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We’ve all watched a game in which a player with a peculiar sounding name will hear the boo birds upon coming to the plate. Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis? “yooooooouuuuuuu”; White Sox 2B Tadahito “Gooch” Iguchi? “Goooooo”; Aaron Boone? “Booooo” – wait a minute… – at any rate, you get my point.

choo.jpgThis phenomenon is not exclusive to baseball, it happens in stadiums across the American landscape. And even though you’d imagine Indian’s Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo getting the boo-as-cheer treatment because of his name; sadly that wasn’t the case last week.

Before being called up on Tuesday, Choo did hear the boos. But what’s disturbing is that he wasn’t rained on with jeers for his performance, or because of a heated rivalry between AAA Buffalo (the Indians’ affiliate) and the Toledo Mud Hens. He heard them for a different, but very wrong reason:

Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, promoted to the big leagues Monday by the Indians, has heard boos before.

Last week, the boos took on a disturbing tone. When Class AAA Buffalo, the Indians’ top farm club, played in Toledo, fans apparently associated him with […], the Virginia Tech senior who killed 32 of his schoolmates before killing himself April 16.

“Some fans said bad things,” said Choo before Monday’s game. “It’s pretty close to my name. My name is spelled Choo, and his name is […].”

How unfortunate that this kind of situation presents itself; but I’d say it takes something like this to expose where society is most vulnerable. It’s a matter of asking oneself: “why would a minor leaguer have anything to do with the individual that perpetrated the Virginia Tech campus last week?”

Nothing. So why boo him? Why harass him?

For the Indians, though, it wasn’t the only connection to the shootings.

Steven Bumbry, son of former Indians coach Al Bumbry, is a freshman outfielder at Virginia Tech.

“About a half hour after the news about the shootings was televised, I called Steven to see how he was doing,” said Johnny Goryl, advisor to the Indians player development department. “He was in the dorm right next to the one where the first two students were killed. I told him to stay in his room until he heard from school officials.”

At this point, I think, any discussions about the VT shootings should be grounded on what can be done to move on. Booing and harassing a player because he has a Korean sounding name, is not one of them.

No Responses to “Days later, an unwelcomed link between the VT shootings and baseball”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, a .220 BA/BIP average seems low to me. Unless I’m screwing this up, a starting pitcher with average strikeout numbers can easily attain 140Ks over 200 IPs (a little over 5.7K/9). Within those 200 IPs, let’s say he faced 850 batters, and walked 80 (including HBPs) for a BB/9 ratio of 3.6, and allowed 30HRs. I think these are plausible numbers, and would come out to 600 batted balls in play (eliminating walks, Ks, and HRs). If this same pitcher had a .220 BA/BIP, he would have allowed 162 hits (132 non-homeruns). That’s a .210 batting average against, which would probably put him among the top of the league.

    Am I screwing this up?

  2. Paul Moro says:

    Either way, though, your point still stands. Matsuzaka has still been unlucky. I’d be interested to see what his BA/BIP splits are with men on base. Is he really ineffective out of the set position? Probably won’t know until he makes a bunch more starts, I guess. Sample size is too small.

  3. Nick Kapur says:

    Ack, that was a typo. You are totally right – average BA/BIP is about .290.

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