Bernstein: Dunn Making Sox Fans Act Weird

By Dan Bernstein Senior Columnist

Give a guy $56 million, watch him hit .171, and we all become tee-ball parents.

“Yay, Adam! Adam got a hit! Honey, take a picture – did you bring your phone? I know, I’m low on battery, too…just take one…Great job, Adam!”

After Dunn ended an 0-for-19 skid yesterday with a fourth-inning single off of the Royals’ Jeff Francis, something odd happened. The response to the unexpected result was amused surprise (especially since it was only his second hit off a lefty all year), which then grew to an ovation as many rose to their feet.

It seemed utterly sarcastic at first, but then it changed. I can’t tell you exactly when or how, and it’s tougher to determine since my interpretation is influenced by the way TV presents such things, but there was a perceptible drift away from “At least you didn’t strike out, you big idiot” and toward “Come on, big fella, hang in there!”

Dunn’s response was telling, and significant. Standing at first base, he removed his helmet and waved to the crowd, directly acknowledging them. It seemed genuine, and not the kind of thing you’d do defiantly if you thought you were being mocked.

If this has happened before with an expensive, struggling player on the south side, I can’t remember it.

I can recall countless cases of full-throated exasperation, and a Bronx cheer to match almost every real one. But this is new, strange, and not altogether unpleasant.

The subsequent outpouring after Dunn’s game-flipping two-run homer in the eighth confirmed what was occurring – there was a temporary, powerful sense of ownership created by the earlier moment, with last night’s crowd uniquely invested in his performance. They stood behind him, he made sure to let them know he was aware of it, and the fan/player connection seemed to exist more so than ever, at least for a day.

That’s why the over-the-top reaction and curtain call seemed reasonable. Nobody thought we’d reach the point where a less-than-booming shot against the Royals in July would lead to such things, but here we are.

Ownership is what this is all about, really. Sox fans know it’s a four-year deal, and may have moved past the booing stage, into some kind of supportive resignation. The thought may be “Ok, he’s not what we thought we were getting, but he’s going to have to hit for us to win anything, and I’m tired of yelling at him.”

It would be much easier if he were a villain, or a brooding, scowling moper. The fact that Dunn has been so open about his struggles has made it difficult to keep punishing him, since it’s clear he’s doing it to himself.

Even gripes about his conditioning and work habits have quieted, now that he’s been taking extra batting practice and working with Greg Walker.

“The thing about the fans, they boo and stuff because they want to see the team and me personally do so well,” Dunn said. “That’s how I’ve been looking at it. It makes it more special when they cheer like that.”

When Dunn was signed, he was the focal point of the ensuing “All In” ad campaign – essentially a hardass challenge to fans to match the team’s poker-table raise with their own dollars. And this is not just any fanbase, but one of the most notoriously fickle and demanding.

And here we have what may be the biggest free agent bust in franchise history, and Sox fans are making the conscious decision to provide encouragement.

I never thought I would see such a thing.

And now for some reason I’m craving a juice box and some Teddy Grahams.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Dunn Making Sox Fans Act Weird

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Wow, Bernsie has been THE t-ball parent to Dunn all year……strike outs are not bad outs etc. etc.
    What a u-turn.

  • Eric Martell

    Strikeouts aren’t bad outs. Pointing out the truth doesn’t make Bernsie a t-ball parent.

    • Jesse Austin

      Strikeouts *are* bad outs. They are totally wasted at-bats. When a hitter puts the ball in play – even a weak ground ball, a pop-up or a shallow fly ball – there is always at least the possibility that something good will happen, e.g., a runner moves up a base, the defense makes an error and the hitter gets on base, a runner scores, etc. What happens when a hitter strikes out? NOTHING!

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        That’s too simplistic of an analysis. Yes, strikeouts are bad, but outs are rarely productive (out of the 54 per game, how many advance a runner, drive in a run, etc?) so they’re only negligibly better than, say, a ground-out to the shortstop. However, strikeouts go hand-in-hand with something else: power. Nobody, not even the most pointy-headed stat geek, will tell you strikeouts are good. They will tell you, however, that strikeouts are a small price to pay for doubles and home runs, and that the difference between a strikeout and any other out is much less than many believe.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        reminds me on Kong Kingman when I was a kid…SO or HR, feast or famine, seemed he didn’t often just plink a single.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        great to see you posting again BevBrew…..your WYC contributions continue to be excellent

      • Larry

        Unless the catcher drops strike 3.

  • CT Rancher

    If Bernstein has been a tee-ball parent to Dunn this year, I’d hate to be the player that he doesn’t like to console!

    Wow- only his second hit off of a lefty all year? Ouch!

    • Murphs Upper-Lip

      Vs. Lefties: 2-56 (.036), 2 singles, 10BB, 1RBI, 0R, 26K, 1HBP – yikes.

      • Larry Horse's Arse


  • Jason's Jelly-Filled Donut

    Quit talkin baseball!!!

    • Lil' Bycracke

      Talk more hockey then!

