I had the “pleasure” last night of sitting right behind the Blue Jays dugout on the third baseline. It is a rare occurence indeed when I move away from the safe haven of the 500 level, but I was given a pair of seats for the Jays/Twins game in section 125, right in the thick of the action. Mrs. 500 Level Fan and I were excited to be down low where we could see the players faces, see the strike zone, and have a chance at a foul ball. But we came away disheartened and disgusted at the fans around us.
The upper deck is full of positive (albeit drunken) energy a majority of the time. People are there to have fun, enjoy the game, have a few brown pops, and maybe get a bit rowdy. Apparently fans in the lower deck are there to heckle and get on our own players. I don’t know if they feel they have a sense of entitlement because they paid more for a seat, or if they just want to try and have their voices heard on TV. Whatever the reason, the treatment of Overbay as he came off the field was uncalled for. People around us were literally screaming at the top of their lungs: “You Suck!”, “Learn to field!”, “Triple A for Overbay!” One guy even went so far as to run down about 20 rows just so his screams could be heard loud and clear.
Because that’s how to get a guy out of his slump – boo him mercilessly until he forever loses whatever shred of confidence he had left.
Look – I get it. There are some cold hard facts that show Lyle is off to a rough start. Two errors on one play last night. A .181 avg, with only 3 HR and 38 K’s so far this season. But here are some other facts: .274 avg, .356 OBP, 63 HR, 143 2B, 269 RBI. That is Overbay’s stat line since joining the Jays in 2006. Throw in a .996 fielding percentage, and you get pretty good production at a fraction of the cost of other first basemen around the league.
And here is one more number to chew on: 23. That is the age of super-prospect Brett Wallace, the guy who the entire lower deck wanted in the game instead of “Lyle Overpaid”. Sure Wallace is tearing up Triple-A. Sure Wallace is the first baseman of the future. Sure Wallace has tremendous upside and might be able to outproduce Overbay right now. But answer these questions you raging, angry, lunatics:
- What do you do with Overbay if Wallace is called up? Release him? Eat his salary? Dump him on another team?
- What happens if Wallace is overmatched by big league pitching, has his confidence shattered and has to go back to the minors for an extended stay?
- If Wallace is the real deal, why start his major league service time early so he can become eligible for arbitration and free agency earlier? Why not take the path that Tampa Bay took with Evan Longoria and David Price, and Washington is taking with Stephen Strasburg, ensuring Wallace will be a Jay for longer?
I know a few bad apples ruin the section, so this is not an indictment of an entire crowd of people at the game, but the majority of the booing fans could not answer those questions. Why? Because they have NO IDEA who those players are!!! The fat kid to my left wanted to boo Overbay badly so he could impress his buddy. The fat guy to my right booed lustily, then left the game early so he could get home in time to watch Law and Order. (True story - I heard him say so to his buddies as they were leaving). They only know that Overbay didn’t hit a home run, didn’t make the diving play he tried for, and threw a ball into left field. I bet somebody would have tried to beat the snot out of him if possible.
Bottom line – give me my 500 Level seats any day. At least up there fans know the game, respect the game, and respect the players. For the most part anyways…
(Closing note: kudos to the security guard in the top of the 9th inning in our section for letting two young boys move down from way back and sit in the first row. At a time when other security guards were stupidly kicking people out who tried to move lower, this guy not only let the young kids stay, but talked, joked, and laughed with them the rest of the game. That is how you get fans back to the ball park.)