Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greatest Fans in the World Are Becoming the Angriest Fans in the World

Starlin Castro did not have a good night.  There really is no getting around it.  His much anticipated Wrigley Field debut probably couldn't have gone much worse if Starlin had actually been trying to throw the game on purpose. 

He came to the plate in the 2nd inning with runners at first & second with only one out and managed only a weak grounder that he hustled into a fielder's choice instead of a double play.  That was the highlight of his game.

He made two throwing errors while Ted Lilly was busy throwing an otherwise perfect game and was directly responsible for the unearned run that scored on the first hit that Ted gave up.  He was not charged with an error when he went in the hole to get a grounder by Cameron Maybin and slipped and fell.  His throw from his posterior across the diamond was perfect and Maybin didn't beat it out by much.  So maybe that was his highlight.  The throw was impressive.  Theriot making that same throw would have resulted in the ball taking about eights hops and a roll before coming to a stop a couple feet in front of Derrek Lee.

Unfortunately, the worst play of the night came when he booted a groundball by Hanley Ramirez and as he dejectedly walked to the ball to pick it up, Ramirez sprinted in to second to make Castro's third error of the game that of the two-base variety.  Of course, a cascade of boos came down from the stands as the few thousand people that remained declared their displeasure over the young kid's struggles.

I have seen some shock and outrage on Twitter and in the Cubs blogosphere but I can't muster much emotion over it.  Don't get me wrong, I do not condone the booing of a 20-year old kid who has been hyped as being able to walk on water, but I guess I'm just not surprised.

The stadium is filled with people who paid a lot of money for their tickets on the promises that the new clubhouse chemistry would cure all that was wrong last year and that whatever the chemistry didn't fix, Rudy Jaramillo would.  People are feeling suckered.

The Cubs marketing department has spent a lot of time trying to market the Cubs as a winning ballclub in order to justify the tremendous rise in ticket prices over the years.  They have to sell the expectations because people who don't expect anything from their team don't fill a ball park day in and day out.  You can sit here and talk to me about Wrigley Field and old school baseball and whatnot, but what is truly important when you raise the cost of going to a game into the stratosphere is the winning.

There are tons of options to watch baseball played at an "inferior" level in the Chicagoland area.  The Schaumburg Flyers, the Kane County Cougars, the Gary Railcats, and Kevin Costner's new team, the Lake County Fielders are just a few places where one can go and watch baseball being played.  The quality of play is supposed to be less than that of watching major league players, but then you sit through a game where an insurance run is scored as a result of a little league trick play double steal that caught your veteran pitcher napping and you start to wonder why you paid $60 for a ticket when you could have had a better seat at one of the other parks for 1/6th of the price.

So Cubs fans boo anybody that is contributing to this feeling of being hornswaggled by the rhetoric at the Cubs Convention, the big It's a Way of Life campaign and anything else that convinced them that the Cubs are worth paying the most money in the majors to watch.  Given that a large percentage of the fans in attendance last night were probably only dimly aware of who was even playing shortstop, coupled with the large amounts of alcohol consumed before the 8th inning rolled around, I am not shocked in the slightest that Starlin heard the boos.

The Cubs have built the monster that this fan base has become by feeding it expectations it can't possibly reach and poking it in the ass with a cattle-prod by charging them more than anybody else to be disappointed.  There is nothing shocking about what happened last night aside from Aramis actually reaching base once.


Keith said...

Wait, I thought Neifi Perez was playing shortstop last night. I'M SO CONFUSED.

mrejr8234 said...

Dead on. I wish people would stop showing up to Wrigley altogether. Management would get desperate for a winner if the bleachers were empty but they're not gonna do anything until it effects their business model. Why turn the club into a winner when the money is rolling in?

MGb said...

Wow..that was a lot of thought put together to explain what was most likely the knee jerk reaction of several thousand fans seeing a shortstop's laziness turn a routine grounder into a double.

I guaratee you if the Cubs slogan this year was "Third place or bust" the boos would've been there. I see where you're going with that, and it may hav econtributed, but baseball fans generally do not boo effort, and there was no effort last night.

Duey23 said...

I've been fed up with the fanbase for the last 5 years. Ever since 2003 it seems that those in attendance feels the need to scream at everything and anyone.

Personally I'd love it if people stopped going but since there are over 50,000 people on the wait list for tickets there's, well, thousands more willing to have their chance at getting in the gates.

