By Daniel I. Dorfman–
CHICAGO (WSCR) There is a lot of talk this week regarding Adam Dunn. Not the lousy numbers he has put up this year, specifically a .175 batting average, seven homers and 29 RBI. Or his 1-for-48 performance against lefties. Or that he looks heavier right now than the 285 pounds he is advertised to be at this point.
No, there has been a lot of chatter about whether Dunn should be booed by those assembled at U.S. Cellular Field as he tries to come out of this season-long slump. Some say the fans should back off and maybe give him a collective hug, others say let him have it.
Dunn’s problems with the fans are directly linked to the $56 million contract he signed last winter, and obviously he’s not lived up to expectations. The fact that he doesn’t take batting practice in the off-season doesn’t help him either in the eyes of the public. So he’s now being treated the same way Dave Corzine, Jim Harbaugh and LaTroy Hawkins were all treated at some point during their time in Chicago. In other words, a chorus of catcalls rains down every time he strikes out or pops out, which have been all too frequent occurrences.
To his credit, and using common sense, Dunn didn’t fight back when asked about being. He just acknowledged that he and his family were just as frustrated with his play as everyone else. But others have called for the crowds to back off. That isn’t going to happen and nor should it.
I’ve never begrudged a professional athlete about how much money he or she makes. The basic fact is people pay big bucks to be entertained and professional athletes are entertainers. Economic market forces are exactly that, and if someone is willing to write a big check, people have a right to pursue it. We all wish we had the ability to have jobs where millions of people pay to watch what we do. Professional athletes are some of the few who can live out that dream.
But there is a flipside to that. Since an athlete receives so much money because he’s in the spotlight, fans have every right to boo him when he isn’t performing. As long as it isn’t profane in the company of children, fans have a right to voice their displeasure given that they pay good money in a tough economy to go out and watch in person. Athletes have to accept that, and if they don’t, they are in the wrong profession, no matter how big their salary.
In a sense Dunn and the rest of the White Sox should be happy to hear any boos because it means there are actually people in the ballpark. The fact that none of the games this week against the Cubs sold out, indicates the Sox should be grateful for whatever fans do come down to the Cell.
The easiest way to stop the booing is for Dunn to return to the form he once had. Otherwise, he better get used to it. As Corzine, Harbaugh and Hawkins can attest, once fans in Chicago turn on you, it’s hard to get them back. The only way for that to happen for Dunn is to turn around his awful performance so far in 2011. We have 86 games to find out if that will happen.
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Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.