Showing posts with label liberated fandom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label liberated fandom. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why We Watch

The blown call during last night's game got a lot of deserved attention. Something that seems so obviously to fix yet baseball drags its collective feet. On Twitter, I took a bunch of heat for coming out (going out of my way?) to say blown calls don't really bother me. When Encarnacion was called out at the plate, I was disappointed that the rally fizzled and we all missed a chance to see Papelbon suffer.

When the gifs and images showing EE in fact did "tag" the plate with his right leg1, my reaction didn't really change. I simply cannot muster too much ire for blown calls and human error.

I freely admit I don't watch baseball the same way now as I did years ago. It doesn't have as much to do with my job as it does the way baseball re-introduced itself to my life.

Life in its very early twenties took me away from baseball in terms of following closely and obsessively. Work life brought me back. The day-to-day, the constant presence from April to September. Then I found the blogosphere and it was over. An opportunity to learn and think and debate and laugh and do all kinds of things adult working life goes out of its way to discourage. And here we are today.

The destination matters but so does the journey. The outcome of any given game of the 162 games a year I watch (give or take many) means a little less. It's all about the moments, the things I remember and take away that separate a random game against the Red Sox in July from the other 60 games against the Red Sox in the last five years.

Do you think you'll remember the score of Roy Halladay's return to Toronto? Do you think you'll remember — without straining — who started for the Jays or the inconsistent strike zone in five years?

I'm pretty damn sure you'll remember Jose Bautista hitting that home run.

It's a moment like that which makes two decades of 80-win seasons easy to take. Christ, being a sports fan isn't hard, nor is it tortuous. It's amazing. That Jays fans have this incredible pool of talented and funny people to bounce ideas off and debate with is something I wouldn't trade for anything.

Again: forgive me for not griping about the blown call or Fenway's bandbox dimensions or rush hour traffic or the weather. Some of these things will be taken care of in time, until then I leave my panties unbunched.

If that makes me dispassionate or affected, so be it. I certainly don't feel dispassionate when things within control of the Jays like personnel decisions, lineup construction and mancrush acquisitions drive me up the wall or keep me awake at night. The (error-based) outcome of one game of one hundred and sixty-two in a rebuilding season? It won't have the same impact. Sorry.

1 - EE touching home plate with his right leg seems a wholly coincidental action to me, caused by spinning off Tek's blocking leg. The ump clearly anticipated the play and focused more on EE's left leg, where the tag eventually came. Not saying it's right, just trying to understand how or why this ump blew this call.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

False Dilemma Season

All I have to say is this:

If you can't divorce yourself, for one night, from the arbitrary decision to root for a specific baseball team with all your might, I feel genuinely sorry for you.

If you deem it pathetic that baseball fans, watchers, appreciators or notice-ers followed the best pitcher they've ever seen, the best to ever pull on the uniform, I feel sorry you too.

Look, I pretty much assume myself to be too cool for everything, but watching Roy Halladay pitch for the last ten years is not something I toss aside because he changed teams. This isn't Ted fucking Lilly or some other moderately competent pitcher checking into town for a few years and shuffling off. It isn't even Jason Frasor recording the final out for the 2012 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Roy Halladay is a transcendent pitcher whom we all bragged to American friends about enjoying for so many years. That doesn't just shut off because he switched teams.

Cheering for the Jays as we all do shouldn't preclude us from acknowledging some things as bigger than teams and running deeper than rooting interest. Baseball is fun, and watching Roy Halladay — no-hitter or otherwise — is a shitload of fun. I won't exclude myself from enjoying something truly great and special because his hat is now a different color. And I won't apologize for it either.

Should it have been in Toronto? Should he have stayed a Jay? Who cares. If you think any of these athletes owe you or the teams they play for a single thing, you're wrong. They entertain, we invest. Don't tell me something is bittersweet because it didn't happen in the stadium closest to your house.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quick, Dirty, Ill-Conceived Thoughts

Remember how it always seemed that Roy Halladay struggled against the free-swinging Rays and Angels while (seeming) to carve up the patient Sox and Yanks? Like the chumps waiting for their walks ended up muttering on their way back to the dugout while the infernal Rays & Angels stood smugly on second base? Maybe, just maybe, that bodes well for the freest of free-swinging Blue Jays. Everything is around the plate, maybe the overwhelming bat speed and contact making abilities of the Jays will win the day?

That would be pretty swell, I guess. I more or less refuse to turn my back on the great pitcher because he changed shirts. Pitching does it for me (too), and watching so the thought of innumerable whiffs and Vernon Wells Brand Headshakes and Hurled ProfanitiesTM kind of excites me.

If it means the Jays lose, so be it. If Halladay strikes out 15 tonight, I'm just as happy. I watch for the show, for the execution. And nobody does it better.

Of course, should Mister Vernon Wells get on top of a poorly-placed cutter over the heart, riding it out of Citizen's Bank Park like an over-refreshed Jersey girl in a Chase Utley shersey, I'll shout, scream, and pretty much lose my shit all over my house. I'm fickle that way.

