By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
6:00 AM EDT, June 27, 2013
Closer Jim Johnson was booed when he walked off the mound Wednesday after blowing his fifth save of the season. My Twitter feed blew up after that, too, with Johnson haters.
One even suggested that Tommy Hunter replace Johnson as closer. Hunter, you remember him? The guy many fans wanted to send back to Texas for a bucket of balls in April. Now, after pitching his butt off, he’s become a fan favorite? Interesting development.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I have no problem with fans booing players when they don’t perform well, even at home.
Is it disrespectful? Sure.
Is it hypocritical when you boo that player one day and then ask them for an autograph or a picture at a later (or earlier) date? Absolutely.
Is it counterproductive, considering that a guy like Pedro Strop or Jake Arrieta or Ryan Flaherty is struggling to find confidence on the field and then gets booed by the hometown fans? Perhaps.
But fans pay hard-earned money to come to games. And if they want to voice their displeasure by booing – not throwing things or cursing out players, but booing – then that’s fine with me.
The players are big boys. And, as hard as it may be -- these guys are humans, too -- it’s part of their job responsibility to deal with fan reaction, whether it is cheers or boos.
Here’s what I don’t get, though: Johnson is a pretty good closer. He led the majors in saves last year. He was leading the majors in saves heading into Wednesday night. He had an awful stretch in May when he blew four of five saves, but he turned it around. He had converted 12 straight opportunities and had allowed just one run in 14 games since May 26 (a full month, people) before Wednesday’s loss.
And on Wednesday he pitched fine after doing the unforgivable, allowing a leadoff, four-pitch walk, followed by a double.
He then got a couple grounders, but they forced in runs.
It wasn’t a good performance, and Johnson acknowledged that after the game.
But was it boo-worthy? Were the boos a temporary, one-day thing? Or has Johnson lost all of that goodwill he accumulated last year since he had a rough postseason and a rougher mid-May?
This is where you come in, because I don’t boo or cheer. So answer my question. And explain your answer, if you would be so kind.
Daily Think Special: Should Jim Johnson have been booed Wednesday?
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