Pittsburgh Pirates’ fans weren’t happy, and like any good fan base, they booed to express their unhappiness. On Friday night, those boos rained down hard in the direction of New York Mets third baseman David Wright for the slightest of injustices.
With New York playing host to the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, Wright and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano were chosen as captains of their respected leagues for the Home Run Derby, and were allowed to choose the participants that would join them.
When Wright didn’t choose Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez, Pirate fans were infuriated, and decided to boo Wright as if he were a common criminal or had somehow disgraced the game of baseball.
Granted, this is a rare year when Pittsburgh fans actually have something to get excited about regarding the All-Star break, but their reaction was over exaggerated and out of line. The Home Run Derby is nothing more than an exhibition, as unlike the All-Star Game, there are no rewards for the winning team and no consequences for the losing team.
It’s something that’s meant to be fun and entertaining, and despite being upset that Alvarez wasn’t picked, there’s no reason to treat Wright, one of the truly good guys in baseball, with such strong disdain.
Wright didn’t ask to choose the Home Run Derby team; the task was given to him. He was kind enough to be honest about why he chose the players he did: Carlos Gonzalez because he leads the NL in home runs, Bryce Harper because the fans wanted him, and Michael Cuddyer because they’re good friends.
Choosing Cuddyer is obviously nepotism, but Wright was given the right to choose whom he wanted for whatever reason he wanted, and he was forthcoming about choosing Cuddyer because they’ve been friends since they were kids and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially for a meaningless exhibition.
To make the actions of the Pittsburgh fans even more egregious, Alvarez had already been named as the replacement for the injured Gonzalez before Wright stepped in the batter’s box Friday night, and he was still booed in each of his plate appearances. It was a classless move and doesn’t portray Pirates’ fans in a positive light, as apparently the city of Pittsburgh doesn’t believe that all is well that ends well.
The worst part of this is that Pirates’ announcers were the ones encouraging fans to boo Wright and “let him have it”. It’s obviously hard to be an unbiased announcer these days with the teams being their employees, but they should show some professionalism. It’s not the job of an announcer to rile up a fan base and create a mob mentality directed against a visiting player.
Those announcers were way out of bounds and took things way too way too far — they should know better.
Wright was stuck between a rock and a hard place by not picking Alvarez and several other players that were just as deserving of a spot in the Home Run Derby. In the end, Alvarez will participate in the Home Run Derby, and one week later no one will remember or care who won it.
Pirates’ fans made their point by booing right on Friday night, and now it’s time to chill out and return to normalcy.