|Prior to Alex Rodriguez's first return to Seattle since signing with the Texas Rangers, the Mariners issued a statement requesting that all fans be on their best behavior at the game and show the shortstop the respect he deserved following his exceptional contributions to the team.
Naturally, the fans ignored this request, subjecting Rodriguez to the sort of verbal abuse rarely heard outside afternoon drive time. The reaction was so intense that even the Japanese correspondents asked about it, snapping a string of 1,483 consecutive questions about Ichiro.
Rodriguez wasn't the first free agent to hear boos upon his initial return to his former city, and he won't be the last. Already, Manny Ramirez is buying industrial quality earplugs for his return to Cleveland. And no doubt Oakland fans will shower Jason Giambi with boos should he not re-sign with the Athletics this winter.
Instead of a vague team request that fans act respectfully during these homecomings, what is needed much more is a code of conduct specifically outlining what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. After all, there is a fine line between expressing your opinion and behaving like an ass, which is why Bobby Knight gets in so much trouble.
|In signage at least, Mariners fans kept it clean Monday night while jeering Alex Rodriguez.|
Inappropriate jeers: Anything vulgar, racist, misogynist, homophobic or anyway threatening. Such words are not only intolerable in any
public arena, they are best restricted to an NBA player's rap CD.
Appropriate jeers: Keep it clean and try to be original. Upgrade
the tired clichés of the past to better skewer the modern ballplayer, such as, "The graphics on your personal website suck," and, "You should read what people are saying about you in the chat rooms," and, "I'm taking all your baseball cards out of their mylar protective cases and bending the corners."
Scream all you want. Jeer all you want. But never, under any
circumstances, throw anything at a player. No matter how badly betrayed you feel by a player's departure, no matter how big a jerk the player is, you are never justified in throwing a dangerous object at anyone. Leave that to Roger Clemens.
(Note: This rule also applies to throwing dollar bills. This traditional gag is harmless and always good for a laugh, but really, it is not appropriate for fans to throw away money. Leave that to Tom Hicks and Peter Angelos.)
Show some simple courtesy. Don't call the team hotel at 3 in
the morning, trying to wake up the player so that he'll be tired and dragging during the big game. That's unsportsmanlike, juvenile and plain unfair. Besides, he probably doesn't get back from the bars until at least 4 a.m.
When creating a banner with an insulting message that sums up your
newly developed hostility toward the player you used to worship, remember to spell the word pedophile correctly.
Signs of the times
Here are some of examples of signs spotted Monday night at Safeco Field:
Who let the dog in?
Pay-Rod shame on you
Need a loan? Call 1-800-252-ALEX
Don't trip Pay-Rod
Stats + greed = A-Rod sellout
Alex, buy me a house and a car and a truck and 5 dogs and please send me to college (carried by a 13-year-old Seattle boy)
Texas pays you but Seattle OWNS you
In Alex we trusted
Don't send mixed messages. Do not heckle a player mercilessly at
the ballpark, only to stand in the team hotel begging him to sign your
replica jersey. Send your son into the lobby instead.
Protect your voice. Restrict your booing to when it is appropriate,
like when the player is at the plate or on the mound. Note: It's generally considered bad form to shout, "You suck, you money-grubbing ass----!" during the national anthem.
Read their lips. When a player says he enjoyed the heckling, what
he really means is, "My God, will you people please show a shred of human decency and just shut up?"
And finally ...
Express your anger. Unleash your hostility. Just know when to give
it a rest. The only thing more pathetic than a player claiming that "it wasn't about the money" when he signed a $100 million contract is a fan still obsessing about it six months later.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
|If we had a dollar for every embarassing fan act more influential to kids than anything athletes do ...||