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Why Baltimore Booed Mark Teixeira

Yankees first baseman Mark TeixeiraI’ve been surprised by the reaction to the cavalcade of disdain that greeted Mark Teixeira on Opening Day. Colin Cowherd went absolutely nuts today on his radio show, and (as Andrew pointed out) the YES network guys weren’t much better. It was a hot topic on local sports radio all day, and that continued tonight on 105.7.

I wasn’t at the game and can’t speak for anybody but myself, but I think it might be important to articulate some possible reasons for why it went down the way it did.

The easy answer would be that it’s about him choosing the Yankees over the Orioles. And, sure, that’s part of it. But I think it runs much deeper.

Teixeira’s choice wasn’t about baseball and it wasn’t about Baltimore. It was about money. And I think that in the minds of many Orioles fans, that also makes it about what kind of person he is and — more importantly — what baseball has become.

I believe most baseball fans still hold onto the idea that the game is bigger than all of us. That it still means something and is still woven into the fabric of our culture in a way that no other sport can match. I think we also all know that these things are slipping away, and we don’t like it.

The greeting Teixeira received wasn’t organized. No radio station or blog sponsored it. Nobody led the movement. It was a completely organic thing, born out of frustration not only with Teixeira, but also with what he represents.

Which is to say: everything that is wrong with baseball. Not the game, but the business.

I think people were booing his lack of integrity, his inability to act like a human being instead of a PR robot, and his basic lack of baseball decency. It wasn’t about him not coming here. It was about where he went and why.

Mark Teixeira has become a touchstone for all of the things we wish we didn’t have to deal with when we watch baseball. He’s become an avatar of bullshit, and he has earned that position. He earned it by putting business and marketing and public relations and numbers above the two things he and every player ought to put first every day: being a baseball player and being a human being.

The fans didn’t just reject him as a Yankee, they rejected him as someone who has helped rob us of some of the things this great game has provided. And I think that on some level they were saying, “enough is enough.”

19 comments to Why Baltimore Booed Mark Teixeira

  • dan the man

    Agree 100%.

    But I gotta say… why the hell are we talking about this so much today? Baltimore sports radio is going nuts with the thing, when really we should stop dignifying the guy by even mentioning it, and just talk about how we whooped on the Yankees. There’s nothing I dislike more than sports-related controversy getting in the way of actual sports. Let’s move on already. If people don’t understand why we booed Tex, fine. Let them think what they want to think. Let em talk shit. Me, personally? I’ll take the satisfaction in knowing (not assuming) where the Orioles stand as an organization and where its fans stand. We know. Dudes in California do not.

    Furthermore.. like Yankee fans are baseball’s finest? They boo their own players when they don’t get a clutch hit! But of course that wasn’t mentioned.

    Seriously, Baltimore needs nothing MORE than what occurred yesterday, which I think Roch does a fine job of describing in one of his earlier posts today. National radio guys a thousand miles away don’t know what O’s fans have been feeling the last 11 years. They don’t know what it means to live and work and be raised in Baltimore. But we know. And let’s just be happy about that and play ball.

  • Kevin

    I was there yesterday and Neal, you hit it right on the head. I guess in my mind I always knew he wasn’t gonna come here. Watching the last 11 years, who would? To me, he represented the idea that some guys weren’t always swayed by money. That some guys did have a sense of loyalty to their home town. Finally, that there was this idea that Yankees didn’t always get that one guy we were hoping to get.

    Three strikes and the Orioles were out. So for us to boo him, totally appropriate. What a big douche….

  • neal s

    @dan the man – I agree. This wasn’t something I planned to address at all. The reaction was so powerful, though, that it seemed right to put some of the feelings into words. I’m ultimately only speaking for myself, but I think most fans would basically agree.

  • Andrew

    I don’t know. I’m just tired of this bullshit. It’s all bullshit. Like it’s a crime against baseball to boo a Yankee. Or any player. Fuck, it’s something that happens all the time. This really isn’t a big deal. I’ve put way too much energy into this as it is and I’m done with it. It’s boring already. I will forever hate Teixeira more than any other Yankee, but that’s all he is anymore. He’s a motherfucking Yankee and all that that implies. Winning baseball and Scrooge McDuck swimming pools.

    And being the Opening Day goat.

