The Ethics of Booing, Now With David Wright

Wright hears boos despite solid numbers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The Mets winning streak came to an end after two games on Wednesday night and Mets fans voiced their displeasure with that state of affairs in the sixth inning. David Wright struck out and felt the wrath of a crowd that had quickly become accustomed to living the high life of a winner.

    It was a bit odd to hear Wright get singled out for scorn. After all, he'd been stranded on base in each of his first two at-bats and it was Oliver Perez who'd given up two run-scoring hits to Alfonso Soriano, a player who hasn't been mistaken for a star all that often this season. Wright had made an error earlier in the game and his batting average doesn't look so hot on the scoreboard, but he's hardly the biggest problem with the Mets and certainly wasn't the reason they were heading for defeat at the hands of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.

    The boos came all the same, however, and that's elicited a round of head-shaking from Filip Bondy of the Daily News. It's funny that a writer from one of New York's tabloids would find the behavior so offensive. The habit of blaming a team's best player for struggles that reach far beyond their own recent performances often finds a home on our local back pages. It isn't that surprising that their readership would engage in the same practice when they're out at the ballpark.

    That said, Bondy makes a strong argument for Wright. His batting average may read .240, but he's getting on base at a .457 clip, leads the team with six stolen bases and has the best OPS on the team at 917. It might be frustrating that he isn't driving in more runs, but it bears noting that he's had a grand total of 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position and that he's getting stranded a lot more often than he's leaving ducks on the pond. In short, he's not the problem.

    So the fans must be the problem, right? That's a little too simplistic. In hopes of avoiding a long rant about the cost of attending a game and the attendant desire for immediate gratification, we'll simply say that the people who are at the stadium pay the bills and have every right to express themselves in whatever manner they see fit.

    It would be swell if they took a more sophisticated view of the game, but that's a pipe dream. After all, baseball's national broadcasters still think batting average and RBIs are the best way to judge a player's productivity. Booing isn't rational analysis borne of data, it's an emotional reaction to what's going on in front of you. That doesn't make it right or wrong and, in this case, it isn't even about Wright. It's about being 6-9 with little reason to believe things are getting better.

    Wright will be judged by what he does over the course of the entire season. So will the Mets. The former should leave Wright in good standing but the latter is probably going to keep being a thorn in his side.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.