Thursday, April 15, 2010

Booing Vazquez

Good morning, Fackers. As I'm sure you know by now, Matt and I are unabashed Javier Vazquez supporters. We spent several posts this offseason discussing whether or not his reputation as someone who is not clutch is deserved and during Spring Training, I explained why I was rooting for for Javy to do well this season. Matt wrote the previews for both of his starts this year and in yesterday's, he said:
Yet as Javier Vazquez returns to the Bronx, makes his first home start of 2010, and tries to re-establish a home in New York, I fear he may be facing a higher degree of difficulty than most, particularly in light of those who saw what they expected to see in his first start. I hope that these fans, who are so often told they're the best in the world, don't prove my fears to be well founded.
Of course those fears came to fruition when Vazquez had a poor outing - which was exacerbated by the fact that Joel Pineiro had an excellent one - and a vocal minority of fans decided to boo him. It's not surprising, but the fact that we were expecting it doesn't diminish the ridiculousness of it.

Everyone has a right to voice their displeasure if they want to, but the right to do something doesn't absolve you from being wrong for doing it. Just ask this guy.

Although the type of people who root against their own players are probably not the same ones who read a lot of baseball blogs, I'm glad that Craig Calcaterra noticed the "classless, ignorant" reaction to Vazquez's outing and wrote a short post at NBC about it:
These boos are almost certainly a function of people thinking back to 2004, which is amazingly weak given that, you know, the team just won the World Series five months ago. For a fan base that fancies itself so much more knowledgeable than anyone else's, this was pretty bad.
Obviously there are painful memories of Vazquez that none of us have completely forgotten, but as Craig points out, the Yanks just won the fucking World Series. All grudges concerning 2004 should have been erased by now. I'm not sure it's about "knowledge" so much as arrogance and entitlement, that are the issues at hand though.

A lot of New Yorkers (rightfully) believe that it's the best city in the world, which isn't exactly a controversial point, but it tends to taint the way that some of them follow their sports teams. Success and failure are magnified through the lens of the Big Apple to the point that the city becomes the reason for every poor performance that happens in it, which of course, is bullshit. These are the same people who take it upon themselves to determine who "belongs here" or "can handle it". They feel like they are a part of the city and telling themselves that not everyone can "make it here" as Sinatra said, grants them an added feeling of supremacy.

Rob from Bronx Baseball Daily thinks that the expectations for Javier Vazquez are too high, but I actually believe the opposite to be the case. I think the jerkoffs who booed Vazquez as soon as he gave up runs in the third inning were fully expecting him to fail and pounced on the first opportunity to display their disgust. Obviously we saw the same thing happen with A-Rod in Octobers past as his postseason struggles began to snowball. We even witnessed it in the beginning of last year when Mark Teixeira got of to a slow start and the home fans got restless.

To his credit, Vazquez is keeping his head up and saying the right things ("I feel like it's unfair because that was so long ago"), but I'm still ashamed that people I share a rooting interest with fans would treat someone who is vital to the team with such derision the first chance they got. Clearly they don't think he's cut out to play in New York, but apparently haven't figured out that booing the guy is just going to put more pressure on him.

Michael Kay and John Sterling both love to tell us that Yankee fans are "the best in the world", but that's only true when things are going well. As Neyer says, passion cuts both ways. When it turns sour (or in this case, before it even has a chance to), there is a contingent of Yanks fans who can be some of the absolute worst.


  1. I think you nailed it with this:
    "Everyone has a right to voice their displeasure if they want to, but the right to do something doesn't absolve you from being wrong for doing it."

    But Calcaterra at Hardballtalk called the fans classless and ignorant. They may be wrong, that is, the sample size they're using to judge Vazquez is too small, and it doesn't indicate that he's no good, but they're not out of bounds. they get to boo players who help their team lose. They're at the ballpark because they root for the Yankees, and if they didn't they wouldn't bother to be there at all. If booing makes them feel better, they're entitled.

    Who's classless and ignorant, a fan booing some millionaire becasue it makes him feel superior, or a blogger insulting fans because it makes HIM feel superior?

  2. Matt from the Bronx (Zoo)4/15/10, 8:49 AM

    Ahh come on, Jay.

    It's not that big of a deal. NY fans (like all other fans) are fickle. They'll boo you when you're down, and call you a hero when you're up. All Javy has to do is get a few decent performances in, and he'll endear himself with all the yahoos in the bleachers quickly.

