So screw it: We love Vernon Wells. Vernon is the best, and you chuckleheads don't even realize it. You're way too focused on his contract, and how much he gets paid, and not nearly focused enough on what a standout player he can be. It's not to say that we haven't had our frustrations with him, and we've probably torn into him a few dozen times this season. But that was before we saw the light.
Our Road to Damascus moment probably happened in the sixth inning of Sunday's game, when Wells hit into a double play. Jays fans were so overwhelmed by the need to once again show their displeasure with his performance that they barely noticed Adam Lind scoring from third on the play. The Jays go up 4-1, and the crowd goes wild with self-indulgent outrage that Wells failed.
But here's the thing, and it's the very essence of baseball that you have to understand before you get on your high horse and tear these players to shreds on each and every homestand: Baseball is a game of failure.
The best offensive players in baseball are going to fail more often than they succeed. Albert Pujols leads the Majors with a .455 on base percentage. That means that more than half the time, the Greatest Player in the Game Today heads back to the bench with nothing to show for his efforts. If you're only failing six times out of ten, you're still an All-Star. Six and a half times, and you're still a hero to your hometown fans.
As for Vernon, he's posting a .305 OBP, which is pretty lousy by his standards. But the difference between him being a bum and hometown hero is essentially one extra positive outcome every two games. That's it.
But even if Vernon were to manage that extra positive outcome, we're not sure that the patrons at the Rogers Centre would even notice. On Saturday, after he started the game with a single, a double and a run scored, the mob rained down boos after he popped up in the fifth for the first out of the inning. What the what?! Were you expecting that Wells should have a five for five day? Maybe hit for the cycle? Can't you lay off a guy for a few innings if he's done some good early in the game?
Wells didn't have a stellar week last week (5-26, one homer, two runs scored and a .577 OPS). But you know what? Even the greatest players in the game have weeks where they don't tear the cover off the ball. Albert Pujols, the same aforementioned Greatest Player in the Game Today, posted a .477 OPS and went 5-24 last week. Do you think they'd boo him out of Busch Stadium if he posted the same line next week?
It's not him, it's YOU
And for those of you who haven't been paying attention, Vernon Wells' numbers on the road this year are actually pretty impressive. When he gets away from Garbagetown, the Dome and the Larry Murphy Expulsion Through Incessant Booing Society Glee Club, Vernon puts up an .868 OPS.
And since you didn't ask, we'll tell you: That's a better number than either Lind (.865), Rolen (.818) or Hill (.782), and trails only Marco Scutaro (.873) among Jays regulars. So, you know, he's actually kinda good when he can't see or hear or smell you.
Why the difference? We couldn't tell you. Maybe it's because he hates you and your booing more than you hate him. Whatever the case, we recommend the following course of action for you Vernon Booers: Sit down, have a drink, shut the fuck up and accept that Vernon isn't going to have a positive outcome in every at bat. It will make everyone's life that much happier.