This week in Hok Talk we go over the etiquette of booing and briefly discuss how the young pitching has progressed this season.
If you saw the headline and then you checked the byline and you’re familiar with my writing you probably started scratching your head, “Hokius says it’s OK to be mean to players?” you might think to yourself and the answer is...yeah. Booing is fine.
I’m the guy who wrote two lengthy articles about respecting athletes’ mental health. But even as I noted in those pieces, there’s a difference between what an athlete must deal with in a press conference vs heckling they might receive as they compete. The latter is less personal and doesn’t require the athlete to engage with it. Boos aren’t an exclusively negative experience for players, either. Many a player has discussed feeling energized by the boos of opposing fans.
What about booing home team players as happened with the New York Mets this (and many other) week? Should that really be allowed? Absolutely! Fans are encouraged to cheer for good and/or exciting plays. There’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t feel welcome to boo plays which they do not enjoy. I’m sure that home players do not enjoy the experience but this is one of those situations where just because they don’t like it I see no reason to not do it.
There are a couple of exceptions, but I think most reasonable people can agree to them. I think when booing the home town team we should restrain ourselves to booing plays rather than players. Regardless of which team a player plays for we should not make personal insults. There’s no reason to be any more offensive with a pro baseball player than any other man on the street we might meet. Manners still matter.
Of course, I also think the players should feel free to respond to those boos, as well. Neither Francisco Lindor nor Javy Baez did anything wrong with their thumbs down gesture. This falls into the same category as bat flips and other expressions of personality on the field. Let the guys play the game and let them be human. It’s only reasonable and it’s only fair.
The Royals are suddenly flush with young, successful pitchers
If pitching is the currency of baseball the Royals might just be one of the wealthiest teams in the sport. Brad Keller, Daniel Lynch, Carlos Hernández, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, and Brady Singer have all experienced some level of success in the major leagues, now. They’ve still got Jonathon Bowlan, Asa Lacy, Ronald Bolaños, Daniel Tillo, Alec Marsh and others in the upper minor leagues or injury list who seem likely to make a big impact on the future. Remember when Yordano Ventura was the best young Royals pitcher despite carrying an ERA over 4? Brady Singer might be the closest pitcher in term of results and there’s a non-zero chance he’s not in the opening day starting rotation next year given all the other successful young arms in the system.
We have long criticized the Royals for their awful player development. It remains to be seen whether the shifts they’ve made with the hitters will completely pay off. The changes with the pitching have definitely paid off, however, and the team has earned kudos for making positive changes there. I’m still not sold on Cal Eldred and I have a hard time seeing how he had anything to do with the success of these pitchers. The organization, and especially the pitching coaches at AAA, have done a phenomenal job at getting these guys ready to pitch and succeed at the big league level. The Royals will probably have to trade several of these guys in order to get some hitters if they want to compete in 2022 but that’s what “being the currency of baseball” is all about. Even after the Royals made such a trade they should still have more than enough starters to fill out their rotation and even to send some guys who would make other big league rotations to pitch out of the bullpen or get more seasoning at AAA. They are in a very enviable position.