What is the deal with St. Louis Cardinals fans turning on the team's players?
I'm having a tough time these days telling if these are actual fans who pay money to see games and who have subsequently learned a little bit about it over the years or if it is self-appointed Internet experts who are looking to make a name for themselves by stirring the pot.
It seems like people are a lot more disgruntled than what is justified by a team that, if the season ended today, would be in the playoffs.
Still, it would seem, from reading the chat pages and the social media sites that St. Louis center fielder Jon Jay ought to be afraid to leave his house with the nasty things people say about him. Why?
Jay isn't a perfect player. But there are no perfect players. And it would seem to me that a guy who was a starting player on two World Series teams including one that won a championship has earned at least a little bit of respect.
But, instead, complainers gripe that he should be replaced by fellow outfielder Peter Bourjos. Nevermind that Jay is batting .294 with a .354 on-base percentage while Bourjos is batting .218 and gets on base at a .295 clip.
Why does Bourjos, acquired in trade just a few months ago, get a break while a veteran Cardinals player doesn't?
Yeah, I concede that Bourjos is a better outfielder. But how many times does the difference in their fielding make the difference in a game? It's not as if Jay is a terrible outfielder. He made a game-saving catch in Cincinnati that ranks up there with any play made by a St. Louis outfielder I have seen so far this year.
Then there's practically a civil war going on between those who think Kolten Wong is the greatest second baseman since sliced bread and those who think he deserves a one-way ticket back to the minors.
It's funny that former manager Tony La Russa was criticized for unwillingness to play young players. But now Cardinals fans who ripped the former skipper can't tolerate rookie mistakes from a talented yet green kid.
Wong makes an occasional baserunning gaffe. But he's holding his own with a .269 average and, since a minor-league wake-up call, he's returned to hit .364 with three doubles and five runs batted in over his last eight games.
What do people expect?
I guess I should have seen it coming. There is still the Matt Holliday Haters Club of St. Louis, the members of which don't care how many runs he drives in as long as they can gripe the five times a season he misses a ball in the outfield.
Whatever happened to good old-fashioned homerism? These days it seems like its the in thing to tear down your hometown team.
Instead of worrying about individual athlete's playing time, fans ought to throw the stats and the arguments out the window. I don't care who gets the winning hit, the winning strikeout or the bulk of facetime in the post-game interview as long as the Cardinals come out on the winning end.
And, if the Redbirds are going to win the National League Central, they're going to need contributions of everyone. They can't keep shuffling players in and out and moving batters around the order to try to get someone hot or to hide players who are under-performing. That's not a winning formula. Teams are best when the bench players are pushing the starters for at bats and innings.