Jimmy Rollins called Phillies fans frontrunners last night on Best Damn Sports Show Period.
Yeah, Phillies fans kind of took offense to that.
"They're frontrunners," Rollins said. "When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you. For example, Ryan (Howard) is from St. Louis. St. Louis, it seems like they support their team. They're encouraging."
It's an interesting topic, and I actually see both sides because I'm one of the few people who interacts with both parties.
First, Phillies fans have every right to boo. They've been through hell (and whatever sub-level and sub-sub-level there is to hell). They've witnessed one world championship in 125 years. They've seen years of bad baseball, bad trades and bad decisions. But they still pack the ballpark. They still watch on TV. They still buy jerseys, foam fingers and Phillies Christmas ornaments. They still fly to Clearwater, Fla., every spring. They still fly to balllparks across the country to watch their team play. They still support a team that has lost more games than any other team in professional sports history. But they're fans, and fans get emotional. They're not booing because they want the Phillies to fail. They're booing because they very, very badly want the Phillies to be what they always hope they can be.
It's just that most players don't see it that way. They're not from here. They weren't around for 1964. They weren't around for Black Friday or Game 6 in Toronto. They don't care about Ed Wade's inactivity at the trade deadline or busts like Andy Ashby and Lance Parrish or Bill Giles calling Philadelphia a small market team. They weren't around for those things. They don't know about those things. They don't care about those things. They're just trying to win today. They just know that their fans are booing Pat Burrell and Mike Lieberthal during Opening Day introductions in 2006. They just know they're booing Ryan Howard, who leads the league in home runs and RBIs and won NL MVP honors two years ago. They just know they're booing Tom Gordon before he throws a pitch. They just know they're in first place in the National League East, and they're getting booed at home even when they're winning.
They hear those boos and they're like, "What the hell?"
Fans hear Rollins' remarks and they're like, "What the hell?"
Ironically, Rollins is one of the players least affected by the boos. Other players wilt in Philadelphia. Rollins hasn't wilted one bit. But yesterday's uproar -- hey, I'm in LA, I only know it's a "big deal" because everybody back home tells me it's a big deal -- only illustrated the differences between fans who grew up in Philadelphia and the players who grew up elsewhere but play here.
I don't see those differences changing anytime soon.