Unless you are a devotee of front-running, it wasn’t such a hot look.
Conor Gillaspie’s three-run homer had barely touched down and ESPN’s cameras were already focused on Mets fans leaving Citi Field. Dan Shulman, the play-by-play voice, alerted the free world that despite what appeared to be an exodus, most loyalists had remained in the ballpark.
And why not. They did not want to pass on the opportunity to have ESPN’s cameras zoom in on their faces of stunned disbelief. Nor did they want to pass on the chance to boo closer Jeurys Familia, he of the 51 regular-season saves, as he walked off the mound when the ninth ended with the Giants having thrown the wild-card knockout punch, holding a 3-0 lead.
At least that’s how Nelson Figueroa saw it. Anyone still in front of the television after midnight, watching SportsNet New York’s postgame show, was either a masochist or big on baseball autopsies. The cast, Gary Apple, Gary Cohen, Jim Duquette and Figueroa, provided the expected while dissecting the still-warm corpse for mourners still in attendance.
Face it, for most of the evening Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard put the offenses in air-tight lockdown. Bumgarner was the last man standing after Syndergaard left with seven scoreless innings under his hairy head. So, there wasn’t much to analyze. And even less to get worked up about.
Fortunately there was Figueroa. A ticked-off Figueroa. With one mouthy outburst he stole the show and probably pissed more than a few people off. Also, for anyone nodding, or falling asleep, this was an effective wake-up call.
Duquette had finished expressing concern over Familia’s El Foldo having a lingering, detrimental effect on the closer moving forward, when Figueroa embarked on a path rarely traveled by other voices — he targeted the fans.
Figueroa was upset they booed Familia as he walked off the mound after the damage had been done in the ninth. The former pitcher gradually worked himself into a verbal frenzy, first calling the booing “a little disturbing,” before building up a head of steam.
“IT’S NOT RIGHT. I get it, you paid (for a ticket) and your team is losing,” Figueroa said. “You don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.”
Figueroa said the Boo-bots conveniently forgot Familia “put you” in the position to be in a one-game playoff. He stopped short of calling these fans ingrates.
“And he (Familia) makes one mistake and you boo him off the field,” Figueroa said. “That’s DISGUSTING, to me, from Mets fans.”
Fortunately, this was far from being over. Knowing there was another side to Figueroa’s rant, or maybe just totally disagreeing with it, Apple balanced the discussion, saying: “If you’re going to survive in this town this (the booing) is something you’ve got to deal with — like it or not.”
Apple’s qualifier didn’t end the discussion. Cohen accentuated the positives of Familia’s 2015 postseason performance before Apple circled back to Figueroa’s initial take. It seemed he was either trying to get Figueroa to soften his position or further elaborate on it.
“You,” Apple said, “used a pretty strong term — disgusting.”
“… I’m not saying you don’t have the right to boo or lash out, but think about what (Familia) has done up to this point,” Figueroa said. “If anyone feels bad about that moment, if there’s anybody who feels that he has let his team down, or the city down, it’s Familia. So instead of doing that (booing) try to pick him up. Your team still had one at-bat left.”
Whether anyone agrees with Figueroa doesn’t matter. He deserves credit for taking an unpopular, rarely voiced stand. For most of the media, fans — unless they do something untoward or illegal — are off limits.
It always goes something like this: They can do no wrong because they are the paying customers. They are also available eyeballs who produce ratings. Or the first-time callers, long-time droids who fill hours, between commercials, verbally genuflecting to Gasbags inside the Valley of the Stupid.
Figueroa knows this. Still, he went all in. The passion he displayed, and the conviction in which he delivered the words, were all anyone needed to conclude he was totally sincere.
This was not an exercise in phoniness. It was not a contrived, preconceived, or concocted argument, designed to stir things up and instigate a debate. It was from the heart. Darn entertaining, too.
But if you didn’t like it, really didn’t like it, go right ahead. Boo!
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News