On Monday night’s episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, there was a segment where New Yorkers booed a cutout of Robinson Cano and furiously changed their stance when Cano himself popped out from behind the cutout. While the skit did provide some laughs, I think it also represents the hypocrisy of the modern fan.
Fans have no qualms about booing a player or talking crap on social media, but the second the player acknowledges them, the fans generally backpedal and try to make amends. I think a lot of the booing is based in the fact that they’re playing for an opposing team and you want your team to crush them. None of these fans despised Cano or wished that he got hurt, they were just booing because he’s a Mariner and not a Yankee. That’s cool.
The whole social media phenomenon of “tag players in a tweet when you wish bad things to happen to them” is a completely different animal, and yet, fans react the same way. If a fan tweeted Cano something dumb on Twitter and he responded (not that I’d ever advocate such a move from an athlete), more often than not, the fan would furiously backpedal, throw praise at him, and (of course) beg for a follow back. That’s just how the world works now – it’s apparently OK to say things on social media you’d never say in person unless you get a response, in which case, all bets are off.