You know, I don’t want to irk two of the handful of people who read this thing, but I just can’t cheer on the Fenway crowd for booing the Phillies’ Brett Myers last Saturday. And it’s not just because I have to disagree with Dan Shaughnessy on everything.
Booing a formerly-beloved center fielder, giving a standing ovation to a well-beloved part-time outfielder, these are things that are within the confines of the game. When the crowd acts like a jury of 35,000, making a decision with scant (though emotionally charged) evidence, on what will probably be a real criminal case, it feels wrong; it’s the kind of mass impulse that leads to the kind of awful things mobs can do. Even though the guy really does sound like a shit, even though what he is reported to have done is awful, and even though the only remorse he still seems to have shown is of the “I’m sorry you found out about it” variety.
I can’t get on the fans too hard. If I’d have been at Fenway, I probably would have joined in. But I can’t take the extra step and say it’s good or that I’m happy about it.
Really, if there’s anyone at fault here (besides Myers himself), it’s the Phillies management for starting him the next day. I mean, even if he had done something trivial, say got arrested for shoplifting some executive toys from Nieman Marcus, I don’t think it’s out of line for them to pull the guy out of the lineup the next day.
On a similar note, there was a good interview with Jaron Lanier in the Globe’s Ideas section last Sunday on the load of crap that is the whole “Wisdom of Crowds” idea. He draws what I think is a valid parallel between the mute acceptance of badly designed software and group think: the idea that “the computer must know better than I do” being a similar individual abdication of responsibility.