Brian Roberts deserves better from the fans
Orioles fans are an angry lot. I get that. What I don't get is the displaced - or more accurately stated, misplaced - anger currently being heaped upon injured second baseman Brian Roberts. Be frustrated about the guy's injury history, sure, but my advice to my fellow O's faithful would be to withhold judgment on his current status until we really know what's going on with the team's longest-tenured player. He's earned as much.
It's never wise to use the comments section of any website, even a newspaper's, to gauge popular opinion on a topic. Nevertheless, it surprised me to see the animosity directed toward Roberts in The Sun's comments section after he announced the cancellation of Brian's Baseball Bash, his annual fundraiser for the University of Maryland children's hospital.
Some fans seem to think that Roberts is lazy, disinterested, resting on his laurels, and/or big-timing it as he faces an injury that has affected his career and which could apparently affect his life away from the game as well.
Here's a sampling of those comments:
"There's no way this 'concussion' would prevent him from hosting this event. He played hard for us all these years but I think the money has ruined him."
"Roberts doesn't appear to feel any obligation to show up for anything these days. Just keep cashing those checks, B-Rob..."
"Brian has literally stolen money from this team the last 2 years. If the truth be told if doesn't even want to play this game again. He always reminded me of eddie haskell on leave it to beaver, put on a good show around Mrs and Mr cleaver but was a jerk when nobody was around. Funny how things work out Both him and Nick were the golden boy's and pet players of Peter A and they both completely have stolen money to the tune of 100 million from him."
"BooHoo Brian...there's plenty of GIs serving in Afghanistan right now that suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries and returned to duty far quicker for a hell of lot less money. The difference between them and Brian? Out of sense of duty they want to. Take a trip to Walter Reed or Bethesda if you're worried about charity. i have a hard time feeling sorry for these cheating Prima Donas. Especially when they suck. Give back the $10M or get your a$$ on the field and suck it up or retire."
It's not just the fans. In a rather ironic move, a rather thin-skined local reporter took a shot at Roberts during the week via Twitter, minimizing his concussion by comparing it to Ravens linebacker Sergio Kindle's cracked skull. The Tweet was later deleted.
Roberts can't win for trying in Baltimore. First it was the allegation that he was dogging it on the field, now it's the suggestion that he's giving his charity work short shrift. He answered the former allegation last season by providing a much-need spark to the lineup in the season's second half and demonstrating that the O's are a different team when he's healthy.
That type of effort is why so many people were excited when the Birds extended Roberts' contract in 2009. Consider what one fan wrote back then in a much kinder Sun comments section: "It's looking pretty much unanimous so far and I'll join the chorus, great signing! I breathed a big sigh of relief reading it." (See the difference in comments for yourself.)
These things we know about Roberts:
-He's a solid baseball player when healthy.
-He's done extensive charity work in the community for much of his career.
-He's served as the face of a downtrodden franchise and decided to stay the course when leaving would've been the easier, and potentially more lucrative, move.
This we don't know: the full extent of his current injury.
Brian Roberts has earned the benefit of the doubt from fans, some of whom have instead chosen to judge his character from afar. It's okay to hate the situation, but don't hate the man going through it.