Booing the opponent, for whatever reason, is perfectly acceptable and almost always warranted. Encouraged, even.
Heck, in cases such as Brian Wilson, deplorably decked out in his turncoat Los Angeles Dodgers blue, or teammate Yasiel Puig, for his mere Puig-ness, booing might as well be mandatory. It simply has to be done.
Booing your own, though? Bad idea all the way around, except in rare and clear instances.
Your guy loafs down the line after hitting a lazy fly ball to shallow left field, or fails to hustle back on defense after getting his pocket picked at half court? By all means, let him have it. Lack of hustle and/or respect for the game merits vocal, vociferous admonition from anyone and everyone. Stiffing a kid seeking little more than a signature or a brief acknowledgement of his or her admiration is grounds for a little shower of indignation, too.
Short of that, however, there’s no excuse for targeting an individual athlete competing for your team and representing your school, city, region or country. It simply can’t do any good for anyone involved. Tempting as it might be, booing a guy for his .078 batting average a couple weeks into the season, or for dropping a sure touchdown pass — as long as the effort is there — could, in fact, have a subtle psychological impact that actually prolongs whatever performance issues are at hand.
The restrictions on booing your own can be eased if the vitriol is aimed at the collective, of course. In the latter stages of a desultory performance that’s headed toward another embarrassing beatdown at the hands of an inferior Eastern Conference cellar-dweller, for instance, Warriors fans have the green light. Ditto Sharks fans — and this one’s strictly hypothetical, though it’s happened — fed up with a series of consecutive power plays that net exactly nothing even attempted on net.
But booing your own team simply because it’s in the thick of one of the inevitable rough patches that come with a long season? Again, as long as sincere and all-out effort is being exerted, it’s everything we want sports not to be: negative and potentially destructive.
And save your “I bought the right to boo; I’m paying their salaries” nonsense. Being a consumer buys you no such right, so whether it’s regarding the guy who fails to get a runner home from third with one out or the kid who puts mayo on your sandwich when you clearly asked for mustard-only, go easy.
In one way or another, we all pay each other’s wages. So let’s reserve the ripping for special occasions — Wilson trotting out the visitors’ bullpen at AT&T comes to mind — and instead pay a little respect.
SPEED ROUND: It’s unfair to label Andrew Bogut as soft because nobody can know what he’s truly feeling or thinking, but it’s certainly time to ditch the “Tough SOB” tag with which he came from Milwaukee. Tough SOBs throw on a flak jacket when the playoffs roll around and snarl, “Let’s go kick some ass.” ... Anyone who still thinks Aldon Smith’s rehab and recovery were legit should have to serve as his tackling dummy whenever his immense talent again gets him back on the field before he’s ready. Emphasis on “dummy.” ... Sadly, we’re almost all out of true heroes in sports, but there’s plenty of room in that exclusive club for the people we’re seeing honored in Boston. May they all enjoy next week’s race with a sense of peace and pride.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon on The Game (95.7 FM).