For eight years, I booed Mark Teixeira tirelessly. As far as fans go, I think I’m pretty even-keeled. I pretty much never boo my own guys (admittedly it’s happened from time to time) and lifelong fandom has caused me keep my cool during the highest of highs and lowest of lows of a Baltimore Orioles season.
But Mark Teixeira, man, I booed that guy with every ounce of booing I could possibly muster. I didn’t miss an opportunity to boo. I didn’t want to be in line for a hot dog during one of his at-bats out of the fear that I miss a chance to boo him some more.
In my mind, Tex deserved a lifelong booing sentence in Baltimore because when he was a free agent after the 2008 season, he baited his hometown team, the Orioles, into making him an offer and used it to sign an even bigger deal with their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees. Then, after signing that deal, he went on TV and radio and told everyone he grew up cheering for Don Mattingly. Don FREAKING Mattingly.
Yesterday afternoon, Teixeira played his final game in Camden Yards. Well, technically he was on the roster, but didn’t actually play. So I guess, Saturday he “played” in his last game at Camden Yards, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
The slugger that pitchers around the league once feared has faded in recent seasons. He’s slashing .200/.283/.335 this season and over the last four seasons has been worth just 3.8 WAR despite earning over $90 million during that span. Yeah, maybe it was a good idea that he didn’t sign with the Orioles.
As Tex exited OPACY yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a bit bad for the guy that I’ll no longer be able to boo nine games a season. Some of his quotes in Dan Connolly’s piece on BaltimoreBaseball.com kinda changed my tune on the guy:
On being booed in Baltimore: “Honestly, when you play a long time, that stuff, it really doesn’t bother you at all. The fact that (fans) still understand I’m on the field is pretty good considering the season I’ve had. If Yankee fans are cheering opposing players at Yankee Stadium, I’d be a little mad. But when I go around town (in Baltimore) and I’m back home, it’s nothing but love.”
This isn’t the first time Texieira has made a comment about his depreciating value. “I’ve been terrible and the only thing I can do the last two months is try to be healthy and get hot,” he told the New York Post back in July.
The real reason I feel bad about my relentless boos though is because maybe I let my fandom for the O’s get in the way of the facts when it came to Tex signing with the New York over Baltimore:
On the animosity caused by choosing the Yankees: “Of course. That’s what it is. But the Orioles were upfront with me back when I was a free agent. They didn’t have any intention of signing me. They made an offer just to say they made an offer. Andy MacPhail was great. He was very upfront and said, ‘Listen, we’re not in a position to match the years or the dollars, and we’re a long way from winning.’ They knew they were rebuilding. I’m the last thing they need when they’re rebuilding.”
It makes sense, given where the Orioles were at the time, that they wouldn’t really be interested in committing big to Teixeira. And thank goodness they didn’t. Just imagine what that contract would’ve done to their rebuild, they might not have been able to extend Adam Jones or J.J. Hardy. They probably never would’ve even traded for Chris Davis.
It was a bad fit for both sides, but at the time I didn’t see that. All I saw was an MVP caliber hitter who grew up a stone’s throw away from the ballpark and decided to take a bigger deal with that evil team from the Bronx.
I didn’t set out to write this piece to change your mind about Teixeira. After all, he was a kid that grew up in Maryland and who’s favorite player was a Yankee. But now that his career has come to a close, I kind of wish I would’ve taken it easier on the guy. It’s hard to see the big picture when your team finishes 68-93 and are still three more seasons away from being taken seriously.