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In His Infinite Wisdom, Steve Phillips Would Like Fans To Stop Booing Players

Fanhouse contributor Steve Phillips  (man, Jay Mariotti AND Steve Phillips? That’s big time) doesn’t want to pull down your pants and give you a spanking for booing players, he just wants to provide some perspective on how it feels to be humiliated when all you hear are catcalls and sneers about how you are an abject failure at what you are paid to do.

In his column on Fanhouse, “Memo to Boobirds: You Aren’t Helping,” Phillips takes an astounding 1,673 eyes-rolling-back-into-your-head words to articulate what should have taken about 50.

With that said, let’s take a look at Phillips, a relative newcomer to the blogging game, as he shakes his…finger – yeah! – finger at fans who boo millionaire baseball players. But let’s do it Fire Joe Morgan-style. Warning: lots of “ugly production assistant” jokes ahead.

Let’s play a game?

Uh-oh. I don’t like where this is headed…

What do Javier Vazquez, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rios, David Wright, Troy Glaus, David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome have in common?

Most men would rather have sex with them than Brook Hundley?

OK, before you get smart-alecky…

Too late.

…it isn’t that they are all baseball players or that they have all been All-Stars or that they are all multi-millionaires. They play in different leagues, play different positions and come from different countries, so that’s not it.

Still not sure?

I have to admit, Steve. I’m lost.

The answer is that they have all been booed this year by their hometown fans.

NO! I am shocked none of them have committed suicide due to the mean-spirited bullying!

Somewhere along the way booing became a way for fans to communicate their displeasure with baseball players.

Similar to how a talking head who thinks he’s pretty awesome bangs ugly chicks to communicate their displeasure with their wife? A little bit, at least?

Pitchers like Vazquez get booed because they get knocked out of a game early and don’t live up to fans’ expectations.

Like doing their job of getting opposing batters out? Or is it going 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA? Those really are pretty high expectations. Shame on us.

Hitters like Ortiz get booed when they remind us that they aren’t the same players we once revered.

In a way, it’s kind of like we are metaphorically married to these players and don’t honor our wedding vows with them. Honor and cherish. Honor and cherish.

When a team signs a big free agent there are expectations that come with it. The player is expected to live up to the new contract.

Holy crap! What sort of crazy world is Major League Baseball living in where you are expected to produce at a certain level in accordance with how well you are compensated? That’s not how the Real World works, that’s for sure. I get a raise at my job if I don’t smack the secretaries.

Fukudome and Soriano are both struggling with this in Chicago. And then there are players like A-Rod, who, for whatever reason, are just easy targets.

Easy targets like homely production assistants? (Don’t worry, there’s more of these coming)

New York fans believe they are the best at booing. They believe they intimidate the opponents with boos and that they can motivate their own players by “riding them.”

Heh. Riding.

They defend themselves by saying it is their right. They bought their tickets and they have freedom speech. They are proud of their booing.

It’s a First Amendment issue, Steve! Don’t tread on me!

But booing isn’t exclusive to New York.

You’re kidding?

So don’t get all upset about East Coast bias.

Even in the Midwest? Those people are the salt of the earth, I tell ya. Salt of the earth.

This is for all of you booers out there, wherever you may be.

If booing has already reached Middle America, where next? Turkey? I anticipate that Turkey will receive their first shipment of booing manuals along with their Bell Biv DeVoe and Deee-Lite cassette tapes in a matter of days.

I’m not going to scold and chastise you for your booing.

Even if we beg and have been naughty?

I just want to try and explain what it does to players when they hear boos from the home fans.

I imagine it feels as bad as finding out your husband has been nailing a frumpy co-worker.

You see, I am somewhat of an expert on being booed.

You don’t say?

I played seven seasons in the minor leagues and was a career .250 hitter. I got booed — a lot.

I’m amazed Phillips had such a mediocre minor league baseball career, given his success running MLB front offices.

Yes, even in the minor leagues.

This booing epidemic is far worse than I thought. Next thing you know, parents will be booing players at Little League games.

I was the general manager of the New York Mets from 1997-2003, and despite taking the Mets to the playoffs in back-to-back years in 1999-2000 (the only time in the club’s history) and to the World Series in 2000, I received my share of boos and heckling then.

I believe the Mets had a pretty big payrolls those seasons, too. Once again, unfair expectations.

And believe it or not…

I don’t care what Phillips argues next. Unless Jack Palance rises from the grave and says it, I won’t know what to think.

