The Toronto Blue Jays visited the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field over the past weekend. The series proved to be tense and exciting, yet much of the attention went to fans’ negative reaction towards former Cub Miguel Montero, who was booed soundly upon his appearence as a member of the Blue Jays.
Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks was less than pleased with the booing, saying to reporters “I didn’t like that…we were kind of surprised.”
“That’s just how it goes,” Hendricks added, “Miggy takes it all in stride. He knows how the guys feel about him.”
Montero, of course, was an important part of Chicago’s championship run, hitting a grand slam in Game 1 of the NLCS, and a RBI single in tenth inning of World Series Game 7.
With that being said, however, there was nothing unfair about the booing. Montero had been selfish and a bad teammate for months after the World Series; it is far from a coincidence that the Cubs finally picked up steam after Theo Epstein dumped the catcher off the roster. Montero had lost the respect of the fans and team.
Montero indeed may have helped to secure a championship with his clutch hitting, but he never appreciated and respected everything that a championship means. Only days after Game 7, Montero complained about his role on a radio show, saying, “I didn’t get a chance to play,” and adding later that he was “left out.” Those are bold statements for a player who compiled a paltry .216 batting average for the 2016 season and did not not offer much defensively. It takes a real whiner to complain about being a backup on a historically victorious team, let alone a backup who had lousy regular season. Montero’s actions contrasted sharply with other backup catcher David Ross, who was carried on the field by his teammates in the aftermath of Game 7.
Instead of entering the 2017 season with a new attitude, Montero continued to stew over his role, even though young Willson Contreras was clearly a far superior talent. The situation came to a head in June when after a rough loss to the Washington Nationals, Montero blamed pitcher Jake Arrieta for allowing Washington to steal so many bases. For anyone on a major league team to talk in such a manner is surprising, but for a catcher, someone who is supposed to guide pitchers through games, it is simply inexplicable.
Montero was cut soon after, but late enough for Anthony Rizzo, the leader of the Cubs, to sound off with his opinion. “You’d think he’d make smarter desicions,” Rizzo said. “We win as a team, we lose as a team. If you start pointing fingers, I think that just labels you as a selfish player.”
“I don’t think it’s very professional.” Rizzo continued.
Selfish and unprofessional are perfect words to describe Montero’s conduct. In the end, the catcher certainly had an important role in Chicago’s World Series victory, something no one can ever take away from him, but his behaviour revealed his poisonous negativity in the clubhouse.
Sports fans often root for players who are good at their jobs, but bad at being role models and positive influences. Here is a case of Cubs fans making the choice to publicly denounce the man, instead of cheering the player. Considering the sports world is full of less than exemplary figures, it is a desicion that fans should make more often. The notion of character being more important than performance may seem too romantic and naive to work in real life, but at the end of the day, isn’t it far more fun to root for players we actually like and respect?
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