Column: Two thumbs up for fans making themselves heard

Aug 30, 2021, 12:13 PM | Updated: Aug 31, 2021, 12:23 am

At the BMW Championship, the well lubricated shouted “Patty Ice” as Patrick Cantlay rolled in putt after putt to take down Bryson DeChambeau in a playoff about as compelling as golf can offer.

There was a lot of shouting at Citi Field as well. A lot of booing, too, as Mets fans took out their frustrations only to find the players taking out some frustrations of their own.

Fans are back in almost full force in sports, and that should make everyone happy. They may not always say the things players want them to say, but they make things a lot more fun, whether in the stands at Citi Field or lining the fairways in Maryland.

“The fans were so energized and into every shot,” Cantlay said after finally ending his duel with DeChambeau on the sixth playoff hole. “It’s really nice to have them back.”

They were back Monday in tennis, too, vaccination cards in hand as the U.S. Open began in Queens. A little boisterous, perhaps, but welcomed by players who for too long have been listening to little other than loud grunts and balls hitting rackets.

Former champion Sloane Stephens welcomed them, even as she noticed they were a bit inappropriate by “calling out at random times.”

“We missed all of that,” Stephens said.

What DeChambeau thought will apparently remain inside his head. Already boycotting any media that won’t lead the cheerleading for him, the long hitter who seems to be talking all the time on the course stormed off without a word afterward about his playoff or the fans who boisterously followed him around the course.

The loss was a tough one, yes. So, apparently, was hearing one too many “Brooksie” chants referencing his silly feud with Brooks Koepka.

What that means for the Ryder Cup next month is anyone’s guess. The increasingly petulant DeChambeau is unpopular among his fellow players, meaning that captain Steve Stricker will have a hard time pairing him with anybody, much less Koepka.

But with the Ryder Cup comes media responsibilities that the PGA Tour seems unable — or unwilling — to enforce. Fans eager to cheer on the U.S. team will want to know what DeChambeau thinks about the golf course, the format and, yes, a possible pairing with Koepka.

For Mets fans it’s a little simpler. They just want to know what happened to their team.

The Mets have pretty much blown the season, going from first place to out of playoff contention in a miserable August that also irritated their new owner, who went on Twitter to question his team’s lack of hitting.

If Steve Cohen was channeling his inner Steinbrenner to light a fire under his underperforming team, it didn’t work. Going into the last day of the month, the Mets had won only eight games in August and are playing like they won’t win many more in September.

So, of course, they decided to blame the home fans.

After hitting a home run for a rare win Sunday at home, Javier Baez signaled two thumbs down to the grandstands as he made his way around the bases. Also giving the signal during the game were Francisco Lindor and Kevin Pillar.

The convoluted logic behind the signal? That players were going to give it back to the fans just as they got it.

Or something like that.

“When we don’t get success, we’re going to get booed,” Baez said. “So they’re going to get booed when we have success.”

Unfortunately, Baez doesn’t seem to understand that fans are responsible for at least some of that success. If they don’t buy tickets, don’t subscribe to Mets broadcasts, he doesn’t get the $11.6 million he’s being paid this year to play infield, first for the Cubs and now the Mets.

You can get away with a lot as a major league ballplayer. But you can’t go after the fans who pay your salary without suffering consequences.

Two thumbs down might not be the equivalent of the proverbial finger. But it’s close, and team officials were quick to warn players that booing is the right of everyone who buys a ticket.

No, fans aren’t perfect. They say things at the wrong time and boo when it’s not always entirely deserved. Some drink too much, which makes their lips even looser.

But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that fans are as much a part of the fabric of sports as are players.

They matter, and right now they matter more than ever.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts on the sideline after a play during the first half of ...
Associated Press

Ga Tech fires Geoff Collins in 4th season with 10-28 mark

ATLANTA (AP) — Geoff Collins is out as Georgia Tech’s football coach, fired Monday in the midst of his fourth season after failing to make headway with a brash plan to turn the Yellow Jackets into a national powerhouse through branding and promoting Atlanta’s big-city culture. Collins was officially dumped during a meeting of the […]
2 days ago
FILE - Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver gestures to Indiana Pacers' Danny Granger after Granger mis...
Associated Press

Minus owner Sarver, Suns return for another run at NBA title

PHOENIX (AP) — All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul, along with freshly paid Deandre Ayton and coach Monty Williams, are back together for another run at an elusive NBA title. One man who apparently won’t be along on the journey — team owner Robert Sarver. The Suns met in downtown Phoenix on Monday for media […]
2 days ago
University of Kentucky men's basketball head coach John Calipari stands on the sidelines during the...
Associated Press

Kentucky moves scrimmage to E. Kentucky for flood relief

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods. The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief. Wildcat […]
2 days ago
Christian Pulisic follows the game from the bench during the international friendly soccer match be...
Associated Press

US coach Berhalter: ‘We got our butts kicked’ by Japan

Christian Pulisic and Ricardo Pepi will join the U.S. starting lineup for the Americans’ last World Cup warmup against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night after coach Gregg Berhalter admitted “we got our butts kicked” by Japan last week. The 14th-ranked U.S. failed to get a single shot on target in Friday’s 2-0 defeat to No […]
2 days ago
President Joe Biden holds up a jersey during an event celebrating the 2021 World Series champion At...
Associated Press

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said Monday the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration. Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White […]
2 days ago
United States' Betnijah Laney looks to pass the ball as South Korea's Kim Jinyeong watches during t...
Associated Press

New York Liberty, WNBA players populate World Cup rosters

SYDNEY (AP) — New York has long been known as a melting pot, a city of diversity. That moniker also works for the city’s WNBA franchise, the New York Liberty, which has seven players competing in the women’s World Cup for five different countries. Overall, there are 27 players in Sydney who competed this season […]
2 days ago
Column: Two thumbs up for fans making themselves heard