GLENDALE AZ – New Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren was too focused on his job to realize all the hullabaloo when Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun came to bat in the first inning on Saturday.
But then it struck Haren how much Braun was getting booed as he made his way to home plate after being announced by the public address announcer at the Brewers Spring Training home in Maryvale.
“It was pretty loud,” Haren said.
To back track a bit, Braun was making his first home appearance of the spring – or taking his first at bat in front of Brewers fans since being suspended 65 games last year for finally coming clean on using performance enhancing drugs.
And the reaction was stark considering how big a fan favorite the former Granada Hills High standout is in Milwaukee after emerging as one of the best players in baseball and winning a Most Valuable Player Award.
Now he was getting booed, passionately.
There were some cheers to be sure.
But there were a lot of boos too.
Haren, standing on the mound taking it in, pointed out afterward a significant amount of Dodgers fans made the trek to Maryvale on Saturday, and that probably escalated the boo factor.
“I think it was probably all the Dodgers fans,” Haren said.
Haren knows first hand just how passionate Dodgers fans can be, having played at Chavez Ravine so many times as an opposing player over his career.
“I’ve been booed many times,” he said.
It didn’t matter he grew up in Southern California or pitched collegiality at Pepperdine.
As a professional, he was simply an opposing player donning the uniforms of the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals and Angels.
That meant he was the bad guy.
And he was treated as such.
Like the time he was minding his own business in the Cardinals bullpen during the 2004 National League Divisional playoffs against the Dodgers and realized someone threw batteries at him.
“I think they were probably Double AA’s,” Haren said. “They weren’t D’s.”
And thankfully they missed.
But it definitely opened Haren’s eyes how ardent Dodgers fans can be.
“You want to be on the Dodgers’ fans good side,” he said. “It’s a lot better that way.”