    While I am not necessarily an advocate of booing personally, I get why fans do it and I think they have a right to do it without being judged. I don't necessarily think it is a deep rooted message of expected failure for certain individuals. Rather, it's just a super practical way of showing frustration for the here and now. Passion is a two way street. I'd rather have fans with some personality (for better or worse), then fans who are impartial or disengaged.

    As for guys like Tex, A-Rod (in the past), Javy, Pappi, or any other super star who is struggling right now, I think there is something to remember. Sure, these guys appreciate standing ovations and at the end of the day they probably can do without the boos. However, they get paid A LOT of money. When it comes down to it, they are being handsomely rewarded for a game! They really could care less about what a fan has to say.

  3. I totally agree: expectations are too low, and fans were laying in wait to jump on him. It's only two starts! Give him some time!

  4. Grammarian, I'm not sure if that last sentence was directed towards me or just Craig, but it's a valid point.

    I think it boils down to three things:

    1. It's too early and the Yankees are doing too well to be frustrated enough to boo a starter over a 5.1 inning, 4 run outing.

    2. It's counterproductive

    3. Booing a guy for something that happened 6 years ago is something you could accept from a petty, struggling fanbase not one whose team won last year's World Series and is off to a good start.

    Matt- I don't think that Javy cares that much, but it doesn't excuse the behavior.

  5. Jason from The Heartland4/15/10, 9:55 AM

    I thought the booing of Vazquez was disgraceful, in no small part because he didn't pitch so badly. Jay rightly attributes some of the reaction to the fact that Pineiro pitched very well, as well as the unnecessarily lingering rancor of some fans. But looking at his start, he got through the first two innings if inefficiently, struggled in the third allowing two runs, then retired 8 of the next 9 batters before exiting having allowed another run in the 6th, with the 4th allowed coming off a hit off Aceves. He wasn't really good, and struggled with command a bit, but all in all kept the Yankees in a game that, with a modicum of offense, would have looked and made his start look far differently. That doesn't merit boos by any stretch.

    It comes down to expectations that I feel, like Jay, are too low for the guy. Some fans yesterday acted as if he were Kevin Brown ala 2005--and just acted spoiled.

  6. I'm glad I had to watch this game from a Blackberry now... I really would have been annoyed with the booing had I heard it myself.

    Sure we still have our ''core four'', but I felt a lot of demons were exorcised by an extremely memorable October (November) run that marked a new beginning of sorts for the franchise. I talked to a lot of fellow fans that month - many who held onto lingering fears of collapses and short Octobers and who were just waiting for it to happen to this team. As we marched onward, you could sense those fears evaporating as fans everywhere started looking forward rather than backwards.

    And now, here we are in a new season, looking backwards again. Well, not everyone, just the vocal minority, but still I hate it. I understand it, but I hate it. I really hoped we could look classier than that.

  7. I didn't want Javy to be a Yankee again, Jay, but I couldn't agree more with you about the booing.

    This part of the fanbase who believes in the so-called "true Yankee" nonsense, who thinks that hazing players will toughen them up, and who decided that they are the self-appointed arbiters of who deserves cheers make me sick. And yes, they are classless and ignorant. So sue me.

  8. Grammarian, who's more classless? A commentor who calls a blogger classless and ignorant, or a commentor (me) who calls you classless and ignorant for calling a blogger classless and ignorant?

    These bloggers are making a judgment that I think is right on.

    Matt ftBZ, evreyone gets judged. My judgment is that I am morally superior and have more class than someone who boos.

    Who cares if they make a lot of money. When you went to see Cats on broadway, would you have booed if the star (who i'm sure got paid a lot of money) blew one of their lines? Did you boo Sylvester Stallone when you watched Rocky V? People may have looked at you funny in the theater, but at least you would feel better for venting.

  9. I disagree with the idea that Javy should be immune from booing and that doing so brands one as ignorant and a "bad fan." He stunk when we pitched in 2004. He was center stage during the Game 7 ALCS finale. He left a lot of Yankee fans with a bad taste in their mouths.

    Now, he's come back supposedly a new man, coming off his best season in a while. This is also coupled with a heavy promotional push by the Yankees promising things would be different this time around.

    Will they be? Who knows? There's a lot of baseball left to be played. But the early returns don't look promising.

