Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Grilli The New Whipping Boy With Departure Of Perez

Jason Grilli, a few days ago, trotted out a typical athlete's response to the boo-birds of his hometown.

"I'd like to go to where those people work," the Tigers reliever said, "and boo them at their office."

This retort is flawed in many ways, not the least of which is that the ones doing the booing aren't being paid millions to perform -- nor are those folks charging admission to see them work. Or $5.00 for a hot dog while they're watching.

Grilli is a frustrated pitcher right now. He's had a devil of a season, and he seems to save his worst performances for Comerica Park. He is greeted with boos when he runs to the mound, and that shabby treatment is usually reserved for a maligned closer -- not a long reliever.

They booed him again Monday night, when the A's were having their way with the Tigers. Grilli had done nothing, to that point, to deserve being booed, except to have his name announced on the PA. He gave up an infield single, but then got some strikeouts to end the inning. He could be seen yelling some epithets as he walked to the dugout. Don't know to whom those f-bombs were directed, but the fans could have been a target.

Grilli's improper response came late last week, when he poured some gasoline on a Tampa Bay rally, giving up a grand slam to Johnny Gomes to spoil Nate Robertson's victory. The Tigers won anyway.

With Neifi Perez banished, out of the fans' nightmares for good in 2007, Jason Grilli has seemed to taken on the role of the Tiger pinata. Before Monday night, I hadn't witnessed a Tigers pitcher being booed as he entered a game since ... perhaps Todd Jones, after some rough outings. But this was no mixed reaction, as with Jones or even Fernando Rodney, who can also be maddening. These were flat-out boos -- no mistaking it. It was the fans saying, "We don't want you in this game, nor on our team, for that matter."

I can see where such a reaction would cut through Grilli, whose dad pitched in Detroit in the mid-1970s. He's a good guy who doesn't take his roster spot for granted. But his frustrated reaction was framed wrongly. Comparing yourself to a regular Joe Shmoe who doesn't get booed in his office is silly and simple-minded.

When the Tigers win, it's usually not because of Jason Grilli, and when they lose it usually can't be blamed on him, either. Same with Neifi Perez. Yet these two are maybe the most vilified of all the Tigers. Fans are funny.


Blogger Big Al said...

What's going on with Grilli may be the most venom I've seen spewed from Detroiters since the last days Willie Hernandez. Or for that matter, it's much like Wings fans hatred literally running Tim Cheveldae out of town, or Lions fans unloading their several decades worth of frustrations on Scott Mitchell.

3:21 PM  

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