By now, it has been well documented that former closer Jim Johnson has been a huge bust thus far for the Oakland Athletics. It seemed like quite the acquisition in the offseason. A huge $10 million, 1 year deal for the man who led the league in the saves over the past 2 seasons. It hasn’t worked out too well however, as Johnson lost the closer role only a week into the season after costing the Athletics victories.
But you knew that though. You probably already know that the Oakland Athletics fans are hurting their relationship with the team by booing one of their own in Jim Johnson, almost every time he’s pitched at the O.Co.
His teammates came to his defense, standing by him through his struggles. New closer Sean Doolittle, future All-Star Josh Donaldson, and surprise breakout player Derek Norris have all spoken about how they dislike the booing. They don’t like the way the fans are reacting, and this is a first for this group of guys.
I can see both sides of this argument. Fans are disappointed. They were promised a top notch closer. For $10 million a year, fans have a right to be upset with his lack of success. The Athletics could have a better record than the San Francisco Giants, who have the best record in all of baseball. Even with Johnson’s struggles, the Athletics only trail them by one game. Had Johnson been able to pitch well and prevent a couple of his bad outings, the Athletics would be ahead.
The frustrations are understandable, but they aren’t helping.
The side of the argument that I agree with is that of Sean Doolittle and Josh Donaldson: the fans shouldn’t boo Johnson.
I have seen many comment sections, and everyone is angry with Johnson. Things like “he doesn’t want to get booed, he should produce!” have been said. How can he produce when his own team’s fans are all booing him?
There are 3 main points as to why I believe he should not be booed.
1. Other Players Have Struggled, and Not Been Booed.
Remember Josh Reddick last year? Yoenis Cespedes? These guys struggled in 2013 big time, and Reddick continues to struggle at the plate in 2014. So why not boo them? They struggled all season long. They may have had good defensive plays, but with the logic of Johnson’s boo birds, a player who struggles and doesn’t produce should be booed. That is simply not the case. Players struggle. If they continue to struggle, then they should be sent down to Triple A to work out their issues. That’s what I believed should have happened with Johnson.
Dan Straily struggled, but he wasn’t booed. He was sent down to work out his issues. Donaldson struggled at first when he came up in 2012, and was sent down. Look at what happened when he came back. Now he’s going to be an All-Star. So why not give Johnson that same respect? He may struggle and it is very frustrating, but…
2. Booing Only Makes It Worse
Put yourself in Johnson’s shoes. You are a struggling pitcher, you just moved to a new team after spending your entire career with one club. You hear all these things about how great the fans are. Then you go out there, and they boo you. He played it off after the first game, and said he would have booed himself too, but that’s just him being a nice guy.
Do you really think hearing the Coliseum crowd booing you is going to give you the boost you need to close a game? It doesn’t. At home he has an ERA over 14. On the road it’s under 2. I believe there is some kind of correlation there. Such a high ERA in one of the largest ball parks in the majors? Pitchers strive here in Oakland. So why is a guy who has proven to have a good track record of success doing so bad in Oakland? Because he has been booed since day one.
You always hear the players in Oakland say how the crowd cheering them on is a huge boost. So wouldn’t booing do just the opposite? If you want the guy to produce, show some support. Don’t kick him while he’s down.
3. It Ruins the Oakland Athletics’ Fan’s Image
Oakland has always been praised as a place where the fans are the best. The most passionate. They may not be huge in numbers, but those who are there make sure their presence is known. The Oakland Athletics’ fans were class act fans. The players always boasted to the new guys, like Johnson, that they have the best fans at home.
The boo birds have tarnished that image and have made liars out of our beloved players. Oakland Fans aren’t the kind of fans that boo their own kind. They are fans that always cheer for their team, no matter what. The boo birds’ frustrations are understandable, but they have ruined and soiled the Oakland fan’s reputation.
What do we do from here? Can it be repaired? Can we show our players and the rest of the world that Oakland does indeed have the best fans? Well unfortunately, it may be too late.
It has been reported that Johnson is being used as trade bait. The Athletics have even offered to eat up the rest of his contract. He may be gone before the Oakland Athletics go back home to their fans.
If Johnson makes it back, let’s make it up to Jim Johnson. Let’s get a movement going. Let’s show the world why Oakland fans are the best. Use #CheerForJohnson to show support and spread the word. He may not be doing well, and I may have called for his demotion (which I stand by), but let’s show Johnson we are the best. It may sound ridiculous, and I may be heavily criticized, but I hate to think that a player will leave Oakland without experiencing the true fans. The ones that stick by their team through thick and thin. If you agree, spread the word with #CheerForJohnson.