  • sci

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070706&content_id=2071694&vkey=news_bal&fext=.jsp&c_id=bal

    Agreed Neal. Folks can say all they want about the logic of choosing more money and playing for a winner and about how he had no responsibility to come here just b/c he’s from Severna Park, but really it all comes down to the ridiculous bullshit PR game he’s played from the beginning. That link above says it all. To go from that to claiming you’ve always been a Yankees fan? That’s all the reason one needs to boo him endlessly. And that’s the end of it. Agreed Andrew, let’s move on. No more talk, just boo.

  • Miles

    Gee, the national media is really bored without a steroid scandal to breathlessly cover.

    And isn’t Colin Cowherd the schrutebag who railed endlessly against blogs and encouraged his listeners to engage in a defacto DOS attack against a blog he didn’t like?

    ‘Nuff said.

    Unrelated: Did anyone see Bedard’s start in Minnesota last night? (Hooray, DirecTV Extra Innings free preview!) He was filthy through the first three innings. Started to leave his curve up in the zone in the fourth and only made it through five (85 pitches), but still managed to punch eight out.

  • dan the man

    originally posted byMiles
    He was filthy through the first three innings. Started to leave his curve up in the zone in the fourth and only made it through five (85 pitches), but still managed to punch eight out.

    Sounds about right.

  • dan the man

    I was surprised this has yet to be mentioned in the LC community:

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baseball/bal-sp.oriolebird06apr06,0,3478350.story

    Cool beans!

  • ryan97ou

    i was at the game, and neal, as you know….i was always against us signing tex…thinking our money could be better spent on …oh..i dunno..pitching? that said i booed like nobody’s business because of everything you just said.

    do i care teixera isn’t here? no. do i hate that this “sport” has become more of a business? yes.

  • Miles

    @dan the man
    I cherish the work of Mike Ricigliano, and had some of his cariactures of Mickey Tettleton for years after the Froot Loop Kid was shipped off to Detroit. I was especially fond of one cartoon lampooning the battles between Frank Robinson and the late umpire Durwood “Steel Cage” Merrill. But it would seem that they’re keeping the cartoon safe in the pages of the print edition of The Sun. I guess newspapers will continue to be slow to learn what the music industry is finally coming to terms with: you can’t put the digital genie back in the bottle.

  • Greg

    Everything about the way the media has responded to Baltimore booing Mark has me spitting nickels. It’s as if there is not a single national sportswriter that “gets it”, and the verdict is consistently that Baltimore is overreacting to the situation. Even Schmuck’s response infuriated me. Who’s side is he on anyway?

    The whole thing is that I feel used. Baltimore was used. Mark and his fancy PR BS is what caused Baltimore to actually get their hopes up in the first place. The “I love Baltimore” thing seemed sincere. And why not, he is– after all– from Baltimore. All it turned out to be was a way to get another team in on the bidding, and finally when the dust settled it was “Hey guys I really loved New York all this time; PS Mattingly is better than Ripken.”

    Not only is Mark Teixeira from Baltimore, he admitted that he was what Baltimore hates more than anything; a Yankee fan. He didn’t have to sign with the Orioles– there was no guarantee and I think Orioles fans get that. In fact I’m willing to bet that if he resigned with the Rangers, Braves, Dodgers, A’s, Mariners… heck maybe even the Rays– he would not have been booed at all on opening day.

    For myself, it comes down to being used as leverage to join the enemy. It was manipulating perceived loyalties to get paid more. Neal is correct 100%; Mark is everything that fans hate about baseball now. The almighty dollar rules the MLB, and Mark has become the premiere example of how baseball has lost it way. Instead of heroes we have guys who collect paychecks, and that’s just plain wrong.

    Mark is the beneficiary of Baltimore’s ire, and it’s been pent up for eleven years. He deserves every bit of it. I hope people in Baltimore scoff when they see him walking around the area. If I were him I’d wonder what restaurants were doing to my food.

  • dan the man

    KOJI

    7PM

  • PhilR8

    I think the comments are a little more accurate than the blog post. I don’t care that Teixeira took extra money to play in New York – it’s something I think we’d all do in a similar situation. The problem with Teixeira, as mentioned above, is that he used the O’s to drive up his price. Teixeira has been documented as being Boras’s “ultimate” client – meaning Tex was as on board with Boras’s plan as anyone besides ARod (see link #1).

    And when you look at the link posted by sci – a link from 2007, for god’s sake – all the pieces fall into place. Teixeira and Boras have been using Baltimore and the “home-town” storyline for YEARS, just to milk as much money out of the Yankees as possible. Teixeira played up the nostalgia factor of growing up in Baltimore, and then, boom, as soon as he’s a Yankee, suddenly he’s been a Yankee fan all of his life, wore a Yankees hat to Memorial Stadium, and idolized Don Mattingly growing up?