  • Bernstein's 4th Grade Teacher

    Perhaps we should boo Bernstein for this article. Talk about mailing one in, this was almost as bad as Dunn’s performance this year. This almost smelled of Mariotti.

    • CT Rancher

      You mean like garlic and bourbon?

      • CT Rancher

        again- I couldn’t resist

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Far more interesting is the feud between brothers as to possession of autographed Sox baseballs…reminds me of “You cut the turkey” in “Avalon”.


    It’s the middle of summer, and we don’t have any idea what the AL (or NL) Central is going to look like in September. This is the right article (unless, you want to talk about the complete selfishness of NFL owners).

    He could have written about the Cubs. . . .(cough).
    The Sox offense, is, collectively, too slumpy. They need to “Charlie Brown” one of the next two pitchers.

  • mike in davenport

    Dan, in some remote corners of the world, this “acting weird’ is also referred to as “supporting your team.”

  • Jerry

    Last night was a perfect example why SOX fans are the best and most knowledgable fans in baseball.

    • Sean Connery's Cackle

      Far from it, the incessant booing that Dunn has had to endure has made me sick. You can play the “I pay for my tickets so I can do what I want card” all you want, but one curtain call doesn’t make up for months-worth of booing. If anything it shows how fickle Sox fans are.

      That said, I’m genuinely happy for Dunn and while I’m praying this could be the spark he needed, it’s one game. If he starts to show some consistency I’ll feel more at ease. If he doesn’t then the boo-birds will come back… fans lmao…

    • Spoon

      The fact that they cheered for a terrible hitter that’s sucking dry the budget for hitting a homerun after striking out 120 times, while booing every move he’s made for 3 months? That’s your reasoning for Sox fan’s being “the best and most knowledgable fans in baseball”

      Really?? I’d hate to see the dumb fans if those are the smart ones..

      That’s some amazing logic you have there.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Your comment is a bullseye Spoon.

        Don’t look to NY for any sports insights either.
        I was in NY the past half-dozen days, listened to WFAN.
        Ouch. My ears bleed.
        The callers are morons and the hosts make Mike Nort sound like Sir Laurence Olivier with their Brooklyn and LonGuyland accents.


    every 2 weeks DUNN catches up to a pitch down/in. he’s still lost-in-space..nothing has changed. & will continue to blow. whatever the problem.. both he AND the hitting coach have been undressed for the clueless idiots they are.. unable to re-evaluate & adjust. how long before someone figures out this trainwreck has only one logical conclusion?.. & launches this slug?

  • Denver Deadite

    5 years ago, I desperately wanted the Cubs to sign Dunn for his bat. And even until last year, that bat was just fine.

    But boy did Dunn get old overnight.


    Bobby Abreau (czech shpeling) did the same thing with the Yankees.
    Mike Socia (chek slpeing) is a really good manager.

    I don’t think it’s NL players crossing over to the AL. That seems too simple.

    • Beverly Brewmaster

      No, old hitters don’t get bad because they cross over from the NL to the AL. It just looks that way because most NL hitters cross over to the AL when they get old so they can DH.

  • Chris

    It’s Dan’s job to be controversial. That doesn’t mean it has to be relevant to anything.

  • Jesse Austin

    Beverly Brewmaster,

    You write, ” … strikeouts go hand-in-hand with something else: power … strikeouts are a small price to pay for doubles and home runs,”

    Unfortunately, today’s game has devolved to the point where, in many cases, strikeouts and extra-base production have no relation. Far too many Jose Hernandez-Corey Patterson-Bill Hall types – encouraged by this generation’s permissive attitude toward strikeouts – are swinging from the heels and producing relatively little as a payoff for whiffing.

    I confess I come at this as an “old-timer” – I’m 60, and when I first became a baseball fan as a kid in the late ’50s, striking out a ton was not considered a given, even among power hitters. For every Killebrew, you had even more sluggers such as Mantle. Aaron, Mays, Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson, who generated world-class power numbers without creating an offensive black hole in their respective lineups.

    Sorry, but given a choice between a guy who’s going to strike out 200 times a season and one who puts the ball in play on a regular basis (which translates to more opportunities for singles, doubles, triples and homers), I’ll take the contact guy.

    • Beverly Brewmaster


      I understand why you feel the way you do, but I really believe it’s a matter of perception. This article sums up the issue better than I can:

      • Jesse Austin


        Thank you for the article, which makes me realize my arguments regarding strikeouts were not valid. I apologize to you, Spoon and Chris in Scottsdale.

        Having admitted my error, I question the author’s claim that more strikeouts are a harbinger of better baseball. To clarify a point I was attempting to make: Being a “contact hitter” does not necessarily mean you’re a *singles* hitter – that was the reason I mentioned all the Hall-of-Fame sluggers in my second post. I could have added to that list Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols and our own Paul Konerko, just to name a few.

        In the end, I suppose it’s a matter of taste – I prefer to see consistent contact (except against White Sox and Cubs pitchers!) and the ball in play.