…some of the players I traded for or signed got booed as well.

NO! It sounds to me like everybody was conspiring against Steve Phillips!

I guess that’s why I got fired.

You guess?

Anyway, here is what you need to understand about booing: it has absolutely no motivational value whatsoever. In fact, it has the opposite effect on baseball players … it discourages them.

So does watching a guy barely jogging out a ground out while he’s hitting .200 and making $4 million a year, but go on.

Look at it from your own perspective.

Okay.

Have you ever had a boss who was harsh on you?

News flash: I worked in a Nike sweatshop for three years.

A boss who didn’t acknowledge the effort you made or how much you cared about being successful? Someone who judged you exclusively on results? A boss who criticized you in front of your peers? Embarrassed you? Ridiculed you?

Here’s the rub. Fans aren’t the players’ bosses. Big difference.

What if the boss started booing you in a staff meeting?

Well, he did pay good money for that Weed Against Speed authentic dress shirt…

What if he stood next to you and booed you while you were trying to make a sale or work on the assembly line?

As far as the assembly line worker is concerned, he or she probably wouldn’t hear it over the noise of all the machinery.

How would you perform?

This would give me performance anxiety, but there are pills for that now.

Maybe it was a teacher instead of a boss.

Too many scenarios! Getting confused here!

What if you did all your homework, studied all night for a test, but still failed?

You’re stupid?

Now consider how you would feel if the teacher held up your test and ridiculed your answers in front of everyone in the lecture hall.

Impossible. Everyone takes online courses now. The University of Phoenix has eradicated all possibility of this ever happening.

What if the teacher booed you every time you came into the classroom?

Once again. Completely different situations. I appreciate his efforts, though. No I don’t.

How would you perform on your next test if the teacher stood next to you and heckled every wrong answer as you wrote them?

What kind of sick, demented freak is hiring these teachers? They should be fired!

For many these scenarios would generate anger. I got angry picturing them as I wrote it.

Settle down, Steve. It’s just a column. Hop off the ledge! No, back into the building, silly!

For others it might make them to try harder. Some would probably lash out at the boss or teacher. At the very least, it would clearly be a distraction from your ultimate goal.

How would any of these scenarios prevent me from becoming the most famous nude clown ever? Guess where the clown nose goes on my costume?

In a way, fans are the bosses of major league players.

I see what he is trying to say but he’s wrong. We can’t fire players.

You pay the players’ salaries with the money you spend at the games. Your communication with the players has a major impact on how they feel about themselves just as your boss’ communication has an impact on you.

Just so you know, if you fans keep booing A-Rod, he’s going to start cutting himself and listening to The Smiths.

Here is the problem…

This column is going nowhere. That’s one problem.

Players that are angry or trying too hard don’t perform better. They actually perform worse. Any player that is distracted from his job is unlikely to do it well.

Players…they’re just like us! But richer and have more venereal diseases.

Although players don’t consider the fans their direct bosses…

So, what’s the point of this argument? If players don’t consider fans their bosses, his point is moot.

…they do yearn for adoration and acceptance from them.

“The fans like me! They really really like me!”

Players want to perform well because of how good the cheers make them feel. Cheers makes ballplayers feel confident and supported.

Confident and supported? So, cheers are like the bra for the players’ heaving, ample psyches. If their psyches were boobs.

Yogi Berra said that baseball is 90 percent mental — the other half is physical. He is absolutely right … or at least 80 percent half right.

Ha!

The way a player feels and thinks has a major impact on how he performs in the game. Baseball is different than every other sport in this way.

No it isn’t. That is one of the dumbest things I have ever read.

Increased effort doesn’t lead to better results. Swinging a bat or throwing a pitch harder doesn’t lead to more success and more often than not leads to less.

Increased effort does not necessarily mean swinging a bat or throwing a pitch harder. It could mean taking more batting practice or increased work in the field. This whole column is getting annoying.

When baseball players are slumping, it rarely has to do with effort. Hitters always try in the batter’s box. Pitchers always try on the mound.

Thanks, Dr. Joyce Brothers. Tell us more.

When they struggle, it is far more likely that they are trying too hard. Baseball is a game of concentration and relaxation far more than effort.

Just like seducing ugly chicks. Can’t let them know you’re desperate.

Players need intensity not tension.

Read my previous comment.

When a player gets booed it changes the thoughts in his head.

Mind control? Crazy stuff! Bark like a dog, player!

It changes his relaxation and concentration to effort and distraction.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

The thought process is something like this when he hears jeers:

Oh goody. Role playing.

