Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Opposite Theme Of The Last Post

What professional athletes have earned a lifetime on the field pass from a team's fans? What I mean, no matter how much they might be struggling at any given time, the fans shouldn't turn on them, because of what they've meant for the team.

I got to thinking about this because of all the discussion about Yankees' fans booing A-Rod. Or not booing at this particular minute. I didn't think it was that big a deal because Yankee fans boo everybody. I remembered in 2004 that Jeter started the season poorly, was hitting south of .260 at the start of June, and he was hearing boos. Naturally by the end of the season Jeter was back to his usual level of performance, and the bandwagon Yankee fans all loved him again, but the fact they would boo him really surprised me.

I'm no Jeter fan. I'm not sure whether he's overrated or underrated, or neither. But he was a big part of those four World Series championships the Yankees got to celebrate in the second half of the 90s, and given that his play has been at least above average (and usually good or better) his entire career, you'd think they'd cut him some slack.

So I know we've got fans of some different sports teams who read this blog, so are there any people playing, or that have played, for those franchises that you think deserve a pass for their on-field struggles? Or does the money they make mean no slack in light of past service? For example, if Craig Biggio is weighing down the Astros in his pursuit of 3000 hits, and blocking a talented prospect (is he? I don't know Houston's farm system), does he have enough goodwill built up from all his previous years to where the fans won't give him a hard time about it?

Working just from teams I root for, and staying within my time as a fan of those teams:

St. Louis Cardinals - Ozzie Smith (and honestly, even this little thing between him and LaRussa hasn't soured him on me), I think Albert's getting close (if not there already), Willie McGee obviously.

Arizona Cardinals: Aeneas Williams because he stayed with this team, and busted his ass to try and make them good for a decade. Jake Plummer. OK, this is probably just me, but he got Arizona it's first playoff victory in 50 years, over the hated Cowboys no less. The fact the organization spent too much money on his contract and not enough on the offensive and defensive lines, shouldn't be held against Jake.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett, like Aeneas, gets points from me for sticking with a franchise that either isn't trying to win, or is run by people too stupid to help make it a winner. personally, I lean to the second option for both teams.

So, your thoughts?