's part of the game. I'm not trying to go out and lose a ballgame. I'll never try to do that. Sometimes you just aren't able to have things go well and have things go right. You learn from it, and you try to get better. If you get that response, it's the understanding that people know that you're good and they expect you to do well.
Now this is not a knock on booing because quite frankly I love to boo. My brother Scottie is a booing expert. I swear he pierces my ear drum at games every time his loud, boisterous boo echoes through the park. He’s booing before I even know what he’s booing about. Let’s just say he is an expert booer. But he does it with class. He does not and will not boo our own, unless it’s absolutely warranted. I.e. Adam Eaton, David Herndon or Jack “Trash” Taschner. And maybe even alligator arms Todd Pinkston.
Now the enemy deserves to be booed, you’re in OUR house. There is nothing like a Sunday afternoon ballgame in section 145 just giving it to the opposing team’s left fielder. That is sports; it is a part of being a fan. But respect YOUR team. There are definitely appropriate times to let your team have it. I know the frustration of last year’s offensive slump definitely deemed appropriate. But like I said before it’s April, and we all know that Hamels has never been one to get off to a hot start. So let’s cut Hollywood some slack, eh?
While we are on the topic of booing it brings up our good ol’ buddy Jayson Werth. The Phillies head to Washington tomorrow to face the beard that was. The man who stole our hearts, or our ladies hearts, and in the off-season took the money to go play for the Nats. It is definitely going to be weird to see #28 in a Nationals uniform. While Werth may be still filled with bitterness, the boys of South Philly have moved on quite successfully. For an offense that baseball minds thought would struggle without Werth and without an injured Chase Utley, the Phillies have silenced those critics. Right fielder Ben Francisco has been nothing short of impressive replacing our ex-right fielder.
So what do we do with a man who gave us a good run, who played his butt off for our city. He was a part of something that can never be touched or tarnished. Championships in Philly are life-savers, bucket list breakers, stuff of legend. If you are lucky enough as a player to be a part of one your legacy in Philly is cemented. The breakup hasn’t gone smooth and that only breeds more dissension. All in all Werth deserves our respect for what he gave us and it stops at that. Once the game starts the Brotherly Love is lost and let the boos fly.
Nats Park is no doubt going to be Philly South on Tuesday night. Do me a favor though, if Big Joe B struggles again go easy on him because it’s only April. #28 wearing that strange, ugly red could use the boos.