The Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers, using Opening Day to invoke the name of Mel Rojas.
Although the fans still are coming out in droves to watch the Cubs, the booing and harassment of players such as Corey Patterson and Jacque Jones have contributed to the “tough” atmosphere to which Pierre was referring, which raises the question:
Has the fans’ impatience begun to hurt the team as they vent their frustration on struggling players?
“I have no problem with fans being impatient,” first baseman Derrek Lee said. “I like it. I like the sense of urgency. I don’t like how they treated Jacque, throwing [a ball] at him and the racist comments. That’s uncalled for.
“I don’t mind the fans being impatient over winning. I think we need that as a team. We need the urgency. We feel like, ‘Let’s get it done or they’re going to be on us.’ I like that part of it.”
The booing of Patterson became so vicious that the Cubs decided he would be better off in new surroundings, so they sent him to Baltimore after the ’05 season for low-level prospects despite his youth and untapped potential.
Manager Dusty Baker said last summer the Cubs were reluctant to call up Felix Pie because if the young prospect struggled he might be exposed to the same kind of treatment Patterson received.
Several Cubs have been booed over the last decade, from Mel Rojas to Todd Hundley to LaTroy Hawkins to Patterson and Jones. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild was even booed at the Cubs Convention in January. It seems every team has to have one guy who bears the brunt of fan criticism.
“You have to look at the whole scheme of things,” reliever Scott Eyre said. “It’s the fans’ right, I guess, to make signs or to boo. But it’s pretty bad when you’re picking on a guy who’s having a good year, and I believe Jacque had a good year.
“That’s their right. Do we think it’s right? No. I’m not going to go to their workplace and yell at them. But they’re out there every day and night, so it’s hard to say they shouldn’t do that, because they’re there.”
There’s no chance whatsoever the Cubs’ reluctance to promote Pie had anything to do with the 22 year old striking out 126 times in 559 at bats last season.