Both last season and this season Diamondbacks fans have booed Justin Upton at Chase Field when he’s in a slump, with last night’s booing being particularly loud after he went 0-for-5 in a loss to the Padres.
Asked afterward what getting booed by his own fans feels like, the 24-year-old right fielder said:
To be honest with you, I don’t care anything what the fans think of me. My teammates, my coaches, they know I come here and I bust it every single day. I try to do everything I can to help this team. My teammates have my back and whatever the fans want to think, they can think. They can call me lazy. I have heard that in the outfield. They can call me washed up. Whatever they want to call me but at the end of the day I am thankful for every opportunity to come out on a baseball field and I will try my hardest every day.
I’m sure the same fans who boo Upton will find a way to spin those comments as reason to boo him even more, but that seems like a pretty reasonable response to me. Or at least more reasonable than screaming “boo!” at a good player on your home team because he’s not playing well.
And while Upton has struggled for much of this season, particularly when it comes to power hitting, he’s hardly been disastrous with a .263 batting average and .722 OPS. He’s also still just 24 years old and coming off an All-Star season in which he hit .289 with 31 homers and 21 steals. All of that seems to have been forgotten, which is similar to what I’ve seen first-hand in Minnesota from Twins fans who’ve frequently booed Joe Mauer at Target Field both last season and this season.
Like it or not, once a great player signs a big contract a certain segment of the fan base expects him to go 3-for-5 with a homer every single game while never getting hurt or falling into a prolonged slump and is all too eager to lash out when those unreachable expectations aren’t met.