Sunday, August 02, 2015

Types of Fan Anger

Hearing the Baseball Tonight crew spend 10 minutes taking down the Padres for not managing to sell any of their players at the trade deadline, I was wondering why this was such a big deal, and got thinking of why this, and other things get fans upset.

What follows is a rough hierarchy of what gets fans upset.

  • Physical Error 
    Example: Bill Buckner in the 1986 World Series
    This is typically fleeting, especially as more sophisticated fans tend to blame management rather than players, as evidenced by my having to go back almost 30 years for a memorable example. Nobody here in Seattle blames Russell Wilson for throwing the interception that ended the Super Bowl, they blame the coaches for calling a pass. (Winning the previous Super Bowl helps).  Lots more buzzer beaters are missed than made, but nobody remembers them.  For all the talk of how awful Philly fans are, Mitch Williams has been a local celebrity there for years.
  • Mental Error
    Example: GB special teamer trying to field onside kick rather than blocking and allowing Jordy Nelson to field it.
    These might sting a little more. We probably couldn't hit a buzzer-beater or a 47 yard field goal, or field a hard-hit grounder down the line, but we'd probably know enough to take a strike when leading off and trailing, or to shoot a 3 when down by 3 with time running out.
    Steve Bartman is a special case for this, since it was a mental error by an actual fan.
  • Lack of Hustle/Courage
    Example: Receiver pulling up short on a pass over the middle
    This allows us to indulge the notion that if we were there, we'd do better.
  • The Bad/Questionable Call
    Example: Dez Bryant's apparent catch being overturned in the playoff game in Green Bay
    These just make you feel helpless, since the game seems to be taken out of the hands of the players and coaches. And replay technology allows us focus on them.
  • Coaching Blunder / Bad Clock Management
    Example: Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS
    As sports fans move from the players' perspective to the coach/GM's perspective, these loom larger. We imagine our team would have surely won if they pursued our preferred strategy.
  • Bad Trade
    Example: See here
    These can haunt you for years, especially as the traded away player continues to produce for his new team.  As a 76er fan, I've been on the wrong end of almost every kind of bad trade, and it always sucks. The wrong trade can turn a promising team into a laughingstock. (I'm looking at you, Andrew Bynum).
  • The Non-Trade
    Example: Padres above
    For the past couple deadlines, my Phillies played the role of the Padres -- the team with no chance to win but tradeable assets that stands pat at the deadline. Rooting for a disappointing team is tough. The one ray is that maybe this can make for a brighter future. It's tough to see that go away.
    The other side is the possible contender that is missing a piece but stands pat. Don't these guys want to win?
  • Injuries
    Examples: Everywhere
    Injuries are a part of the game. This is the required opening line from the coach or manager in response to every injury. Usually it's hard to get made, unless there is some malaevolence/dirty play from an opponent involved, or some carelessness on somebody's part (Paul George and USA Basketball). But generally, you just have to take it.
  • Suspensions
    Example: Deflategate
    Here, not only do you lose a player, but your team gets the stigma of cheaters. If the commissioner is an easy a target as Roger Goodell, then there can be no end to the rage.