If the Rickett's are serious than they need a bigger campaign about the SMS service to report bad behaviors and the so-called Ambassadors (I think still yet to be seen) need to probably step up and be seen a heck of a lot more.

As I said over on "yardbarker.com" when someone was whining about ruining the asthetics about Wrigley with a stupid sign (http://tinyurl.com/26jgskl), I don't care if there are a hundred signs, I want a safe experience for my wife and child (hopefully devoid of drunk college kids/profanity) and a winning ballclub.

I'm an angry fan too, but never at the players, only at the "business" which seems to have taken precedence over the other things I've mentioned.

Aisle 424 said...

MGb, it was certainly a knee-jerk reaction, but to boo a kid that was clearly frustrated is not the same as booing the high-priced veteran that lollygags through a play.

The crowds at Wrigley have been sold a bill of goods that tells them to expect a quality team on the field. They've been saying that $140 million in payroll should be enough where fans should be able to expect a consistent winner, and whether they are right or wrong, the expectations are raised.

It was easy to laugh off a crap team back when you could sit in the bleachers for $8, but a family can drop $200 on tickets alone without breaking a sweat. It is going to foster angry reactions when the team doesn't play like one expects a team should.

People talked about New York and Boston fans being so hard on their teams and that was because the expectations were incredibly high along with the ticket prices. The Cubs have compared themselves to the Red Sox since Boston won a championship and now the fans are acting similarly. It's not an accident.

Anonymous said...

This is the first year in about 10 that I did not purchase any tickets. I am only a single ticket purchaser so my economic impact is basically zero, but it was the only way I could voice my displeasure. Oh, and I haven't replaced my DeRosa shirt....

Unknown said...

I don't buy your logic that most people at the game didn't even know who Castro was and were just booing because of raised expectations for the team. The team had spammed the e-mail of every fan that had purchased tickets from them over the internet with the news that Castro was making his Wrigley debut. All weekend long the sports discussion in Chicago revolved around Castro and his incredible debut in Cincy.

Castro received a standing ovation on his first plate appearance. If these fans didn't know he's the highly touted prospect why were they standing and clapping? I also don't buy that it's just a general reaction. You pointed out Lilly's stupidity on the double steal that resulted in a run being scored, how many boos did we hear? Zero. I went back and checked after Castro was lambasted.

You are correct that the organization has sold the fans a bill of goods and that's certainly part of it but there are also other factors at play here. I've seen Theriot make numerous fielding and base running gaffes and never heard the Wrigley faithful give it to him like they did Castro last night. What you saw last night by Cubs fans is part of the reason the team chose to debut Castro on the road. The team recognizes that a large sector of their fan base is prone to obnoxious and abusive behavior.

It really makes me wonder if the Cubs are going to be able to bring up any young players without fans jumping on their every misstep. It's counterproductive for the organization and the development of young players for Cubs fans to treat their own players this way. I just wonder when these idiots are going to wake up and realize it.

Aisle 424 said...

There is definitely a tendency to give the brown players on the team a harder time than the white ones. Whether that is indicative of the true feelings of a large percentage of the fanbase towards race relations or whether it is prodded on by a media that loves the white guys and seemingly has some problems with the darker skinned guys, or some combination certainly plays a role.

But that isn't new. That has been happening since I've been going to the ballpark, and Bill Madlock will probably tell you it goes back further than that. It is getting worse and I don't see anything else different other than the expectations that the Cubs should be winning now.

Maybe the fans knew exactly who they were booing, but most of that standing ovation came from the lower decks around the dugouts. The bleachers had some people standing, but most of the folks down the lines in the upper deck didn't seem to know why everyone was clapping. I'd say maybe 1/2 of the crowd stood. Either way, after 8 innings of the keystone cops routine, they'd had enough. It isn't excusable to boo a kid in his 4th game, but this fan base has been sold the promises of a quality team and is pissed as hell at what they are seeing and Starlin represented that last night as he trudged after the ball. (And if they did realize who he was, then he immediately got lumped into the Patterson, Pie, etc. etc. list of failed Vineline-hyped phenoms that has been an integral part of the Cubs lie over the years.)

Back when the slogan was "We're Working On it" and you could buy decent seats on the day of the game for a reasonable price, you let shit go. Hell, they're the Cubs - they are supposed to suck.

That isn't what we are being told anymore. The Tribune and now the Ricketts have been classifying this team in the same league as the Yankees and the Red Sox and charging the fans as though it were true.

