When John Lannan makes his debut as an opponent in Washington, it will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts. Lannan pitched 783 2/3 innings for the Nats, amassed a 103 ERA+, and was the team’s best starter in 2008 and 2009. He did this over 6 of the team’s 8 seasons, making him the longest tenured National other than Ryan Zimmerman. He didn’t choose to leave, he was told he’d been surpassed by others and was asked to leave, so there should be no ill will towards him. That being said, he wasn’t a great player, probably at best a #5 starter/swingman, so there shouldn’t be too much tearing of hair and rending of garments over his departure.
Nats fans haven’t really had to deal with this kind of situation before – not many guys who were any good have left this team, and the few of them that have (Dunn, Soriano) didn’t go to NL teams immediately, let alone NL East teams. They also didn’t have much tenure with the team. Lannan, meanwhile, is now on the current most hated rival, the Phillies. So what should be done? Here’s a guide
1. In his Nats Park debut as a Phillie, he deserves a round of applause. Not a smattering of applause, legitimate cheering. I’m not sure you need to stand for it, but feel free to if you’d like.
2. After his first pitch, he no longer deserves any cheering whatsoever (unless he does something spectacular and you have to grudgingly respect his play)
3. (And this is the most important point) There is no need to boo him unless he does something like throw at a player’s head or *gasp* throws over to first too much. In other words, he isn’t a target of derision any more than Kyle Kendrick at this point.
Raucous boos for a mediocre pitcher that was let go by your team belittles the fanbase. Lustily booing Lannan makes it appear as if you really miss him and wish he stayed, because he was such a great player. Booing a guy that your management didn’t re-sign is even sillier, it’s almost like you’re booing management. But it’s not because you want to boo your management, it’s because you’re too stupid to realize what they’ve done. No need to act like a Red Sox fan.
4. He is now to be treated as any other similar player on a hated rival. Unless you are one of those super crazy fans that will boo Freddy Galvis in every AB or B.J Rosenberg whenever he pitches, Lannan should be of no more concern to you than any other opponent.
That’s it, four simple rules to how to deal with this departure. Maybe you disagree and want to boo your head off for a guy that meant something to the franchise and was discarded. I probably can’t convince you otherwise. But to everyone else, he deserves recognition when he returns, then little else in either direction.