May 13, 2009

Burnett bombarded by boos

In last night's loss to the Blue Jays, A.J. Burnett was welcomed by his old team to a chorus of boos.  Not only was this disrespectful, but also a major sign of un-classiness.

Burnett did nothing wrong in his career with the Blue Jays, but still heard plenty of boos.  He even led the league in strikeouts last year.  Somebody like Carl Pavano deserves to get booed by his former team - a player who failed the team miserably and had high expectations.

After his career year last season, everybody knew he wasn’t coming back to Toronto.  However, since Burnett chose New York, he has to listen to his old team boo him for no good reason.  As John Sterling pointed out in yesterday’s broadcast, if Burnett had signed with any other team, he would receive cheers rather than jeers from the Jays.

The fans booing proves just how disconnected they were from the game.  There is no way that Burnett and his former teacher Roy Halladay had bad blood with each other after their great connection in Toronto for three years.

The Blue Jays booing is completely unwarranted.  After all, they’re in first place!  Maybe him leaving was the key to their success.  They’ve found plenty of young arms that have led them to their strong beginning, including tonight’s probable pitcher: Scott Richmond.


Captain Guyliner said...

I am a Blue Jay fan, I attended last night's game and I disagree with your analysis.

AJ Burnett was not booed simply because he went to the Yankees. He was booed for the following reasons (in no particular order):

1) Toronto suffered Burnett's injury woes through 3 years of a 5 year deal. In the first two injury-riddled years, the name Burnett could often be found in the same sentence as "Sirotka" for Toronto fans. Leaving after he had his first small measure of major league success should not be looked upon favourably by fans of any team. It has not been in Toronto and he got booed.

2) Burnett had a tumultuous relationship with Toronto fans while he was here. I attended a game last season where Burnett imploded and the fans starting booing him off the mound. Burnett responded by mock tipping his hat to the crowd. Toronto and Burnett were never bonkers for one another and it's no surprise he got booed.

3) Burnett opted out of his contract and chose to leave Toronto. Some fans feel their city was spurned for the brighter lights and bigger city of NY. Moreover, he left for a division rival. Review this post if Jeter, Melky, or Joba leaves for Boston. Burnett jilted the city of Toronto for one of its division rivals.

4) John Sterling is dead wrong. Toronto fans boo almost every returning Blue Jay. One of the franchise faces, Gregg Zaun, signed with Baltimore as a UFA after the Jays refused to offer him a new contract. He was still booed when he came back. Make of that what you will, but Sterling is out of his mind if he thinks Toronto singled out Burnett solely for his newfound allegiance to the Yankees. Burnett is an ex-Jay and he got booed like they always do.

5) Burnett fits your Pavano profile. He was signed as a hot shot out of Florida who was to bring big name, big salary success to the Jays. The Jays added a new pitching and new bullpen coach to cater to Burnett. The franchise made a serious commitment and fans had high expectations. Burnett didn't even begin to deliver on those high hopes until his contract year. His departure leaves a bad taste and he got booed as a result.

In summary, I take issue with your suggestions that Toronto fans are "disconnected" from the game and their response to Burnett's return was "disrespectful", "unwarranted", or "un-classy."

Burnett got the same treatment every ex-Jay and every ex-player receives when they return to a former team after failing to live up to expectations and choosing to leave.

Over and above all of that, the last time I checked, booing the opposition was never considered "disrespectful", "unwarranted", or "un-classy" in the realm of Major League Baseball. Being the opposition is reason enough.

I look forward to your end of season post about Burnett's value and performance to the Yankees. At this rate, you should be able to start working on it sometime after the all-star break.

Ryan said...

Hear, hear, Captain Guyliner.

Joe said...

I was at the game as well, and I agree with the Captain's reasoning part of the impetus for last night was the fact that nobody liked him that much when he was here. Putting up career numbers during a contract year and jumping ship just added to the sour taste.

I'll agree that booing Zaun was offside. He had no choice in leaving Toronto, and was always a fan favorite while he was here.

Lenny, hope you enjoy the 12 wins a year AJ gives you. Money well spent.

rob said...

I'm a toronto fan and I have nothing against the yanks, yes they are division rivals, they have a pretty good team when healthy, heck even when not healthy, my only problem for booing him last night (yes i was at the fame... was because he tipped his hat to a homecrowd back in mid last year when he was booed off the field for pitching us a terrible are unclassy?? Yea ass....
.... burnett is unclassy.... unfortunately new york fans will know soon enough.

Rob said...

edit: change fame to game...

Stedron said...

These guys all nailed it, and there's really no need for me to comment, other than to further confirm everything said above.

You couldn't possibly have been more off-base.

Lenny Neslin said...

Captain Guyliner,

I see your claims, and now I will respond to each:

1) The Yankees and the Jays knew what they were getting when they signed him. Burnett suffered countless injuries with the Marlins. Just because he pitched great in his contract year, doesn't mean Blue Jay fans should expect him to be healthy with that awful injury history.

