By Ashley Dunkak

COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – In all sports, home field advantage always becomes a topic of discussion as postseason draws near. What happens, though, when the home crowd is not particularly supportive?

Detroit Tigers slugger Prince Fielder signed a contract last year that pays him $214 million over nine years. This postseason, he has struggled. Known as a power hitter and run producer, he has yet to record an RBI in 10 playoff games thus far.

When Fielder grounded out in the fifth and seventh innings of Game 5 of the ALCS, fans at Comerica booed him. Their team in the playoffs, two games away from potentially advancing to the World Series for a second straight year, fans gave Fielder an awfully hard time. Right fielder Torii Hunter did not like it.

“I don’t think we should boo Prince or boo any of our players for giving a great effort, giving it our all,” Hunter said. “This is the postseason, so we should have positive energy and not negative. That’s not good.”

Fielder himself would not condemn the fans for their response to his performance.

“It’s definitely not pleasant, but they’re fans. That’s what they do,” Fielder said. “They paid to come.”

Does paying to see a game give fans a right to disparage the players, particularly those of the home team? Perhaps. Even if it does, though, just because a person is physically able to do something or not expressively prohibited from doing something does not mean that person should take that action.

To me, it all breaks down like this. To players, the game is business. Nearly all of them would say they enjoy it, but regardless, for them it is a job. For the manager, coaches, front office staff, etc., it is about dollars. For fans, though, sports are forms of entertainment. Going to games is a recreational activity. It is supposed to be fun.

If you are not satisfied with the product, do not go. Watch it on the television that you are already paying for anyway. If it makes you angry to sit in the stands on a cold evening and watch Fielder ground out, spend your precious time and money elsewhere. Seriously, does not that seem like the more logical solution than booing a man who is simply in the middle of a stretch of bad days at the office?

As far as decent human behavior, the question of to boo or not to boo can come back to that lesson your mother taught you when you were a little kid: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Sure, does that seem juvenile and counterintuitive in an age of Facebook and Twitter, where everyone seems to feel a deep-seated obligation to voice opinions about everything? Maybe it does.

Maybe some fans feel it is their right to demand more from Fielder and the Tigers. I always just go to games to enjoy them and support the team I am there for. In my estimation, nothing is gained by me booing anybody, and it does not give me joy to rag on someone else’s struggles, so I see absolutely no point in it.

To boo or not to boo? I have my answer. What is yours? Feel free to comment below.


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