That headline is “boo” in Japanese according to Google Translate. I have no idea what it sounds like or if Japanese people even boo. But, the fact that I can just throw that into a search engine and get an answer in 2 seconds is incredible.
But I digress.
Yesterday, moments after designating Hideki Matsui for assignment (and putting him on a direct flight from Baltimore to Tokyo) Joe Maddon made some pointed comments about fans that booed Matsui at the Trop on Sunday.
This is generally considered to be a touchy subject in baseball circles. First, very few players get booed that haven’t done something to draw the ire of the fans. More importantly, there is a tacit understanding that it is hard to criticize people’s behavior after they dropped a few hundred dollars so that you could play with your buddies. Those caveats aside, I think Joe made the right move here. And I agree with him.
No can argue that Matsui’s time with the Rays was anything but an unmitigated disaster. The high-point came, literally, on the first pitch he saw as a member of the team when he clubbed a long fly ball off the top of the wall with the bases loaded. It ended properly, if uncermoniously, after he left 37,000 runners in scoring position in a 3-game series against Seattle. His hands have slowed and his time has come to become a Japanese broadcaster or something.
But, I agree with Joe that Matsui’s stink-bomb at the plate doesn’t justify a boo. I cannot say that I have never booed a player. In fact, I can’t even say that I only booed players when I was a punk-ass teenager or college kid. I have booed. But I regret it.
If you’re going to boo, I think there are only a couple of justifications:
1) It is ok to boo a guy that isn’t trying;
2) It is ok to boo a dirty player that hurt one of your guys;
3) It is ok to boo a guy that said your hometown was full of “foreigners” or “kid[s] with purple hair” and “20-year old mom[s] with four kids;”
4) It is ok to boo a guy that took his talents to South Beach on national television; and
5) It is ok to boo AJ Pierzynski.
Matsui obviously doesn’t fit those elements. He did everything professionally. He even accepted an assignment to the minor leagues…willingly! You can bet no other aging superstar is willing to go to those lengths to get one more taste of the show. As I wrote before, that kind of humility should be celebrated. I was disappointed with his performance too. But I don’t think performance alone justifies his home fans booing him.
In fact, I would argue performance doesn’t warrant booing visiting players either. Derek Jeter has to be one of the most-booed players in baseball. I never understood that. Same goes for Longo when the Rays go on the road.
So, I put it to you. When do you boo? Is it ever ok?