It might be time for the Rays to give Grant Balfour an extended vacation on the disabled list with a sore left attitude.
During the 11th inning of Tuesday night’s loss to the Tigers, Balfour had one of his worst performances of a season full of horrible performances. He faced four batters, walking three. He threw 12 pitches with only two in the strike zone. One of those strikes was a triple and the other was a foul ball on a ball out of the strike zone.
Here is the final pitch to Victor Martinez. That’s not even close.
While that was bad, Balfour wasn’t done. After that pitch to Martinez, Joe Maddon came out and pulled Balfour.
What happened next was not shown on the Rays’ broadcast.
As Balfour was walking off the field, boos could be heard from the fans. After Sun Sports went to commercial, Balfour appeared to sarcastically tip his cap to the fans.
Coincidentally, this came on the same day that Maddon criticized Rays fans for booing Jake McGee, noting that “That kind of reaction should never happen at your ballpark.” Maddon called the booing by Rays fans “unconscionable.”
No matter what your stance is on booing* what players can’t do is react negatively to the fans who help pay their salaries. Players will never win that battle, even in Tampa Bay, and especially when the player is playing horribly.
Last week, Joe Nathan of the Tigers was forced to apologize after making a gesture towards fans who were booing him. And that was during a game the Tigers won and he recorded the final out.
Balfour went Mad Australian on a Gatorade cooler in the dugout (via @WorldofIsaac). These antics are fun when the player doing them is playing well. But when it happens after three walks in the 11th inning of a loss, it just looks childish and classless.
Joe Maddon cannot be happy.
* I personally don’t boo players and would prefer others don’t. But I am not going to rip paying customers for being emotional.