Sunday, February 18, 2007

Don't boo Isringhausen

What happened last season was a result of pain in his hip and once I found that out, I stopped booing. Actually, I never was one of those that booed Isringhausen because it's not right. Now, Juan is a different story but that's another story for another day.

There is a nice article today on Isringhausen and what the boos meant to him and his family.
Pitching coach Dave Duncan has tentatively scheduled the Cardinals closer to return to game competition March 15, barring complications. There is no running in Isringhausen's spring program, and his participation in fielding practice will be restricted. No covering bases. No fielding bunts.

"We don't want to do anything that gets him sore," Duncan said.

In a perfect world, Isringhausen will recover in time from his seventh surgery ("three shoulders, two hips, two elbows") in time to close out the April 1 opener against the New York Mets.

But even if Isringhausen closes the game, takes a flip from catcher Yadier Molina and gives the game ball to a little girl behind the first-base dugout — his habit — bruises, scarring and soreness will remain.

A painful season left its mark on Isringhausen long before he was shut down Sept. 7, a Thursday on which he "celebrated" his 34th birthday during the back end of a Washington-to-Phoenix trip.

By then the Brighton, Ill., native and Edwardsville resident had become callused from booing in his home park, booing he says now prevents his wife from attending games and challenges a long-held desire to retire with the club.

"I'm still happy to be part of the Cardinals, but in a sense it has become more of a business," he said.[...]

Isringhausen explained that he pitched through the condition to allow a relatively inexperienced bullpen to stay in its assigned roles for as long as possible.

Said La Russa: "I'd like to think once the facts are in he will get the reception he deserves."

Teammates describe a player generous with advice and money. Isringhausen, who supplied the home bullpen with industrial fans last summer, also mentored a group that included two rookies and two others with less than two years' major league service.

"He's been like a second father to me," said 25-year-old lefthander Tyler Johnson, who emerged as a huge postseason factor as a rookie. "I owe a lot of what success I've had to him. It's hard for me to describe how much respect I have for him."

"In the few years I've been here, I've seen him riding unbelievably well and riding unbelievably bad. And he's the same person to those who see him every day," said Randy Flores. "You always see him answering the tough questions, facing it when things go wrong and taking responsibility."

Isringhausen's bullpen mates held to a clubhouse omerta, obliquely acknowledging his struggles but not giving him away.

Isringhausen returned on crutches to the team shortly after his Sept. 21 surgery and rode shotgun during its World Series ride. Watching Adam Wainwright close each round of the playoffs before striking out Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge to end the World Series served as a bittersweet symphony.

"I wanted to be part of the St. Louis Cardinals. I wanted to close out the World Series. I wanted to be the guy. That was the hardest part of last year. But I couldn't be more happy or prouder for Adam than anybody, except maybe his mom. And she always hugs me," Isringhausen said.

"Izzy was right there when we won and celebrated, part of it. And all of us were glad for it," Flores said. "Not everybody would have handled it like that. (Withdrawing) is a way of protecting yourself. When you're hurt, it's there every day for 24 hours. But he understands that it's part of the game. That doesn't make it any easier, but it goes to his presence as a leader."

But even the Oct. 29 celebration picked at the hurt.

"I don't like getting booed, especially loud booing. It's over now. I'm sure the first day I come out there I'll get booed again," he said. "How many people get booed at the parade?"
I thought I would take note of this excerpt right here.
He remembers being booed with the Oakland A's before coming to St. Louis. But that was different. A rabid newspaper, Internet and chat room reader, Isringhausen felt the hostility before reaching the park each day.
Now, I don't know if Jason Isringhausen reads this blog or which blogs he does read but the fact is, I didn't boo him then, I won't boo him now. I would expect that fans would give him a standing ovation on Opening Day. That's what I would do anyway.

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