This post is really a response to a question posed at Gaslampball.com. When is it ok to boo Trevor Hoffman? Let me set up the scenario for you.
Last night, bottom of the 8th in a 1-1 game, the Padres put runners on 1st and 2nd with no one out. The Padres, after failing to bunt the runners over (thus requiring only a fly ball to score), hit themselves out of the inning and failed to score. This left the game in a 1-1 tie heading to the 9th.
NOTE: As someone asked on the post-game show last night, why didn't Heath Bell stay in the game for the 9th? The pitchers spot in the batting order came around with runners on. Simple as that.
Now, Trevor's struggles in tie games, at least as compared to save situations. But there he was, and for 2 batters it looked like a stroke of genius as Trevor struck out the first two batters he saw.
Then, back-to-back homeruns. 3-1, game over.
What followed that inning was perhaps more shocking and more worthy of debate. The San Diego fans booed Trevor Hoffman as he left the mound. Which leads to our question, is it ok to boo Trevor Hoffman?
Many will say yes and they have a point I suppose. He is a highly paid athlete, he is under-performing (although his save total is still high enough to be among the National League's best), and an overall frustration in the 2008 season was being taken out on Trevor in that moment. Dare I say, those who support booing Trevor Hoffman are dead wrong.
Bill Simmons of ESPN.com said of die hard fans that when you are a die hard, the team is like your family. When a member of the family screws up, the family circles the wagons. So should we around Trevor Hoffman. What is most frustrating is that those who would boo were the same fans who cheered at Trevor's record-breaking save or save #500 or even the first two strikeouts last night.
But more than any of this, Trevor has earned our respect. We know he's not as effective, he knows, everyone knows it. That does not warrant booing. Can anyone ever imagine a scenario in which Tony Gwynn would be booed for striking out with the bases loaded or for making a game-ending error? Of course not and nor should Trevor be booed. He is arguably the second most prominent Padre in history, will be a Hall of Famer and will one day have his own statute at the Park-at-the-Park. I'm not asking for blind idol worship. Just don't boo the man. In the end, if you are a fan, you have a vested interest in Trevor and the team doing better. That goal can't be reached by booing.
Trevor has never beat his wife, used performance-enhancers, said disparaging remarks about the city of San Diego or his teammates, has never acted as if he is better than everyone. What he has done is stay loyal to this team despite more lucrative offers, established himself as a champion for charity causes in San Diego, and set an all-time record as a Padre. This is not the kind of players that deserve to be booed nor is San Diego the type of place that should be associated with booing their legends. Save that for New York and Boston.
Of course, all of this could have been avoided if the Padres had professional hitters who knew how to bunt.