    I could make the argument that those who were booing are actually MORE knowledgeable than everyone else and probably better fans. Why? If you've been to Yankee Stadium in the last few years, you'll notice the greater amount of fly-by-nighters. People showing up because they're either hopping on the bandwagon or visiting NYC's newest tourist attraction. I contend that a lot of the booing fans are those who are still sore over Javy's 2004 performance.

    The phony, fly-by-nighters aren't going to remember that. Most of them probably couldn't even tell you the Yankees failed to make the playoffs in 2008! They probably just figure they're there every year.

    That's not to say if you didn't boo that you're not a real fan. But, the argument works both ways. Maybe he should take the Jack McDowell strategy. Flip off the fans then pitch your ass off the rest of the season. I was at that game. I booed Jack. I saw the finger. I then applauded. I knew the message got through and his pitching after that proved so. It won't work with everyone, but it doesn't mean all players should be handled with kid gloves. Javy came here with something to prove and has failed to do so thus far.

  10. Jason from The Heartland4/15/10, 2:20 PM

    Setting aside the stuff about who is knowledgeable and who is fly-by-night, Dr. T., I will have to agree to disagree. Vazquez's stint wasn't great but was hardly worth booing. He left in the 6th in a 3-1 game, with his 4th run allowed being on a hit Ace allowed. He allowed two runs, then retired 8 of the next 9 to keep the game tight against a guy in Pineiro who was clearly on and far better than usual. He didn't pull a Wang from 2009, not even close. Let's give the guy a little time. Sabathia started pretty slowly last season, too. This team is 5-3 with Teixeira not hitting a lick, and the team having played all of two home games (7 coming the entire month of April) after beating both of their front-line competitors for the East.

    I also couldn't disagree more with the re-baptism by fire with some bird exchange with overheated fans. That won't help a lick with the segment of spoiled fire-breathers jumping all over him thus far, largely unfairly. I counsel patience.

  11. Dr T. wrote: "I could make the argument that those who were booing are actually MORE knowledgeable than everyone else and probably better fans. Why? If you've been to Yankee Stadium in the last few years, you'll notice the greater amount of fly-by-nighters. People showing up because they're either hopping on the bandwagon or visiting NYC's newest tourist attraction. I contend that a lot of the booing fans are those who are still sore over Javy's 2004 performance."

    Oh, please. I've been going to games since the mid-70s. I was AT Game 7. I saw Javy's horrible game in person. I never wanted him as a Yankee again.

    But I also know it is counterproductive for fans to boo their own players. And it's even more counterproductive to boo players over something they did six flipping years ago. As if Javy can go back in a time machine and change what happened.

    And sorry, your so-called "knowledgeable" fans were booing Vazquez after just 14 pitches. You call that smart? I call that idiotic.

  12. Steve McSteve4/16/10, 9:31 AM

    This is hilarious. People are making such a big deal about the booing. Honestly, who gives a shit?! It's freaking BASEBALL!

    Also, just out of curiousity, when is booing acceptable? You say, don't boo after 2 starts of pitching falling somewhere between crap and mediocrity. When does it become acceptable to boo a player? 6, 8, 10 starts...a season? Lol, whatever, this is a bullshit blog entry.

  13. As Jay said above Steve, the fans can do what they want, but that doesn't make it right.

    Was Vazquez booed because of his start Wednesday, which wasn't good but wasn't terrible? Or was he booed because some fans are still brandishing a Red Sox Nation-esque obsession over shit that happened more than five years ago? If Phil Hughes turned in the same line last night that Vazquez did Wednesday, or if CC does tonight, do you think either one of them gets booed off the mound?

  14. Now that A-Rod has his ring, Javier Vazquez is going to be the designated Yankee scapegoat, so that the idiotic yahoos in the fanbase have somebody to mock and make fun of. That's what this is about, more than anything else.

  15. Look. I watched the game on tv, and by the 5th inning against the Rays, I caught myself saying, "Javy you asshole...stop giving up runs." Tough shit for him. The truth is, Javy isn't Jeter. He isn't CC. He isn't A-Rod. He's Javy Effin Vasquez. If he doesn't want to be booed...all he has to do is perform. If that's not "fair," well then tough shit for him. Life's not fair. Why should he get a free pass for a mediocre product? I don't care about him as a person. As far as I'm concerned, he is a product that I'm paying for everytime I go pay for a ticket. If he pitches like a dope, he'll get the respective reception.

