So the team captain promised he would pick a guy from the neighborhood for the special team, but instead he decided to go with someone from another part of the country. The locals in the stands got so mad they just booed and booed the captain, who did not cry, but seemed a little rattled.
If that sounds like a scene from a Little League game, that's a reasonable assumption. Kids can get emotional, especially when it comes to promising to do something and then not doing it, and how it's just not fair when someone who lives right down the street didn't even get to participate in a sporting activity right in his own neighborhood.
Except that these were adults, the game was the Major League Baseball All-Star Home Run Derby, and the captain was Yankees player Robinson Cano. True, the obscene overcompensation of professional athletes has likely been a big contributor to bad behavior by the athletes themselves. But how to explain the Kansas City fans who booed Cano relentlessly, all because they were miffed he hadn't picked a Royal for the Derby?
As the captain of the American League team, Cano had picked Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo for his Derby squad, skipping over Billy Butler, the Royals' lone representative in the All-Star Game. Butler is tied for 16th among AL home run leaders with 16.
The sellout crowd at Kauffman Stadium chanted Butler's name just before Cano came up to hit, then booed the New York Yankees second baseman mercilessly as he failed to hit a ball over the fence, becoming the first Derby contestant to get skunked since Brandon Inge in 2009.
The treatment continued Tuesday night as the Kauffman Stadium crowd booed Cano lustily as he was introduced before the All-Star Game.
Parents are rightly worried about bullying and other bad behavior by young people in schools. At least we know now where they learn it. And there's anecdotal evidence that the younger crowd is actually better at behaving in a sportsmanlike manner than their parents. Go to a junior high school or high school sporting event and watch the adults in the stands, yelling at coaches to try a different strategy (or to use their kid more), or just yelling at the kids themselves. The most gratifying scene, described by a friend who coaches a high school-aged team, was when one of his young players came over to the side of the field and yelled, "Shut up, Dad! to a parent who couldn't just watch the game.
Players suffer game penalties and even monetary fines for breaking the rules or misbehaving. Perhaps it's time fans were held to a similar standard.