Yankees Fans, Don’t Boo Stanton


Stanton hit 59 home runs last year; the first time that feat had been accomplished since Barry Bonds. In other words, he’s good. Really good. (DANNY WILD VIA FLICKR)


I went to Yankee Stadium recently and witnessed firsthand what could be the 2018 World Series champion team: the New York Yankees. General Manager Brian Cashman has spoiled the team and its fans with signings and trades that have given the 2018 squad second baseman Gleyber Torres, shortstop Didi Gregorius and, yes, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. These players are the best of the best, the cream of the crop (insert more superlatives here). Torres will likely be the American League Rookie of the Year, pitcher Luis Severino will make a strong run for a Cy Young and superstar Aaron Judge is playing like an MVP.

But at the game I attended, there were boos throughout all three hours of play, an unfortunate normalcy at the stadium. A flyout to left field: Boo! A failed steal attempt: Boo! But most of them, of course, were dealt to Stanton, who has been dealing with a jaded crowd since his first week in New York, when an unpleasant audience booed him several times after he struck out five times in a game…twice. To date, he is batting about .250, which is average.

Stanton was traded from Miami to New York as the reigning National League MVP. He hit 59 home runs last year; the first time that feat had been accomplished since Barry Bonds’ record-setting, ‘roid-raging 73 in 2001. In other words, he’s good. Really good. But it hasn’t shown this year, save for a few flashes of power in his 18 home runs—a strong but not outstanding number for almost 80 games played.

Do I understand why Yankees fans are upset? Absolutely. Does it make booing right? Absolutely not.

Yankees culture has long been defined by winning. With a preeminent 27 World Series victories—one as recently as 2009—expectations are always high for the Bronx Bombers. Their fans hold this team to a higher standard than any other’s. So when things go wrong, even just a smidgen, anger ensues. Stanton’s season unfortunately fits that model of things going a smidgen wrong. While he is still making solid contributions, he is not playing like a World Series champion, which is what Yankees fans have come to expect of their players.

But more important than the Yankees’ culture of winning is baseball’s culture of teamwork. Baseball is one of the only major sports in which it is nearly impossible to carry a team with one or two amazing players: the whole team needs to be good. This is precisely why the stupendous Mike Trout and the Angels have only made it to the postseason once since he debuted in the Majors (and they lost in the first round). This quality of teamwork and collaboration is a colossal part of what makes the national pastime so special. The starting lineup has a whopping nine players in it, there are 25 in an active roster (40 in September) and starting pitchers only play once every five days or so. As the saying goes, it does take a village in baseball.

So for Yankees fans to be gifted with the grace of Cashman’s genius and still be unhappy with less-than-perfect player results is a shame. Fans forget that the team still holds the best record in the league; its win percentage hovering around 70 percent and it is approaching being 30 games over a .500 record. Oh, and it is also on pace to break the record for home runs in a season. Not to mention several of the relief pitchers have earned run averages (ERAs) close to 1.00 this month. Need I go on?

This team is historically good. This is a truly special group of players. So if you get a chance, head up to Yankee Stadium and watch a game or two (if you live at Rose Hill, you have no excuse not to). But when you go, please, for the love of Babe Ruth, don’t boo Stanton.