A buddy of mine recently retweeted a DetTigerTalk message saying, “Dear
#Tigers fans. Please, if/when Valverde comes into a game, please cheer. Don’t boo before he does anything. Be better than NY fans.”
That feeling in the pit of my stomach? Guilt.
I’m often quick to tweet or post or status update during a bad performance. It’s quite similar to a teenager screaming, “DAD I HATE YOU I’LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU I HATE YOU HATE YOU HATE YOU!” after the dad grounds her from using her cell phone for a week – I’m throwing a hissy fit.
Recently the subject of my hissy fits has been Jose Valverde, and it’s really not fair. He hasn’t been at his best, and I’ve been a jerk about it. Last year I was privileged enough to attend game 3 of the ALCS last year, and I clearly remember multiple fans in attendance booing Gene Lamont, Ryan Raburn, and anyone else who had performed their job poorly for the previous couple games during the team introductions. I could only think about how shallow, callous, and just plain un-fanly it was to greet our home team with negativity, when clearly they need support instead. And now, sitting here, reading that tweet, I feel terrible.
Jose Valverde has been a great Tiger during his tenure. His first season he was uncanny in the first half before injuries derailed him. Last season he was automatic with his incredible save streak and his ability to instill confidence in fans as soon as he came out to close a game. He’s struggled this season, but he still showed that exuberance for the game, still showed how glad he was to be playing on this team and contributing. And now, after two crummy showings, I’m grabbing a pitchfork and a torch and joining into the knee-jerk mob mentality.
Dude needs some support. Maybe this brief rough patch allows him to focus more, use the splitter better, put more stank on his fastball. Regardless, he’s a member of the two-time AL Central champs and he is the designated closer. He deserves applause.
And yeah, we ARE better than a Yankee fanbase that can’t even fill their stadium in the playoffs.