“Why are they booing me? I’m not really that bad am I? I have had a lot of success for these people. Why don’t they remember that? I will get it going. I am not that far away. I just swung at a bad pitch. I’ll get him next time.”

That’s exactly what they are thinking I bet.

As he steps into the batter’s box and hears boos before his next at bat, he thinks: “Seriously?! Seriously?! You’ve got to be kidding me. … They are already booing me? … Stop listening to them. Block it out. This is a new at-bat … a fresh start … why are these people so angry? They must be miserable …”

Yes, we are miserable. We’re watching you stink up the joint, ya loser.

“STRIKE ONE!,” says the umpire.

In my head, that pitch was way outside!

The hitter’s inner voice chastises himself. “Crap, that was right down the middle. I need to pull the trigger. What was I looking at? I may not get a better pitch than that during this at-bat. Focus! Be ready! Be aggressive!” The batter chases a pitch down and out of the strike zone.

“STRIKE TWO!,” says the umpire. The crowd starts to boo again in anticipation of a bad ending to the at-bat.

A player’s inner voice can haunt him when fans boo. The negative thoughts and feelings lead to changes in mental approach and may lead to changes in mechanics. The hitter thinks: “What the hell am I doing? That was way out of the zone. I need to focus. They are booing me now? Even before I make an out? OK what is he going to throw me here? I have to be more selective. … See the ball, hit the ball.”

“BALL ONE!,” says the umpire.

“OK that shut them up … now I will show them. I am going to rip this pitch. Come on baby throw it in there … they won’t boo me anymore …I have to get a hit here.”

The hitter swings at an eye-level pitch.

“STRIKE THREE!,” says the umpire. The crowd rains boos down upon the hitter as he takes that long lonely walk back to the dugout.

“I know. I know. I suck. That pitch was in my eyes. I had no chance to hit it. Why am I not seeing the ball very well? I better talk to the hitting coach and get some early batting practice tomorrow. Don’t let them see how much it bothers you … don’t make eye contact with that guy above the dugout screaming at you. What a jerk! Get a life!”

Worst. Inner. Monologue. Ever.

A player’s inner voice can haunt him when fans boo. The negative thoughts and feelings lead to changes in mental approach and may lead to changes in mechanics.

Hey, there were plenty changes to the Mechanics, but you never heard Mike complaining about it.

A player is in trouble when he says to himself, “I have to get a hit” or “I have to make this pitch.” When a player feels like he has to make something happen, effort takes over. A hitter overswings and a pitcher overthrows. Hitters will swing at more pitches out of the zone. Pitchers will rush their deliveries and leave their fastball up in the zone or hang breaking balls.

Jesus, if Phillips is accurate, baseball players are a bunch of mental defective headcases.

The longer he struggles and the boos continue, the more the player tries to bring them to a halt. The problem is that, in the desire to turn things around, sometimes players change things that don’t need changing — reinforcing the struggles and extending the slump.

God, is this almost over? Is anyone even reading this at this point?

Ballplayers want and need encouragement. Doesn’t everyone?

Yes, they do, Steve. Yes they do. You know what? I’m going to give an imaginary press conference on that very issue. Nope. Scratch that. Better yet, I will now interview myself utilizing split screen technology on why I want and need encouragement. That’s a far better, if better meant retarded, idea.

Imagine yourself back with the harsh boss.

Come on! I just managed to get that role play out of my head! Thanks, dick.

What if the boss was supportive and encouraging? How much different would you feel if the boss said, “Hang in there. You are working hard and fully capable of doing this. Keep your head up. I have your back.” Then, in a staff meeting, the boss points out that even though you haven’t gotten the job done yet, he believes in you and appreciates your hard work and preparation. How much better would you feel about yourself?

Wow. I have never thought it about it that way, Steve. Thanks, now I realize how shitty my boss really is.

It’s the same with baseball players. So when they slump or strike out in a big situation, don’t boo! Support. Offer encouragement.

I’m convinced. Every player on every team should get a trophy at the end of the season.

The reality is that you want the same thing that the player does — for him to have success the next time around. The best chance for him to achieve what you both want is to cheer for the struggling player.

“Hey, Player X! We believe in you! You can do it!

Simply having a right to boo doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

Same goes with banging ugly production assistants, fucking your wife over and then blaming it on a contrived notion of sex addiction, you pompous, arrogant jerkoff.

Memo to Boobirds: You Aren’t Helping [Fanhouse]