It doesn’t matter if you’re the best player on your team, or the worst: treating fans badly will make people lose respect for you faster than Chris Sale striking out the side. So if Ian Kinsler said what it looks like he did to fans at Petco Park last night, he falls into that category.
If you weren’t watching the Padres game (I wasn’t either), here’s what happened: the Padres were down 2-1 in the 6th when Kinsler blasted a 3-run go-ahead homer. As he rounded home, he was shouting and gesticulating wildly. And based on the video footage, it really looks like he was shouting “f*** all of you” repeatedly as he greeted his teammates at the plate.
It was really hard to watch Kinsler blow Game 3 last year at Dodger Stadium. But as frustrating as it was, it didn’t make me lose respect for him. Was it hard at the time, having sat there for over seven hours just to watch my team lose? Of course. Does it happen? Often. We went on to win the World Series, and all was forgiven.
But when you’re a player who is openly rude to your fanbase, the only person who looks bad is you. Even the great Ted Williams is remembered for having a tumultuous relationship with both the press, whom he contemptuously called the “Knights of the Keyboard,” and Red Sox fans. After hitting a home run in his final at-bat on Sept. 28, 1960, Williams famously snubbed Sox fans at Fenway by refusing to tip his cap, which I guess is the 1960s version of swearing at them in a random game in May. But it is a tarnish on Williams’ otherwise brilliant legacy.
Of course, the difference is that Kinsler doesn’t playing well enough to back up his attitude. In 1969, a reporter asked Ted Williams, at that point, the new manager of the Washington Senators, if he would “tolerate a player with a temperament like Ted Williams had as a player.” Williams jokingly responded, “If he can hit like Ted Williams, yes.”
I’m not saying it would be okay if Kinsler was a better player, but it’s definitely not okay when you’re batting .175 with more strikeouts than hits this season. The rude behavior is far more off-putting from a player who isn’t even consistently performing. Regardless, finally remembering how to do the job that you get paid millions for doesn’t give you the right to then swear at an entire stadium filled with fans, including kids.
Maybe Kinsler just said “f*** yeah!” Or maybe, as he claimed postgame, it was an “inside joke” and he was actually shouting to his teammates to hype them up, and not screaming profanities at the fans. But it really doesn’t look that way. It looks like the Padres have some unlikeable guys, and that’s a bad look. It definitely won’t make families want to pay to take their kids to games if the players on their team are going to be dirty spiking and swearing.
One of the reasons I love the Red Sox so much is because of how much our players love Red Sox Nation. It always makes me think of the scene towards the end of Fever Pitch, when the student asks Jimmy Fallon’s character Ben, “You love the Red Sox, but have the Red Sox ever loved you back?”
Boston fans love hard, and we want to be loved in return. And there have been years (2012 comes to mind) when it felt like the Sox had a lot of guys who were not only bad players, but pretty sucky people. And that was really hard for me. It’s why I love to root for guys like Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland; I never doubt that they love all of us right back.
Sports and the athletes who play them would be nothing without fans. I hope Ian Kinsler remembers that.
Photo: Gregory Bull/Associated Press
Ted Williams quote: Politico