Votto shows competitive drive to Reds’ fans

Published 1:56 am Monday, July 19, 2010

Joey Votto is putting up MVP like numbers and that is exciting for Cincinnati Reds’ fans. But something Votto said last week at the All-Star Game is pretty exciting for me.

In an era when players all seem to be best friends and leave fans questioning their competitive drive, the Reds’ first baseman put all that to rest.

Votto is a hater.

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I know, I know. Love others as you love yourself. That’s fine for every day life, but not on the field. The only friends a player has on the field are his teammates. Oh, he can show sportsmanship, but he doesn’t have to talk about hooking up after the game for dinner or a get together with their families.

When the Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Marion Byrd made an impressive defensive play for the National League All-Stars, Votto didn’t rush to offer his congratulations. In its usual post-game over-coverage, Votto told ESPN he didn’t like the Cubs.

He clarified his remarks on Friday saying he had great respect for the Cubs, but he added that he “can’t say as much for their fans.”

The reason? When the Cubs clinched the NL Central title in Cincinnati three years ago — Votto’s first in the major leagues — thousands of Cubs fans were in the stands at Great American Ball Park. Votto didn’t care for the way they conducted themselves and to this day won’t sign an autograph for Cubs’ fans.

Every baseball fans knows about the Cubs futility. They haven’t won a pennant since the discovery of electricity or a World Series since Methuselah’s 969th birthday. Because of their strong support and devotion to their team despite such futility, Cubs’ fans seem to believe they are better than other fans.

It was the Chicago fans that began throwing an opposing player’s home run back onto the field instead of keeping it as a souvenir. If someone ever decides to keep it, look out.

Do Cubs’ fans go over the top? Just ask Steve Bartman.

By the way Cubs’ fans, the touched foul ball incident with Bartman was in Game Six, not Game Seven. You were leading 3-0 in the eighth inning. If not catching the foul — I question if Moises Alou would have even caught the ball — was the difference in the series instead of your bullpen’s inability to hold a lead or your team’s ability to win the next game, you can understand why the rest of the baseball world doesn’t appreciate your so-called passion.

And to be fair, Red Sox fans need to get over Billy Buckner letting the ground ball go through his legs in the World Series. That, too, was in Game Six and you were up 3-2 in the series.

You also had a two-run lead in the 10th inning and your bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. On top of that, Buckner was hurting and your manager John McNamara had been replacing him in the late innings for defensive purposes with Dave Stapleton but didn’t in this situation.

Anyway, let’s get back to the subject matter at hand.

Votto can expect to be booed when he returns to Chicago, and that’s fine. Cubs’ fans have booed better players than Votto including Babe Ruth in the 1932 World Series.

That’s when Ruth hit his “called shot” home run. An angry Ruth had called the Cubs’ players cheap because they didn’t vote one of the players on the team a full series pay share. The player was traded during the season from Ruth’s Yankees and helped the Cubs win the pennant.

Ruth proved his competitive drive. He didn’t worry what the Cubs’ fans thought. Votto seems to have that same mentality, and I appreciate that.

By the way, Cubs’ fans cheered Ruth after he hit his home run, so I guess there’s still hope for Votto. Maybe Cubs fans’ aren’t that bad after all.


Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.