|Image courtesy of The Star|
Will he receive a warm welcome home, or will he be booed to no end? Aside from SpyDome, that seems to be the hot topic mere hours before Vernon Wells makes his return to his former stomping grounds at the Rogers Centre.
There were some promos running on Sportsnet earlier this week which promoted Vernon’s homecoming and apparently they didn’t paint him in a very good light, which lead to some viewer complaints and in turn RSN pulled them off the air.
Even though Blue Jays fans may have the reputation of being pretty cold-blooded when it comes to former players, at least that news restored some faith that not all Blue Jays fans will boo former Blue Jays.
Having said that, I think the boos and hisses will be very audible towards Vernon Wells at the Rogers Centre this evening. Where Roy Halladay received a standing ovation in his return, I think the boos will overshadow the cheers for Wells.
It’s a shame because for someone who spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, he deserves a little more respect. He may not have been the best outfielder in Blue Jays history, but he certainly should garner a tip of the cap.
If there were ever any feelings of disdain towards Vernon Wells, it had to do with the money. After he was signed to that $126 million dollar contract extension, there was virtually no way he could ever possibly live up to it.
The way I think about Vernon Wells tenure now is … subtract the money from the equation entirely, and then look back on what he did for the Blue Jays. Bloated contracts notwithstanding, Vernon Wells was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good.
It’s impossible to ignore his giant salary, and I think that’s where I (and many fans) had a tough time separating these astronomical expectations from reality. In my mind, if Vernon Wells was going to be paid like a top-tier player, he should have played like a top-tier player.
Instead of being angry with the player, where my frustration should have been directed was towards the front office which decided to table that much money towards Vernon Wells in the first place. It wasn’t Vernon’s fault the Blue Jays wanted to give him $126 million dollars.
Vernon Wells made a lot of money during his time with the Toronto Blue Jays, but he also gave a lot of it back to the community. His work with the Perfect 10 Foundation benefited families in Toronto and his home state of Texas, and he continues to support singles mothers and children in need in Los Angeles.
Rather than sit on his pile of money and flash sports cars and a million dollar home on MTV Cribs, Vernon chose to use his money for good and help those who were less fortunate. It’s an admirable quality in a baseball player that can be hard to find in today’s age.
It can be difficult to look past the money, but if you merely look at the player himself without the dollar signs, Vernon Wells time with the Toronto Blue Jays can be looked back on as a positive era.
If you’re heading down to the Rogers Center tonight, I urge you to treat Vernon with respect and refrain from booing him. You don’t have to give him a standing ovation like Roy Halladay, just show some respect … that’s all.
Vernon may not have been one of the best Blue Jays of all time, but he was definitely one of the best overall people to put on the uniform.