Living in Vermont, I do not get much opportunity to listen to Sports Talk Radio. For the most part, we are exposed to a choice between Country, Top 40, Easy Listening, or NPR.
Yeah, you envy me a lot donít you?
Anyway, because I was tasked with spending most of my day in the car today, driving from Vermont to Rhode Island and back in the span of my normal workday, I had ample opportunity to listen to Sports Talk Radio today; WEEI in particular. And of all the days to do so, with the unveiling of the Freeh Report on the Sandusky cover-up at Penn State, today was a great day to do so. Needless to say, I heard a good 6 hours of debate and comments about statue removal, library name changes, death penalties for the Penn State football program, and other fit penalties for the school and those involved, up to an including digging Joe up and defecating the corpse.
And while I could easily populate this post with 1000 words of my own on the subject and my feelings toward the men involved, I feel it would be better served by more gifted ranters (like Beeze or B.o.B) that would do it much more justice with the words that truly need to be printed on such a matter.
Instead, I am going to discuss an interesting topic that came up as sort of a side bar in the conversation. And I promised Iíll still be tying it into baseball.
By now, there has been much conversation in regards to Ray Allen and his choice to spurn more money from the Celtics and instead jump ship, signing with the enemy Miami Heat. The talking heads were debating whether or not Celtics fans should boo Allen when he returns to The Garden as a member of the Heat.
Both sides presented solid cases, with one stating that they shouldnít, due to the years of professional service that Allen gave the Celtics. Regardless of where he went, he gave the Celtics 5 years of the highest professionalism, including a championship.
The other said they should. The reasons behind this were not simply because he joined the Heat in order to win another championship rather than try to push the Celtics over the hump one last time. No, they had to do more with the fact that Allen fed the team lines like he felt he was disrespected by trade rumors the season prior, that he had issues playing with Rajon Rondo, and my personal favorite, that he could play golf year-round in Miami.
Now, as a baseball fan and the Red Sox in particular, Iíve been presented with a few of these situations in the past several years.
Letís start with Johnny Damon. Damon is constantly booed in Boston because he left for the hated Yankees for more money. But I canít fault Damon for going to New York. He wanted to stay in Boston and gave them the chance to match New Yorkís offer, but the Red Sox were almost half of what the Yankees were offering. In the end, the Red Sox didnít want Damon back and he went to the team that did. I cannot boo a player for that.
Then you have the recent case of Jonathan Papelbon. Signing with the Phillies last offseason, Papelbon didnít jump ship to a bitter rival. However, he had begun setting the stage for his departure for years prior, saying he would string out salary arbitration from year-to-year so that when he became a free agent, he would in turn be setting the market for closers for years to come. When free agency opened last winter, Papelbon signed with the Phillies within a day. He flew the coop before Boston could even send him an offer and didnít even consider returning to the Red Sox. Even that I can get. He obviously wasnít happy in Boston or with the current state of the locker room, so he looked for what he thought was a better situation.
However, in parting with the team, Papelbon made comments about the team, throwing people under the bus behind him. Then he went as far as to insult the Red Sox fan base by saying the following:
"The difference, I would say, between Boston and Philadelphia, is that, you know, I think that the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball. I'd say the Philly fans, I think they tend to know the game a little bit better, being in the National League, the way the game is played."
Maybe I take that a little out of context, but to me he was insulting the fan base that made him as popular as he was. The same fan base that cheered him dancing like a buffoon with an empty Bud Light box on his head after the 2007 ALCS. To me, you boo a guy like that.
So that brings me to Allen. Iím torn there. Do you punish a guy because he couldnít be forthright and say that he was chasing a championship with what he felt was a sure thing? Do you hold it against him that he took less money to change his situation? Or do you remember what he did for you on the court and applaud him for that?
This is where you, the readers, come into the discussion. How do you treat a player that leaves town? What if they turned coat and went to a bitter rival? Do you base it on how he went out?