    • Spoon

      You might take that player, and you’d be losing to teams that choose correctly. The numbers have been run over and over and over again, and you’re hunch is not going to do anything to sway people from facts that have been developed over the last decade.

      If you have evidence to the contrary, other than your own personal ‘feelings’ please show it. Since there are MOUNDS of evidence to the contrary. Grounding into 240 outs right at the shortstop isnt doing sqaut for you, regardless of how you ‘feel’ about it.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Matt Murton and his career .286 average. Where he at?
      Conor Jackson and his .274 average and nearly 1:1 K:BB… Platooning in Oakland.
      Jack WIlson rarely strikes out. Neither does Mark Kotsay.

      Those are “contact” guys. I’ll take Dunn or Mark Reynolds anyday.

      The top-10 active AB per SO rates in baseball:
      Pierre, Polanco, Y. Molina, Betancourt, O. Cabrera, C. Izturis, Ichiro, Vizquel, Pujols, Mauer. Lots of range there. Some very good players, some that are average at best.

      Just because players such as Patterson or Bill Hall shouldn’t be swinging for the fences doesn’t mean that Adam Dunn or Carlos Pena should stop as well. The Patterson comparison is especially silly. K’s are not a fully accurate indicator of whether a hitter is producing runs or not.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Sweet Christmas. You talk about me mentioning flameouts then mention four of the best contact hitters of the last forty years- four members of the 3,000 hit club. Talk about hypocritical.

        I’m simply comparing sluggers with gaping holes with cases of “batting average” guys that don’t strike out.

        You’re taking four of the highest-average guys over the last 40 years and putting them against Dunn and Mark Reynolds. I’m comparing the likes of Juan Pierre with Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds.

        Would I like Ichiro over Dunn or Reynolds? Sure. Don’t be absurd. Juan Pierre isn’t Ichiro. He’s not even Chuck Knoblauch.

        How about an actually apt comparison- a premier bat man in his prime and a top-line slugger with holes all over his swing?

        Would I want Ryan Howard as a hitter at age 29 or Ichiro as a hitter at age 29? I’ll take Howard. Their career OBP’s are nearly identical, but what they provide differs greatly. I think that pretty much every GM in baseball would say the same thing.

        …but gosh, Howard strike out just so much, so I must be crazy, y’know, overvaluing things like home runs.

        Can strikeouts be frustrating? Sure. They eliminate any variable that comes into effect when a ball enters play, such as a booted grounder or fly ball to advance the runner. Totally true. However, the sum of production of an all-or-nothing slugger usually outdistances a that of a comparably proficient bat-control artist. That’s why chicks dig the long ball.

      • Jesse Austin

        … and mentioning a few flameouts among contact hitters is not an accurate indicator of production, either. You and Spoon apparently never heard of Carew, Brett, Gwynn and Boggs. In fact, I’m surprised you’re even aware of Suzuki. You’d actually take Dunn and Reynolds over them? Really?!

  • StupidPeopleFTW

    If this same exact thing had happened on the North Side, Dan would be lecturing people about cheering for a loser and being baseball stupid. He’s really mailing these new blog entries in.

    Danny boy, WYC?

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    So is Nancy Grace going to have a conniption over this Anthony verdict or what???

    • WILSON!

      Did her production team invent the “10 degrees off of upright–close in shoulder shot?”
      It makes the interviewer look like they’re leaning in to the person on the split screen (who, if they’re against the host’s position, looks like they’re in front of a firing squad).
      I avoid anything that resembles that.


    My fantasy Cubs rotation:


  • Bryan

    Dan about a week ago Lawrence Holmes on his show was talking how the Sox fans should stop booing Adam Dunn and give him cheers of encouragement. It looks like it worked.

  • Bogie

    I was amused to hear Dan comment a few times about Hawk seemingly calling Dunn “Canyon.” However, I wonder if Hawk has actually been saying “Tanyon,” as in former player Tanyon Sturtze. His lifetime 1-for-16 batting record, striking out five times, resembles Dunn’s prolonged slump.

  • big time sucker

    OK, I will make this quick

    glad to see blog back, this is my morning brain excercise love it. hey LHA Bev Brew CIS Wilson! and all other blogging cohorts who make this a worthy excersice in free speech bad grammer and bad spelling in the name of sports worth checking out, good to see ya!!!

    quick hits because believe it or not, must work today

    chicago baseball- still bad and unwatchable
    dunn- to quote steve miller band, come on take your money and run
    bulls draft- they did the right thing and made their draft night lockout proof, good job!!!
    lack of football-irritating, grating, hopefully over soon
    NBA Lockout- actually somewhat justified, yet see above
    u2 concert last night- absolutly outstanding(but i am a mark, so my opinion is biased)
    solider field rampway and upper level layout- BAD

    talk to you later

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    GREAT to see you posting bts

    Your quick-hits were excellent.

    Hope that you and the fam are all well.

    Best wishes, my friend.

  • brandon

    you guys missed whats wrong w this article – fans were not genuinely cheering dunn after his single (reached on error). the fans were definitely mocking him

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