Is Rios done in Toronto? And that fan was a bum.

In today’s Toronto Sun, Steve Simmons says Alex Rios may have talked his way out of town, following the now infamous exchange with a fan this weekend:

” Alex Rios has turned into a $10-million embarrassment for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Never mind that he plays the outfield with a not-so-reckless indifference. Never mind that he has taken his five-tool gifts and squandered them with his lack of passion and apathy. Never mind that the hitting numbers aren’t anywhere near where they are supposed to be.

All that pales when compared with his foolish act of the other night, exchanging swear words with a fan after turning down an autograph request from a kid, at a charity event no less. Available in today’s technology for all to see on YouTube.

Whether management will see it this way or not, Rios essentially is done as a Blue Jay. Failing on the field can be accepted. Failing off the field reflects a certain lack of character. All the apologies in the world may not be able to correct that. ”

First of all, if you haven’t seen the clip, here it is:

In case there’s video trouble, here’s an excerpt:

“The way you played today, Alex, you can be lucky somebody wants your autograph,” a man shouted as Rios walked toward a waiting car.

“Who gives a f—?” Rios shouted back. “Who gives a f—?”

The same man then yelled “You’re a bum” three times. Rios responded with “F-you” and “You’re a f——idiot.”

Someone else in the crowd said: “You’re overpaid.” Another shouted: “You forget where you come from.”

Obviously, not a smart move, PR-wise, for Rios, who certainly isn’t having a great year at the plate (though reports of his struggles are overblown). But it also raises the question of heckling off the field. Like Simmons writes, it’s one thing to fail on the field, and another to fail off it. Rios should not be swearing at fans, and he should be signing autograph requests for kids.

But what gives that fan the right to heckle an athlete in public? In my opinion, it’s the same deal – Rios, and other athletes, need to accept that they will get booed during games, especially if they struggle. But to get called a bum on the street?? I mean, really? Athletes are people too, and there is no excuse for some idiot on the street getting under his skin, while expecting no response. I certainly wouldn’t heckle an office worker who messed up during the day, even if they screwed up an assignment. As ‘Duk writes on Yahoo! Sports:

“Rios is obviously frustrated with his freeswinging performance as of late, so it’s not too hard to imagine why he’d blow up at a bum on a sidewalk calling him a bum. (Honestly, I don’t really blame him for yelling back at someone who has nothing better to do than yell at athletes, though not signing for a few kids who were obviously waiting around for awhile earns him his sixth strikeout for the day.)”

Agreed, 100%, although I’m open to the argument that public figures should show restraint.

Well, Rios has apologized, though his public image will probably take a hit. Some, like Simmons and TSM, think he’s on his way out of town. Personally, I’m not sure. It’s one thing to trade a player – it’s another to trade a big contract, while that player is struggling. I would be fine with a trade, if the Jays get proper value back, but I’m not on the “he’s done in Toronto” bandwagon just yet. No comment yet from J.P. Ricciardi, and time will tell how this situation ends.

For what it’s worth, Rios had a nice day on the field today, going 2-4 with a pair of stolen bases, as the Jays knocked off Kansas City 4-0. Inspired by the “fan,” Alex?


Simmons is here.
‘Duk is here.

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