AP Photo by Daylife and somesuch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting Nerdy

While nearly everyone and their sister visits Fangraphs, I wonder how many actually stick around and read the posts. If you don't, you're surely missing out as the gale-force blasts of levity provided by Carson Cistulli. His work is nothing short of brilliant. Look no further than the Cistulli-created NERD system; a ranking of the watch-ability of various starting pitchers.

Completely in-line with the founding (if slightly neglected) philosophies of Ghostrunner on First, I thought I'd lay out the Jays starting staff by NERD, mostly to see if my guts match up.

For reference, here is Cistulli's NERD definition/calculation:
To calculate NERD, I found each pitcher’s z-score (standard deviations from the mean) for cats 1-3*. I multiplied the xFIP score by 2, divided both the swinging strike and strike percentage scores by 2, and then added Luck to the total.

* - ed note: categories 1-3 are pitching ability by xFIP, swinging strike rate, and percentage of strikes thrown
Pretty awesome, no? This set of criteria seems pretty common among baseball fans. No doubt many of us hate a guy like Dice-K as he's impossible to watch. Conversely, the big red-head that used to hang out around here....well, let's move on.
  • Ricky Romero - 9
  • Brandon Morrow - 8
  • Shaun Marcum - 7
  • Brett Cecil - 7
Personal heartstrings aside, this adds up to me. Ricky Romero is a quick working whiff machine yet to reach his ceiling. Cecil's rating actually improved from the NERD launch to this past week, thanks I'm sure to his increased emphasis on strike throwing. Not listed here but worth noting: Dana Eveland's NERD score is 0. None.

The spreadsheet of magical nerdiness includes 2009 numbers, showing Scott Richmond and Brian Tallet as solid 4s. No data for Jesse Litsch but I'd guess 3 or 4, which likely means he'd actually be a 7.

The 2010 version of the Blue Jays bullpen would likely rank somewhere between 0 and negative a billion thanks to their seeming attraction to missed spots. Contrast that with the bullpens of the White Sox or Padres, who provide endless entertainment and confidence among their fanbases.

I think the ChiSox pen might actually break the Nerd scale, with their endless parade of bat-missing hulks straight out of Baseball Bugs. Each guy throws harder than the last, they miss innumerable bats and come across downright mean. That the White Sox pen features detestable dudes like JJ Putz and Bobby Jenks.

Guys like David Purcey (and Brandon League) are complete NERD fodder, owed to their constant presence in the "underperform their xFIP" realm. Scott Downs is admirable without being really lovable, while Shawn Camp's "I can't believe he's getting away with this charm" breaks down even the stodgiest non-believer.

Let's open this up: what skills and attributes do you look for in a starter? Is being good —by hook or by crook —good enough? When does one cross the line from endearingly promising to GTFO-frustration?

Carson Cistulli's NERD via Fangraphs, his brain via some very expensive institutions of higher learning, me thinks. Image from Reuters via Daylife.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Round Fleshbot

Everybody relaxxx. The randomly selected quote from one of Roy Halladay's advisers claims Halladay won't approve a trade once Spring Training is under way. While this may be (almost assuredly) false, we don't have to worry. See even if the Jays don't trade or re-sign Roy Halladay, they'll get draft picks for him! Picks are valuable you see. You turn nothing into something.

Except draft picks probably aren't nearly as valuable as we think. They definitely aren't as valuable as we want them to be. They say the baseball draft is an inexact science, different from the NBA or NFL drafts where young studs are widely acknowledged and impact their new teams almost immediately.

Except the baseball draft is a VERY exact science. Draft in the top half of the first round or else the talent is gone. Period. Just because the NCAA hasn't parlayed the luscious ting of aluminum bats into a national TV deal with a catchy name doesn't mean the future stars and contributors aren't as clear as day.

Look at the incredible amount of research done on the draft. Players taken outside the top 20 provide 0.24 WAR per year on average. Over 6 years that is a whopping 1.5 WAR. That, well, sucks. That is anything but a sure thing. Or consider this graph relating draft position to lifetime WAR. Any player taken outside the first round is lucky to provide the equivalent of two league-average years for their entire career.

The Jays own raft of picks in the up-coming draft. Is it a great opportunity to restock the minors? Of course. But hoping for the Jays to draft the entire 2015 starting lineup is nothing more than wishful thinking. The fact of the matter is any picks outside the top 10 or 15 end up being mostly trivial.

The teams look at the picks financially, fans can't or shouldn't waste their time with that. We should do some fanmath. Consider the emotionally investment you have in Roy Halladay, now create a dollar figure for it. What are the chances you will end up that invested in a future sandwich pick? Pretty slim. Subtract the resentment we'll all feel for whomever comes back for Halladay and I feel like we (I?) can't win. The appreciation and enjoyment we get from watching Roy Halladay pitch is a sunk cost. We're just going to swallow it.