2) I was unaware of his ugly incident with the fans. If it was as bad as you say it was, doesn’t this warrant him leaving Toronto? The fans don’t like him, and he doesn’t like the fans… I can see now why Jays fans booed him last night, but I still disagree with your other reasons. I wrote this post because I am a believer that a team’s fans should never boo its own players at home. When A-Rod was booed during his slump a couple years ago, I’m sure the booing helped him break out of the slump…

3) Not only did he have reason to leave Toronto because of his relationship with the fans, he also might have been tired of sitting in third and fourth place every year. If you were in his position, would you have taken the money, or stayed loyal to a city that hates you?

4) You said, “Toronto fans boo almost every returning Blue Jay.” When I said that Toronto fans were un-classy for booing, this is one example of what I was referring to. Players’ moving team to team is strictly business. And in Burnett’s case, he certainly wanted out of Toronto.

5) I don’t see how fans should have such high expectations for a player who has been on the DL more than on the field. I think Toronto knew they were making a risky move, and so did the Yankees. Pavano to the Yanks is not the same case as Burnett to the Jays. Pavano didn’t have nearly the injury history that Burnett had. The Yankees went after Pavano because he beat them in the world series, and had two straight strong seasons.

When I called Blue Jay fans disconnected from the team, don’t you think it is a little weird that he is liked by his teammates but not by his fans? That’s all I meant by “disconnected,” even though it is a harsh word.

Your arguments contradict at times because you said he was booed last night because you and the rest of the fans had a personal bout with him (a signal that Burnett is unwanted in Toronto). But then, fans were also booing him because they were mad at him for leaving and opting out of his contract.

Overall, it seems you did have reason to boo Burnett because of a specific feud between Burnett and the fans, but you may also have been booing for wrong reasons.

By the way, the team is in first place, and you still boo the opposition. Start acting like winners!

Anonymous said...

Hey bud, your fans booed a-rod when he was putting up 35HR and 120 RBI years. We booed him when he was giving up 8 runs in 5 innings every couple games. Totally different.

Anonymous said...

Our booing helped to rattle him and keep us in 1st place. Don't you want the Jays to stay in first so you have SOMETHING to make fun of the Red Sox about when you're looking up from 4th place?

Unknown said...

We will boo relentlessly, and the Evil Empire will just have to deal with it. Fifteen years of frustration are about to be exorcised.

Lenny Neslin said...

Hey Anonymous #1, did you read my last comment? I said that a team’s fans should never boo its own players at home. I was not one of those fans booing him, and I don't think the Yankees should have booed A-Rod.

Lenny Neslin said...

Misunderstood, again. Think of it this way, I, a Yankee fan, would never boo Robinson Cano at Yankee Stadium. Jays fans can boo A.J. now that he is on another team, but the entire point of what I've been saying is you only have one good reason to boo (because there is a personal feud that I was unaware of).

Anonymous said...

I booed AJ for some of the reasons Captain Guyliner listed, but mostly, I booed to help pump up the Jays and to have some fun.

It was a big game, and any passion and excitement that the Toronto fans could show would only help out our cause on the field.

Getting 43,000 fans at the Skydome doesn't happen too often in a season. So, when it does, it's great to see and great to be a part of - if that means booing AJ mercilessly, so be it. Oh, and it's always fun and always deserved to boo A-Roids.

I, also, don't think every ex-Jay gets booed. I'm pretty sure when Carlos Delgado returned he got a greatly deserved ovation. Zaun did not deserve to get booed. If Halladay leaves and then gets booed, we truly will have the most idiotic fans.

I think AJ would have been booed even if he signed elsewhere. Maybe the Yankees don't see Toronto as a division rival the way we see the Yankees. When you're trying to compete year after year in a division that has the two highest payrolls in baseball, it gets pretty frustrating.

I'm sure Halladay and AJ will continue to be pals - I don't expect a player to have to disown a friend because the fans have a beef with him. Just as we shouldn't have to be nice to a player because he is a friend of a player we do like.

You do raise a good point - AJ leaving has opened the door to some younger guys and could be a large part of the Jays' early success.

Also, I generally agree, that booing a player on the home team isn't called for. But, some guys just deserve it - re: Miguel Batista.

I generally show my support for the Jays by just cheering them on, but when warranted, I will boo opposing teams and players. If A-Roids wasn't a Yankee, you'd boo him too. :)


p.s Nice to see a pretty civil discussion!

Captain Guyliner said...


I don't think anyone is surprised that a player's reputation or image varies between the clubhouse and the stands. Players stick with players. Fanswill say what they want. As a Yankee fan, I'm sure you are familiar with this concept. Toronto fans are no more "disconnected" than Yankee fans.

As far as my reasons contradicting, I think you will find fans will identify with any one of the items I listed. They aren't meant to compliment or follow logically from each other. Fans have different reasons for booing a player. This is a point you and John Sterling ignored in your analysis.

I can't identify any one of my reasons that is "disrespectful" or "un-classy."

Your response to my reasons seems to be:

1) Toronto fans shouldn't have had high expectations for Burnett.

- What a pity Toronto fans weren't advised of Burnett's velcro shoulder and contract year ambitions at the press conference.

2) Toronto fans are ignorant of the business aspects of baseball, and well, act like fans.

- Business or Baseball: guess which is more fun? I think you're in the minority of Yankee fans who stopped booing teams between 1996-1998. Good show, old sport. I will try to advise my fellow fans of the correct behaviour for fans of a winning club. Do you mind if I print this?

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