Boo Birds, and Red Legs.

It’s the second week of the 2013 MLB season, and for the first time in what seems like forever, I’ll be writing an ACTUAL baseball oriented piece. Shocking as it is, I feel somewhat restricted in what I post on twitter, as 140 characters can hardly do justice to the brilliance I spew forth on a regular basis in person. Now you may be saying “Ok, Pinocchio, keep it growing” and you’d be right. My eyes aren’t brown, but they have reason to be.

Most of you may know me as Johnny D, JD, MaskMetal, or just that eternally optimistic guy you had to mute to salvage a shred of your sanity. And to begin, I want to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to Greg and Richard for even extending the opportunity to become more involved within the Reds fan community (I totally almost wrote out @Reds, so I may in fact be a twitter addict) and have the chance to meet some truly amazing people. Since my first rough spot on the show, the love for the Cincinnati professional baseball club has multiplied and grown into something that a few well chosen words still would fail to justly describe. Baseball is a love, and I wear that Wishbone “C” on my cap or chest with absolute, and unabashed pride. I am Canadian, my pet moose lives in the backyard, I love Bubbles, Julian, and Ricky. I know Mike from Canmore, and Tim Horton’s is sadly a dietary staple. I’m a life long baseball fan, relatively recent Redlegs convert, and firmly believe that the DH has no place in the game. I strive to see the positive side of everything, no matter how grim the outlook may appear to be on the surface, and while my level of snark may come through in rather challenging times, I can assure you all that I’m doing it with a broad smile on my face.

On to the first official post, Albert!

I was presented with the task of addressing the issue of how to approach the return of a star player adorned in a new jersey. Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels, and upon his return to Arlington, was heartily booed. I get that there was parting shots on his behalf, however, Rangers fans cannot simply throw their hands up and claim innocence. There was plenty of awful, rash, and hateful things directed at Hamilton during and after their last playoff exit at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, so for fans to say they were “offended” by Hamilton’s comments, I wish that they could turn the attention back on themselves before so wilfully showering Josh with those Bronx cheers.

I have to step outside of the MLB context for just a moment, and provide an example of how a player should be treated upon their return. Nobody will ever mistake me for a Leafs fan (go figure, the lone Canadian on this HFS team, referencing hockey. Shocker), but the way Toronto embraced Mats Sundin when he made his semi triumphant return while in a Canucks sweater, is the way it should be handled by fans. This guy was a catalyst for your team for a number of years where you experienced unheard of success, in what likely had been forever, if ever at all. Leafs fans cheered, they stood, they applauded, they thanked a franchise player for giving them everything he had night in, and night out. However, the next time he touched the puck, they booed. Sundin smiled. It was the nature of the beast, the business side of the sport that led him away from Toronto, but it was with nothing but love that they welcomed him back. Amid the chorus of boos, Mats Sundin smiled. That moment right there, was the correct transition from beloved, to foe.

There is always a different way to approach the return of a star athlete in a different uniform, and while I would never condone Hamilton’s claims that Dallas-Forth Worth (also, the stadium is in Arlington) not being a “baseball town”, but those fans booed him before he left the organization, and there was very likely nothing he could do to prevent that reaction during the Angel’s visit to Texas for the home opener. I like Josh Hamilton, and I love the passion that Texas fans have for their professional sports teams, but when it comes to saying goodbye to a former star, there needs to be an adult approach to the situation, and sadly neither side seemed capable or willing to step up. It may hold true that everything is bigger in Texas, including the expectations of a fan base that has been starved of success for far too long.

Again, don’t take my posts for anything other than perhaps a different take on an issue, but if you have a star athlete leave for financial reasons, or to find a better situation for their family, try to imagine yourselves in that athletes position. Would you make business decisions based on what’s best for your family, or fan expectations. We, the fans, represent our organization as much as that departed athlete, try to remember that next time a guy makes his return. And future free agents are going to remember how a guy was treated, or even how the fans treated his wife in the stands, OR ON TWITTER. So thank him for what he did while with the team, and then let loose the hounds of hell the next time he steps into the batters box, or takes the mound.

Feel differently? Agree? Want to call me Shirley? Drop a comment below, let’s get some conversation going!

– Johnny D (@MaskMetal / @3RedsPositives)

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5 thoughts on “Boo Birds, and Red Legs.

  1. Interesting piece, but alas, I would rather see you opine more towards the Reds. I have several rudimentary opinions on their current status, future options and the disarray of the pitching staff. April cannot end soon enough for me.

    Cheers,
    Nick

    • Nick! I love that you took the time to comment, my man. And I have to side with your quickly growing frustration as it relates to our beloved Reds. And believe me, when I finally get myself back to neutral after today’s…performance…I’ll be touching on the subject. I just needed to test out the waters on a subject that I personally felt deserved some attention or clarification. A chance to approach baseball from a different perspective that, as you correctly pointed out, isn’t exactly “Reds oriented”. I promise you that I’ll be posting LOTS of Cincy related material in the not so distant future! And yes, please bring on May. With every bit of enthusiasm we had leading up to April 2nd!

  2. I follow you on twitter (@bherzog2010), and maybe in the shuffle of all the Reds fans I follow, or the character limit, I didn’t appreciate the input enough. Great read, and I look forward to many more. I actually think we talked about the whole Hamilton issue. I liked that Cincy gave him a warm welcome. And right or wrong, I can see how Rangers fans justify their booing. That is a whole different conversation though. But nevertheless, great look into a topic that is not “everyday baseball.”

    • Thanks, Brian! It’s all good man, our online twitter crew is pretty maniacal at times, so it’s pretty easy to miss a few posts every now and then. And you’re right, Rangers fans paid for their ticket, and it’s entirely their right to define themselves as a fan regardless of where it stems from. As long as people are going to the games, and not making it a negative experience for other fans, I fully endorse participation while present! Cincy showing Hamilton appreciation was really pretty awesome. Made me proud to be a member of the best fan base in sports!

  3. Cincy does normally appear to be nice to former stars. The only former star that I can think of that got a less than warm welcome on return is Corey Dillon. He got booed and cheered.

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