    "As Jay said above Steve, the fans can do what they want, but that doesn't make it right." I forgot Jay is the end all to ethical decisions. Because some blogger thinks booing is uncalled for, all the dissatisfied fans of NY have to curb their opinion. Just because Jay can request censorship of one's sentiments of Javy, doesn't mean he should!

    I also think Lisa should revise her "scape-goat" theory. If memory serves, A-Rod hit abysmally with runners in scoring position. He also did terrible for several consecutive post seasons (albeit so did most of the others in the playoffs). Point is, he even came out and admitted he deserved to be booed because he wasn't performing up to expectation.

  16. Jason from The Heartland4/16/10, 2:32 PM

    Why is it that the most confrontational, abrasive comments especially toward the writers here are written by various Anonymous people?

    Oh yes, because a name connotes some identity with accountability.

  17. Lol, or because I don't have an account with Google, Live Journal, Wordpress, Typepad, or AIM. Nor do I have a URL. My name's Jake and I'm from Jersey. I also commented on the other link. I don't usually say anything on these sites, but people have been bitching about this ad nauseum and I'm bored.

    As for accountability...really? I mean...gauging something so utterly subjective about someone you don't even know...okay. What else?

  18. Then by the same token Anon, what makes you the end all, be all on the appropriate level of expectations for fans and the proper response to poor performances? Because you watched two early season games on TV? Because your memory is so airtight that you can recall his failings from five and half years ago?

    It's not about "fair"; it's about "stupid". As in it's stupid to ignore his body of work in Montreal and from 2005 through 2009, and focus on his performance over the second half of 2004 and in two fucking starts in 2010.

    I don't have a problem with fans booing players. I do have a problem with the sense of self-satisfaction amongst those who are using 11 IP as proof positive that Javy isn't a "True Yankee" or that he isn't cut out to play in NY. I have a problem with people who are using performance in 2009 as an excuse to let loose remaining and misdirected vitriol from 2004. If we're going to draw lasting conclusions from small samples of early season performance then we need to start writing off Tex, and A-Rod, and whole bunch of others too. If we're going to boo people for 2004 better get on A-Rod and Mo, and try to dig up Sheffield and Kevin Brown and Tom Gordon and a host of others who disappeared for the latter half of the series.

    It's nice that a whole day after Jackie Robinson was lauded around baseball you choose to express your belief that players are "products" that you're paying for.

  19. Jason from The Heartland4/16/10, 2:53 PM

    Accountability regarding to whom to direct responses, that multiple people can be "Anonymous," that a URL isn't necessary, nor is an account, to establish a name/identity of some kind. It isn't "utterly subjective," given that some of this overlaps a little with various norms of society generally, and blogs specifically.

    Sorry all this is soooo...beneath you, "Jake." Maybe you can start a blog on what ought to be relevant and open it up to scrutiny. Let us know when you begin that venture and refract your intellect from finger-pointing. Methinks circa the 12th of never...

  20. Jason from The Heartland4/16/10, 2:55 PM

    Well said, Matt--products rather than people is galling to say the least.

  21. make some fair points. But before you call me least hear me out.

    1. I don't give a damn about what the Expos.

    2. I don't really even care about what he did in 2004. He was the icing on the cake. After blowing 3 games after winning the first 3, no one with any sense had confidence in Kevin Brown as our starter.

    3. I boo him because I take time off of work to hang out with my pals who I haven't seen in ages to watch a game about once every 6 months. He chokes, we boo. Big freaking deal.

    4. My booing isn't exclusive. I've booed A-Rod. I've cursed the tv when Jeter hits into one his double plays. I've been agitated when clowns like Marte come in as specialists and can't handle the 1 damn batter they are essentially signed for. I guess that's the plight of the mega-rich super athlete. They might be under public scrutiny.

    5. Get over it. They are commodities. Just like you are to a business the second they pay your check. Jacky Robinson the person is DIFFERENT than Jacky Robinson the player. The person was great. He helped break down the color barrier and helped the civil rights movement. As far as the player, he was just a damn good player. It's the same people who become emotionally invested into players (rather than the team), who cause guys to be resigned for 10 years of past performance rather than their current contribution. I think Jeter's great. But the second he stops being the best choice for the Yanks...I hope they replace him because Jeter the PLAYER will no longer be useful.

