In Defense of Intelligent Booing


Apr 13, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) looks on from the dugout in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. The Marlins won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Booing gets a bad rap sometimes.

Yes, in Philadelphia, fans have taken booing to irrational, and sometimes hateful heights. When things are going south, the mood can get awful ugly at Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, or whatever name they’re calling the place where the Sixers and Flyers play.

Chase Utley waded into the “to boo or not to boo” debate this week when the Phillies’ radio duo of Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen asked him if getting away from the home ballyard helps the team re-focus.

"“Yeah, I think so. Obviously, they have a great fan base out here, they’re into the game, obviously booing us. But that makes it exciting. The last few games at home we didn’t play that well, the fans let us hear about it, and it doesn’t boost your confidence that way.”"

Utley’s comments were surprising for one main reason… we all thought Utley was an android.

I honestly thought Utley didn’t care about that kind of stuff, although I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, given his outspokenness in the past on being booed…

Utley’s comments this week were harmless and no great surprise, really. Players don’t like to be booed. Big shocker. And anyone who thinks booing actually helps improve performance on the field is probably too stupid to be allowed to attend a game without adult supervision anyway.

But I’m not going to sit here and say I’ve never booed at a game before. And I’ll bet you’ve booed too.

There are some boos I’d like to have back. There are absolutely some times when I let emotion get the best of me and I unleashed a vicious torrent of boos on someone who probably didn’t deserve it.

I’m sorry, Lance Parrish.

As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve come to realize that booing at professional sporting events is OK, but only if it’s done intelligently. And unfortunately, a great majority of the throaty booers at Citizens Bank Park are half in the bag by the time they make it to their seats, which pretty much eliminates the word “intelligent” from entering the discussion in the first place.

That said, I am fine with intelligent booing. Not only that, I am an active participant.

STOP BOOING JAYSON WERTH. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

For me, booing is all about an emotional release of frustration. Frankly, no one on the Phillies should be surprised when the fans boo after the fifth straight inning in which the team has stranded a runner on base with less than two outs. No one should be shocked when the fans boo the team during a 14-2 loss to the worst team in baseball. No one should be horrified when fans boo a lack of effort or hustle on the field.

They are all fair game.

And booing against opposing players is totally acceptable, on most occasions. If you have a problem with me booing Michael Irvin or J.D. Drew back in the day, I don’t know what to tell you. But some invaders don’t deserve the torrent of hate that has come their way in recent years.

I booed Scott Rolen when he first left, mainly because of his “St. Louis is baseball heaven” nonsense. But really, 10 years after the fact, do the boo birds really still need to direct their venom at him? Can we not let it go?

And booing Jayson Werth makes no sense whatsoever. Werth left the Phillies as a free agent for an incredible raise with the Washington Nationals, money the Phils didn’t, and shouldn’t, have matched. The next time your boss offers you a raise like that, and you refuse it, will be the first time, I can promise you.

And there are also some players that have done so much for the organization, and the sport, they should be immune to your boo.

People who booed Cole Hamels in the 2009 playoffs, after ALMOST SINGLE-HANDEDLY WINNING THE WORLD SERIES THE YEAR BEFORE, should have been taken out behind the shed and smacked with a shovel. Roy Halladay, under any circumstances, should NEVER be booed. EVER.

However, players need to understand that most of the time, when fans boo, it’s not a personal attack. It’s a vocal displeasure of the situation at hand.

When fans boo Ryan Howard as he is mired in the middle of a month-long slump, and he strikes out with the bases loaded in a crucial situation, intelligent boo-birds are not booing Ryan Howard, the person. They’re booing the event that just took place.

At least, that’s what the intelligent boo-birds like me are doing. But I will admit, there are the dunderheads in the stadium that boo the people. And that’s not right.

Listen, every Philadelphia sports fan who boos, like me, should take a long hard look in the mirror and consider their motivations.

Or, just stop drinking so much.

I have no problem with intelligent booing. Let’s just save it for the people and situations that really deserve it.

Like Lance Parrish.