Sitting in the stands at Monday’s White Sox game against the Royals had a different feel for me. It was the first game that I was at where Adam Dunn had a meaningful game, and the way the crowd reacted to him was really something special.
I have never been the one to boo Dunn. While I believe that he has greatly underachieved this year, I feel that booing the man would bring no change. I am not against other people booing him though. They paid their money and if they choose to boo any player it is well within their rights as fans. I just feel like the man knows he is struggling, so why pile on more pressure for him. Anyway, after Dunn struck out in his first at bat there was the usual barrage of “boos” and screams of “You are worthless!” I just sat in my seat, shaking my head at yet another strikeout by the Sox big money DH.
His second at-bat was where something different happened. Dunn hits a slow-dropping fly ball to right field that falls in and the crowd gives him a mock standing ovation. Again, I just sit in my seat smiling but still shaking my head, this time at the fans who chose to partake in the mock ovation. It was when I saw Dunn take off his helmet and acknowledge the crowd that I stood up and did give him a standing ovation. To me, this showed so much character by Dunn. I believe he did this with the crowd in the same mocking type fashion and to me this showed that Dunn understands the crowds frustration with him, and he knows he has been a disappointment to everyone, but he still wants to prove to his home crowd that if they stick with him, he will eventually get out of his slump.
Coming up to bat in the bottom of the 5th inning, Dunn got a very loud cheer when he stepped to the plate. While he did not produce a base hit in that at-bat, I heard literally no boos when he grounded out to third base.
Dunn then steps to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Sox down a run and after Brent Morel singled to center of new pitcher Aaron Crow. When the fly ball into right field came off his bat the entire stadium rose to their feet in hopes of seeing a homerun from Dunn. It was such a high hit ball I wasn’t sure if the ball would make it completely over, but when the ball landed just over the fence the crowd erupted with excitement. To me, it felt like with every fan yelling and hoping for the ball to leave the park the cheers willed the ball way out. Paul Konerko came up next with everyone still on their feet wanting Dunn to come out for a curtain call. Konerko knew of this and even left the box allowing Dunn to give the fans what they wanted and come out on the dugout steps to raise his helmet, this time for the true ovation the White Sox fans were giving him. The park was just electric after that homerun. Finally, Sox fans got what they wanted when the Sox signed Dunn: a meaningful homerun to take a lead in the late innings of a game.
After the drama filled 9th with Santos blowing the save and the Sox winning in wild fashion with Crow’s balk, Dunn was interviewed by Comcast SportsNet and the feed was shown on the giant screen in center. When the 31,000+ saw Adam Dunn’s smiling face talking, the place erupted yet again for him. Was this the turning point for Dunn this season? Did he finally have the Sox fans back on his side? With so much frustration this season it felt like a collective sigh of relief from the Sox fan base. At that time, all of the booing that took place didn’t matter to them, they knew Adam Dunn was a big reason the White Sox won that night.
Obviously Adam Dunn is just as upset at himself, if not more, than any fan because he knows that he can be doing better. He knows that while the fans boo him, they just want him to succeed because when he does the Sox will win more often then not. I really hope that this game will be the turning point for Sox fans. I hope that this performance by Dunn will help shoo away the boo birds for a little while, enough for Dunn to hopefully jump start his 2011.
It’s still something that needs to be seen, but it really doesn’t help that the next night Dunn goes 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. Watching the game tonight I heard the same boos after the strikeouts that I have been hearing all year. The truth of it is that fans will probably never be happy with Dunn because, this year, he is not the 40 homerun and 100 RBI player that baseball fans have seen over the past 8 seasons. Again, Sox fans have every right to boo Dunn. I just hope that there are more games from the fans like I saw on that Monday night then what I usually hear.