    The reason Teixeira got booed – the ultimate reason, above the money, the Yankees, and even above the underhanded contract machinations by Boras – is that Teixeira is a fraud and a phony and manufactures a different life history depending on the audience. It’s bullshit, and Tex deserves all the boos that he gets.

    And if national radio voices don’t understand it, I couldn’t care any less.

    Link #1: http://slidingintohome.blogspot.com/2009/01/gammons-teixeira-is-borass-ultimate.html

  • Pat the Bat

    Oh come on! I’m a Sox fan and I wanted them to sign Tex as much as anyone, and when he went to NY, I was disappointed. But I wasn’t surprised or even mad. Why don’t people understand that he did what any human would do? He took the job that offered the higher salary. Say what you will about how he used the “hometown” thing as leverage, but it’s not all that different to when someone uses a potential job offer as leverage to get a raise at from their current employer. People talk about how the game has changed these days and about how it’s all become a business. Is this really different from anything in the past? Red Sox sold Ruth to make a buck. The Dodgers and Giants left New York because there was money to be made out west. You also had racist organizations and GMs and players who were drunk or taking amphetamines or both. The 1919 Black Sox scandal. Pete Rose. The game of baseball has always had an ugly underbelly. Nothing’s really changed except that fans now have this sense of entitlement. The fact that a person works hard, has had a hard life, or pays $72.00 for a ticket to a ball game doesn’t entitle them to anything. Don’t like ticket prices? Don’t go to a game. Don’t like Texeira? Boo him, that’s fine. But don’t act like he committed a crime. As I noted above, he did what any of us would do, and what many of us have done. He took the best offer on the table.

  • Greg

    In twelve years, when LJ Hoes hits free agency, I want to see what this kid– a baseball loving, true and blue (orange?) Orioles fan, born and raised outside of DC– ultimately winds up doing with himself.

  • Tyler from Detroit

    “Teixeira’s choice wasn’t about baseball and it wasn’t about Baltimore. It was about money.”
    I dont like this statement for two reasons.
    First, how do you know it was solely about money. Maybe he didnt want to go to a team that hasnt had a winning season in 10 years and probably wont have one in the next 10.
    Secondly, who cares if its about money? Baseball is a business ladies and gentlemen. get over it. The players in the MLB dont care about their sport any more than any NFL or NBA players.

  • Jon from Hagerstown

    @ Pat the Bat: “Using a potential job offer as leverage to get a raise from their current employer” is not an accurate analogy. This is more like LYING that there is a job offer when in fact none exists. I think we can all agree that that would be fraudulent and at least immoral (if not illegal). Thats what MT did here. He never had any intention of coming here- it was all a calculated business strategy to essentially extort money.

  • Tomás

    @Tyler from Detroit – “and probably wont have one [winning season] in the next 10.”

    That doesn’t help your credibility, even ESPN and SI (inarguably the most mainstream of sports news outlets) have the Orioles returning to a winning season and subsequent playoff runs NEXT YEAR, let alone trying to eek out just one .500 year within the next decade.

    Yes, baseball has always been, and should be, a business, but the root of what bothers me (and I assume other Os fans) the most about Teixeira is not staying true to his word. It’s not like the days of Angelos Über Alles where a player is offered a way-below market value contract and is pressured into signing just because of hometown loyalties (ala Mussina), but this was in the Age of Andy and Teixeira was offered market value by his HOMETOWN team. No expectations of a hometown discount and then trying to paint him as scurrilous when he signs with another team at or above market value.

    So what does he do? He signs with his hometown team’s hated rival for…1/6 more in pay? The opportunity cost of being hated so much by your entire hometown/area that you have to think twice about EVER eating anything there again is … a 16.67% raise? The dude isn’t greedy, he’s just an idiot that wants to be with the “in crowd”.

  • He had to have had some idea what would happen if he decided to wear pinstripes. And Tomás is right, if I was him, I would never eat out in the state of Maryland again.

    You can’t play the games this cat did with the emotions of a town and expect to be greeted with anything but vitriol and bile when you step up to the plate here.

    And I hate to say it because I’m sure it makes me sound as déclassé as the media’s painted Baltimoreans, but looking at things with hindsight the whole “his wife told him she wanted him to be a Yankee” b.s. is part of the PR machine too.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2009/01/06/2009-01-06_mark_teixeiras_wife_leigh_nudged_hubby_t.html
    http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2009/01/07/the-dugout-pros-and-cons/