From today’s trib, about the Tuesday game …
With five victories in their last six games, the Cubs are 15-12. That's not bad, but the just-completed 4-2 homestand ended with many fans acting as if they were following a last-place team.
"I'll tell you this. It's counterproductive," manager Lou Piniella said of the booing. "Athletics is a tough profession. Playing baseball every day is not easy. Nobody's immune from struggling. The more they encourage our players, the easier for everybody involved."
I subscribe to the old theory that if you buy a ticket to the game, you’ve earned the right to cheer or boo whenever and for whomever you want. However, more and more I feel that what Lou is referring to is an issue and something that bothers me. I find that the booing bothers me – because I think it can affect the players.
Or, IMHO, I think it is conveying a different message to the players than most of the fans would want to communicate at that moment. This is similar to my feeling about the crowd reaction to Game 1 of last year’s playoff – mute, shock, no encouragement, no rooting – which was a different message to the players than most of the fans wanted to communicate.
Don’t get me wrong, I think booing is appropriate and something I willingly participate in, for example, if there is an obvious lack of hustle (not running out a grounder, letting a fly ball drop w/o an effort) especially when it is repeated. Or, bunny-hopping a fly ball into an error. But, if a pitcher has a bad outing, or the new guy goes 0-for-5, I agree with Lou. “It's counterproductive".
Most of my years following the Cubs – they were almost never booed. I realize our expectations are higher these days, and that is a good thing, but I think there is something to the theory that the fans mood and attitude have a direct affect on the players.