Pete Mackanin and some random radio hosts didn’t much like that Phillies fans cheered Chase Utley this past week. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts thinks it was swell. So swell that he heaped praise on the passion of Phillies fans:
“Philly, these fans sometimes get a bad rap because they can be hard on their players, but they are very passionate, they are very knowledgeable, and for them to show their admiration for Chase every time he has stepped in the batter’s box, it has been impressive. It says a lot about Chase as a man, what he did for the city and as a baseball player, so for us to be in the dugout to see Chase get this admiration is pretty cool.”
I always smile when I see fans described as “passionate,” as if that’s the end of the analysis. Passion, in and of itself, is not a positive or negative thing. It describes the force or intensity of something. I can passionately kiss your mom. I can kill someone in a crime of passion. Fans can be passionate in cheering for a former player or passionate in hurling a D-battery at an opposing player’s head. The details of the actual behavior, however passionate it is, kind of matter. How is your mom doing anyway? Tell her I said hi.
Anyway, I’m on Roberts side here. I like that Philly fans cheered Utley and think anyone who says fans can’t warmly welcome someone, even if he currently plays for another team, is a sourpuss who should probably take a bigger picture view of why fans like sports.