A day after hitting a game-winning home run in the 11th inning, Sean Rodriguez was in the Phillies’ starting lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ordinarily, a walk-off home run the night before would earn a player a nice ovation during pre-game introductions.
But Rodriguez was booed by fans as they settled into their seats before the first pitch.
He was booed again before his first at-bat in the second inning.
It would take a significant offense for fans to turn on a guy who won them a game the night before. Rodriguez stepped into the lion’s den when he called fans “entitled” after Monday night’s 6-5 win.
Instead of basking in the glow of his game-winning home run, Rodriguez became defensive and confrontational when a reporter attempted to ask him how good it felt hitting a home run after previously being 1 for 20 with 11 strikeouts in the month of August.
Rodriguez used the question as a launch point to fire on fans and others who have been critical of him and his place on the roster. He extended his commentary to those who have been critical of the team in general (see story).
Rodriguez called fans “entitled” and that did not sit well on the executive level of Citizens Bank Park. It never does when someone disrespects the paying customers.
Manager Gabe Kapler, whose long relationship with Rodriguez dates back to their days as teammates in Tampa Bay, said he spoke to Rodriguez about his comments on Tuesday afternoon.
“Sean's a fiery, fiery guy,” Kapler said. “He's a fiery player. And I think what he was attempting to convey was that he supports his teammates and thinks his teammates perform best when they feel that support, too.”
Kapler was asked specifically about Rodriguez’ use of the word “entitled.”
“I don't think our fans are entitled,” Kapler said. “What our fans are entitled to do is feel what they feel and express themselves accordingly.
“Let's go at it directly: Every great player in every sport that's played here in Philadelphia has gotten booed, right? Charles Barkley was here and spoke to our club not that long ago. Charles Barkley got booed. Ryan Howard got booed. Jimmy Rollins got booed. Mike Schmidt got booed. Some of the greatest athletes in Philadelphia history. It's part of playing here. And I think the best thing for all of us to do is have the thickest possible skin and not take this personally at all. It's not personal.”
Slumping Rhys Hoskins was booed after popping up with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Monday night. The popup capped an 0-for-5 night. He did not take the booing personally.
“We won the game,” he said. “I couldn’t care less (about the boos.) We won the game.”
Hustle, good play and winning remain the ultimate boo repellent.
“Go out and do our jobs every day and do it well,” said Kapler, who was booed before managing his first game in Philadelphia in April 2018. “When we do, we're going to get cheered quite a bit. We see that. We walk off and the stadium erupts. Bryce Harper hits that home run (against the Cubs during the last homestand) and it's all anybody is talking about for several days straight.
“When we're doing our jobs, when we are playing great baseball, we're cheered. And I think that's what we should strive for always.”
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