Mr. Boo Bird on My Shoulder

Change is never easy for anyone. As a society we tend to gravitate towards where we are comfortable. When something occurs that wrestles us away from this comfort zone it feels as though are entire world is spinning out of control. For fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks, this season has felt like not only is the world is recklessly spinning but the entire universe is hurdling maniacally towards some vast black hole that will suck everything in and destroy it. Okay maybe that is a bit excessive but considering the events that have transpired during the 2009 season there doesn’t appear to be a lot of things going right.

Baseball fans in Phoenix are an interesting breed. Team loyalty appears to be a direct result to the location of the team in the standings. Part of this may be a result of the Diamondbacks being such a young franchise or it could be a result of the influx of people who have moved to Phoenix and are therefore not native. I wish I had a dollar for every time we sit next to a fan wearing the opposing team’s colors only to find out that they now live in Arizona but grew up rooting for another team and the allegiance has stuck. They of course go on to say that they root for the Diamondbacks whenever they are playing a different team than their favorite. I’m not sure if that is supposed to make me or them feel better knowing that they partially root for the home team.

The loyalty towards a team appears to have a limit in this town though. As long as things are going well these fans are willing to root for them. Once adversity hits though, it is “every man for himself”.

This usually first manifests itself by the casual fan no longer justifying their partial allegiance; instead they tell me that they would love to root for the Diamondbacks but have seen no reason to do so due to the team’s lack of success. The justifications and arguments of how the fans were wronged by management or the team can sometimes be quite comical. After disavowing the team; the next step and the one we seem to find ourselves in more often lately is the vocal displeasure of how the team or manager is performing. I grew up rooting for my team and I stuck with them regardless of how well or how poorly they performed. I celebrated their successes and lamented their failures but did so in a supporting manner. There is always some positive aspect that you can find no matter how badly the game or season is going. Fans here though do not hesitate to break out the jeers and boos the first time something goes wrong.

I’ve noticed since the firing of manager Bob Melvin it has gotten especially bad. If a player does not get on base they are booed. If the throw is slightly off target and a runner advances, they boo. If a coach does not argue with the umpire on a questionable call they boo. About the only thing I haven’t seen them boo yet is the little girl singing the National Anthem. This negativity in the stands is not helping. I am sure the team and management are as frustrated or more so than the average fan so voicing their displeasure is merely stating the obvious and isn’t helping anyone.

The final stage of baseball fans in the area will of course be apathy. This is where the fans realize that their incessant booing and yelling is not having the desired effect on the team and they are not suddenly winning. Rather than sticking with it they choose to walk away. Over this home stand we have already started to see fewer people in the stands. If this trend continues; buy the time the All-Star break arrives there will be very few people remaining. It is too bad because there still are some great story lines to follow both from a local level and by the teams and players who come in to play the Diamondbacks. Hopefully fans will recognize how tenuous winning can be and will stop taking it for granted and instead come out and support the current Diamondbacks players and just enjoy the game. It has been my experience that even the worst baseball game in the world is still better than no baseball at all.

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