This fan base needs to get a grip and stop believing all of the propaganda written in Vineline about how good this team is. Get some objective information and then decide if you want to blow over $50 per ticket to see a mediocre to downright poor team. Then if you still buy into it, you have no one to boo but yourself.

I'm not pissed at the players, I'm pissed at myself for actively supporting these clowns.

Anonymous said...

i begin to wonder if there really is such a thing as 'great sports fans'.

Anonymous said...

i didn't buy my share of season tickets this year, i really questioned it when i made the decision not to last winter. now i'm damn happy about it.

mb21 said...

The cost of a ticket to Wrigley Field has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the team. This is true for the other 29 teams in MLB and the other hundred or so professional teams in other sports. Teams charge what the fans will pay and they should do just that. If people were willing to pay $300 for a box of Cheerios, a box of Cheerios would cost $300. It wouldn't cost that much because it's the greatest cereal on earth. It would cost that much because that's how much the people are willing to pay for it.

People need to stop listening to Ricketts and the Tribune. They're selling tickets. That's their job. That's what they should do and they've done it well. If the Cubs had a roster in which Koyie Hill was 27 times better than the next best player, Ricketts should be marketing the team to the fans and charging every bit as much as Cubs fans are willing to pay. Ricketts wouldn't come out and say, "you know, when Koyie Hill is your best player by a mile, you're just going to suck. We're not going to charge as much money this year." He'd be much more likely to say something like, "I think people are underrating us. We feel have a playoff team here and we are going to contend every year. That's been the plan all along." That's what he should say even if the talent at their best on that team is a 0-162 team.

I don't think the fans in attendance are booing because of the cost of a ticket. I don't believe a person who is likely half-drunk is capable of seeing an error or a GIDP and then quickly thinking how much he paid for a ticket and then getting angry enough to react. If that was what happening, the boos would not be instant. They happen right after the play happens. it's a reactionary decision by the fans. The amount of time it would take to consider the cost of ticket and the product on the field is much longer than the tenth of a second it takes to hear boos after a bad play.

Just my 2 cents.

MGb said...

I think MB is correct, in a sense, and I beleive that Aisle 424 is correct - in a sense. I don't think A424 is suggesting that a patron's line of thinking is bad play -> Ticket price -> They said we'd have a good team! -> Boooo!!

Rather I think 424 is suggesting that this is an underlying or subliminal foundation upon which booers are building upon. If the team was bad and not marketed as being good, which one might argue the team was doing by selling the Wrigley Field/Harry Caray "experience" rather then the pathetic 9 idiots that took the field every day, then the boo birds wouldn't flock so quickly. It'd be more of a haha! Did you see what that bad Cubs player did?! Funny type mentality rather than the "This team should be better" mentality.

MB is absolutely right in that any team ownership should exude confidence that this is the year, otherwise they shouldn't own the team. The Pirates and Royals can only look on with envy at how popular the Cubs were back when they were as bad as them.

Aisle 424 said...

MGb beat me to it and I think he nailed it so I'll let his words above speak for themselves.

MB is absolutely correct when he says that people need to stop listening to the Ricketts and the Tribune. They are selling the team. That is all it is. Vineline is a marketing tool. It is not objective. Cubs.com is not objective. Len & Bob and anyone else broadcasting the team is not objective. There is nothing wrong with that, but people need to stop acting like they are getting objective data from these sources. They are getting spin. They are getting a carefully crafted message.

Don't believe the hype and you will find yourself either A) not purchasing tickets anymore like Waxpaperbeercup B) not bothering to watch or listen to the team at all because they suck or C) going to the game because you want to watch baseball and accept the fact that they are not good. There would be a whole lot less booing if that were true of this fanbase.

The douches who go to the game to be assholes only boo because they hear other people doing it so they would probably be quieter themselves and go back to puking and pissing on each other.

fritz said...

I think there are some folks who come to the game "looking for a fight" so to speak, and they'll use whatever excuse is handy to vent against their current object of frustration. Last year we had a drunk bozo in our row who literally booed every pitch to Bradley-- ball, called strike, foul-- all the while yelling about his batting average.

For what it's worth, my experience at 20 games last year wasn't that bad. Most folks in my sections of the terrace were fun to be around and there wasn't a lot "dumb fan" behavior. So far this year it's been much the same. When Castro made his error on Tues night there was more of a collective groan than any booing in my section; Wells got some for the second HR, but that really wasn't even more than a few people.

Anecdotal I know; we'll be in the bleachers on Sunday so maybe I'll be singing a different tune after that...

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