During last night’s Mets broadcast, I thought the best part of a dismal game was when Gary, Keith and Ron found themselves stumbling for words when the results of the Toyota Text Poll was revealed. Here is a screen shot courtesy of Amazin Avenue.
Keith Hernandez spoke out first and said “Hmmm”. Gary Cohen and Ron Darling were a little more enlightening, but still struggled to decipher the results. And even Kevin Burkhardt found it necessary to jump in and try to explain what we were seeing which he aptly did.
I think what many forget is that most Mets fans don’t blog or read blogs, or have a Twitter or Facebook account, and that the great majority of fans simply don’t over analyze and scrutinize every single at-bat and pitch the way the new internet savvy fans do. They don’t go to websites to read charts with a hundred or so different colored dots on them, or view graphs with a half-dozen squiggly lines that resembles the results of their last EKG. Some of the internet’s most popular baseball sites are centered mostly on statistical analysis, and dozens more are popping up every month. And although many of these sites have large internet and social media followings, their analytical views of the National Pastime simply does not resonate with the vast majority of baseball fans.
Many old school fans, especially those who still remember watching “The Hammer” John Milner, or Buddy Harrelson and Pete Rose going at it, still root for their favorite baseball players based on their personality and likability. Nobody ever threw a Coke bottle at Ron Swoboda because he batted .235 in 1969. They loved him and cherished him because he was one of the brightest personalities on the team. He was funny, clowned around in the clubhouse and kept everybody loose.
With a growing number of the new breed of baseball fans, there’s no room for personality and things like that. They can form opinions of players without even watching them throw a pitch or take a swing simply by looking at a boxscore. If a player can’t maintain their prescribed minimum statistical performance levels, then they have no use for that player. He is rendered obsolete and becomes the punchline of millions of social media jokes each one intended to one-up the other in a barrage of ever so clever one liners.
Now getting back to Jeff Francoeur.
I understand that Francoeur wasn’t meeting the minimum expectations of these new-fangled baseball fans, but did Francoeur actually deserve to be mocked and attacked the way he was in over a thousand posts and tweets on Wednesday? Couldn’t all the bad jokes and acrimonious insults be reserved instead for someone like Oliver Perez whose selfish acts actually hurt the team and he continues to be a malcontent that couldn’t care less about his teammates or the fans?
Why persecute a player who always gave 110% of pure effort every time he took the field? Why minimize the many good things Francoeur did, just so you could amplify your arguments and animosity against him? Not even Vince Coleman or Bobby Bonilla was treated this badly.
Reading all the negative posts yesterday really made me wonder about how Mets fans were evolving. I thought the theory of evolution hypothesized that a species can adapt and improve as they evolved. Surely Darwin couldn’t have imagined that some day a baseball fan would blow his theory out of the water. Maybe we should discard the use of the word fan in some cases, because it know longer exemplifies the fanaticism for a team and it’s players that it once did. Or maybe not…
The one good thing that came out of that Toyota Text Poll, was that it showed me that true fans still exist – - and do so in great numbers.
It reminded me that although me and millions of others baseball fans debate, blog, tweet and opine about the game closely on the internet, that tens of millions more fans simply get their baseball fix by going to the games, tuning in religiously on radio or TV, and reading the back pages of the newspaper in the morning.
It was nice to see those Mets fans give Francoeur the sendoff he deserved by participating in a poll and letting Frenchy know:
Hey, thanks for always trying… and thanks for always hustling… but mostly thanks for being a great teammate and a good Met…
Take it easy Jeff, and good luck to you.