Max Scherzer claims that the Baltimore Orioles fans in his home ballpark "ticked him off." Should MLB players be calling out opposing fans in that manner?
Washington's Max Scherzer is one of the premier pitchers in baseball, as evidenced by his effort against the Baltimore Orioles last night. Anyone who's a fan of and appreciates pitching such as myself is remiss if they don't say that. He shut down one of the best lineups in baseball last night, and he's done it to many others all season long.
However Scherzer said something after the game that made me question his character -- just a bit. That might be a bit harsh, because it does seem that he's a good guy and very community-minded. He seems to "get" the fact that by virtue of who he is there's an obligation to be one of the faces of Washington's team out and about in the community. And that's a good thing.
However after the game he had this to say about the crowd (quote courtesy of Mark Zuckerman, MASNsports):
How many Orioles fans attended one of the games in Washington is unclear. Were they ever a majority in the stands? No, not in my opinion -- and I covered both games. But was there a huge presence of orange in the stands? Without a doubt.
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Now in fairness, one can't blame Scherzer for noticing the crowd and being miffed at the situation. As any longtime Oriole will tell you, the same has happened (and used to happen much more frequently) when Boston and New York would come to Camden Yards. However you never saw the Orioles getting angry in public over that, or chirping off to reporters as such. (And if one or two ever did over the years, they were wrong to do so.) As professionals, they just grinned and bore it.
And the fact is that no player's paycheck is affected by how many opposing fans are in the stands. So does it really make sense to address it? First off, Washington fans had the exact same opportunity to hit up their team in the region on the road as Orioles fans -- and some of them did. I suspect that Scherzer probably didn't have much of a problem with that. However the expectation on his part appeared to be that Orioles fans would just sit there without nary a peep.
Again folks, I get it from his perspective. I wouldn't be happy about hearing so many people rooting for me to fail and for my competition to succeed in my own home ballpark. My thoughts would probably be exactly the same as what he said his were. But as a professional I wouldn't be inclined to comment on it publicly after the game. And again, it really shouldn't make a lick of difference to him who's rooting for whom and when -- it doesn't affect his bottom line.
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Furthermore, could that not have been a backhanded dig at the hometown fans also? Because the implication of any influx en masse of opposing fans is that the hometown fans didn't want to buy the tickets. Both of those games were supposedly sellouts, furthermore it stands to reason that all of those Orioles fans wouldn't have been there had the Orioles not been in town. So the crowds would have been smaller had that been any run-of-the-mill opponent.
With this all said, the crowds were incredibly well-behaved together during all four games in both cities. It wasn't as if the Orioles fans were chanting obscenities, they were yelling Let's Go O's! That's about as benign as it gets. Had people been rude and crude screaming obscenities, I might understand it. But that wasn't the case.
Again, Scherzer seems like a decent fellow who's just trying to win games. I don't think his intention was to start a tet-a-tet with anyone, however the optics of a player in essence calling out paying customers isn't what MLB wants. And furthermore, I very much suspect that had the shoe been on the other foot Scherzer would have had no problem with his fans packing Oriole Park and rooting their heads off.
Bottom line: honesty isn't always the best policy. Sometimes it's better to just keep things close to the vest. Had he said something along the lines of it really felt good to go out there and retire the side, he gets his message across and he avoids calling anyone out in the manner that he did. Instead, he basically told Orioles fans not to cheer. Granted what he did on the field basically told them that (for this one game), but he then had to go and say it. Not exactly the type of decorum one would expect from their ace.
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