    6. I realize you guys don't agree with's fine. I'm not the end all...I'm just me.

  22. Jason from The Heartland4/16/10, 3:02 PM

    Players are not commodities, Anonymous/Jake. Matt's point relates to the common thread of dehumanization. Not all fans by any means agree that fans should treat players as employers usually treat employees.

    This exchange has been very revealing.

  23. Okay, that's fine dude "Jason"/Heartland. I'm glad this convo has been revealing. I can hardly imagine the glorious epiphany you've had.

    My point is simple. You're welcome to your point of view and I'm welcome to mine. And as long as you guys are going to pass judgement on others for booing, I'll do the same.

    Also, as far as 'dehumanizing,' I think you need to wake up. These players have nothing in common to you. They look up in the stands all the see is screaming dollar signs. You mean nothing to them other than a paycheck. Unless their name is (Curtis) most players at the end of the day care about their signing bonus, and not one bit about the fan. Honestly, who could blame them. If you were given a chance to better yourself, you would! Even if means taking on hundreds of millions during one of the worst economic would. So as long as we're going that route of dehumanizing...I think I'll keep my relationship with the players purely superficial.

  24. Jason from The Heartland4/16/10, 3:50 PM

    Anonymous/"Jack," you're devolving into pointless abrasiveness to be honest. It is revealing to me in that your views wholly inform something I've long been considering, which is issues of class in sports and why everyday fans frequently have little to no sympathy with players, their side in labor relations, and expressions of outright hostility in such a vicarious outlet. Their salaries vis-a-vis those of most fans have much to do with it, as does the commodification of American culture and sports, especially in such a live-through-others superficial society as ours.

    No, I don't need to "wake up" about what you're saying being dehumanizing. I think I have a good handle on this, thanks. If you're outright saying that players are commodities, you're devaluing their humanity to a dollar exchange for play; in fact, you're in essence saying that their being conduits of entertainment is their essential value, and that's it. That players "look up in the stands all the see is screaming dollar signs" is patently ridiculous psychoanalyzing and thin gruel as justification for your opinions--which you're entitled to have, however misguided they are. Players in all sports continuously state how much they care about and appreciate fans. For some, this might be smoke and mirrors; others likely mean it. But for you to purport to know that "most players care...not one bit about the fan" has little basis in reality. They care a great deal--about how they're treated, presented in media and public, about their images, about playing hard for fans out of a sense of appreciation, care about public service through charities, care about those who unfailingly support them. And anyone's obvious willingness to care about signing bonuses and salaries neither precludes what I just said about players caring about much concerning them and fans, nor justifies your embrace of superficial commodity culture. In fact, it represents the worst of what you mentioned earlier, which is paralleling how employers frequently treat employees--badly. Let that dictate your own perspective, and I'll gladly strive for some decency for people in workplaces generally, thanks.

    If you wish to frame your admittedly rancorous treatment of players based on whether or not they, God forbid, fail to meet your lofty expectations as layman consumer from afar, be my guest. But I have nothing left to say, to you at least, on this matter. It's beyond agreeing to disagree about pragmatism and ideology. It just seems fully lost on you because you've ensconced yourself among the spoiled segment of Yankee fans, whose outlook I thoroughly dislike because it gives fans, Yankees and otherwise a bad name. In fact, if some players did look in the stands at people as dollar signs when they like yourself boo for no good reason, who could blame THEM?

  25. Matt from the Bronx (Zoo)4/16/10, 4:31 PM

    Wow Fellas, you all need to take it down a notch. Honestly, Jason, bashing someone because they don't share your opinion doesn't help your claim. It undermines it and it reminds me of the radio host who essentially refuses anyone who doesn't think alike. It sounds to me like he is essentially taking a relativistic (and very cynical) approach and accepts others will disagree.

    And Jake, you need to lighten up man. This is a baseball blog comprised of baseball geeks. We talk about everything from Booing to uniforms to every single arbitrary aspect of the game. That's how it works.

    I'm not saying we all have to be super best friends...but let's try to keep this as civil as pixels on a screen can be.

  26. Jason from The Heartland4/16/10, 4:42 PM

    You're right, Matt, but I believe you misplace where the bashing began. But your advice is duly noted.