So yeah, get mad that Halladay is on his way. We should be mad. A player that, by all accounts, loves playing in Toronto and always has is on his way out. Get mad at thought of him wearing pinstripes or a pink B hat because of the inability of his supporting cast to get him over the hump. Get madder still at the thought of douchebags booing him because of it. Looking on the bright side is one thing; failing to reflect on what we're losing is another, far too callous for even my tastes. We'll miss you Roy, even when we've still got you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

All Star Break Offers No Break from Incessant Hand-Wringing

Father & Son Day at the All Star Game
Holy shit. Enough. Three more days of hystarical overreactions, of baseless speculation, or woe-is-me-ing? I think I'll pass. Should we be taking this opportunity to realize how lucky we are to have Roy Halladay now and the past 10 years? Shouldn't we celebrate his becoming just the third Jay to start the All Star game, meaningless as it may be? I can't take any more of this horseshit, from either side.

The first letter from Griff's "emergency Halladay bonusbag - now with more D-bags" was all I needed to see before quickly closing the tab.
Could you tell J.P. Ricciardi for me that if he trades Roy Halladay, I will never attend another Blue Jays game? And no, I don't care if the package he gets includes Tim Lincecum, Ryan Braun, and Hanley Ramirez put together.
Now nobody likes Roy Halladay more than I do, nobody else puts for the same crazed "ironic detachment" front like I do, but even I wouldn't suggest that trading Roy Halladay would be the end of my Blue Jays fandom. What did this clown from Oshawa do before Halladay arrived? Apparently nothing, as Roy Halladay is the beginning and end of his attachment to the team. It is this type of hyperbole and idiocy that keeps JP's job from being possible. In this fan's eyes, trading the franchise cornerstone is akin to committing commercial and public relations suicide. It just isn't so.

The news of Scott Rolen being quietly shopped cuts me to the core, but that doesn't mean I'll be off the Jays forever. The lack of internal replacements will hurt the team on the field, and the lack of greatness before my eyes will be impossible to replace, but don't fit me for a Red Sox hat quite yet. This is part of the deal. If you're a sportsfan, you take the ups with the downs. The sense of entitlement is sickening. Get a life.

It Gets Worse

Update: here's the link to the show. Farraway goes off 3/4 of the way through.

Speaking of entitlement and idiocy, I was unfortunate enough to hear the WORST quasi-populist appeal to the lowest common denominator of my young life on the Fan this afternoon. Sports Director Doug Farraway went off on a thoughtless tirade clearly and cynically aimed at firing up the kind of people angered by other men's successes.

With Gary Bettman's salary figures going public, the Director saw fit to tee off on Bud Selig and his exorbinant salary. His ridiculous platform included some relativistic gems like "ZOMG! The President of the USA only makes $400 000 yet Bud makes $18 mil!! " and quoting at length from Selig's wikipedia page. Really? I won't even address the obvious differences in the public and private sectors or the editorial morass of Wikipedia, but Farraway really got going when he stated baseball is "suffering" from the steroid scandals and cancelled World Series. Yup, the owners currently watching their franchise values approach 10 digits are clearly suffering and should be quick to oust Selig. Yeah, the owners must hate the wildcard for the extra TV and gate revenues it generates. The players are struggling too. Not to mention MLB as a business entity itself, with its incredibly valuable advanced media arm and wildly successful new television station.

The entire exercise was such a waste of time and energy. It was so blatant and insincere, I had a hard time listening. His elimination of American and National league offices and presidents as well as separate umpiring entities really did the game a disservice, eh Dougie? I know I long for the days of petty provinciality and warring factions among the game's guardians. The blind eye he turned to steroids? I remember so fondly when you broke the story to tear the cover off baseball's hidden shame. I'm sure were you sports director in 1998 you'd have sent a TEAM of reporters chasing the mere sniff of a one-on-one interview with Mark McGwire's bat boy, gardener, shoe polisher or jockstrap washer. High farce as the steroid policy may be, he DID toughen it from "none" to "some."

This is how inane this rant was: I'm forced to defend Bud Selig! He may not do much right in the fan's eyes, but he certainly made a lot of people rich. Rich people LOVE being rich, and will often give you some of their riches in hopes you will continue to make them rich. Which is why Bud makes a lot of money and will continue to do so. If you're going to attack him head of radio station guy, maybe ask him for some cash so you can rent a leg to stand on.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Understanding GROFappeal

This is a most interesting time of year. The GM meetings and all the rumours they entail nicely coincided with the dawning of a new epoch in North American politics and hopefully life. Watching a man do what he does best, what he does better than anyone else is what Ghostrunner on First is all about.

Yes, I love the Blue Jays and they are the base point and reason this space exists. I love when they win and die a little when they lose. But for me, it is really about the individuals. The players that jump off the screen and perform to the peak of their unique abilities. The convergence of skill and effort, the rare combination of skills that so few can claim as their own. These are the types of players I am often drawn to, the kind I wish I could watch every day.

The glorious bastards at The Southpaw have an excellent eye for talent. They're often proposing and suggesting potential Blue Jays targets that are either players I've considered myself or players that I've long admired. They were stumping for Milton Bradley all the way back in May. They share my great love of Khalil Greene. These players, despite their obvious differences, have one big thing in common: value added. Milton Bradley is more than just a guy with 160 OPS+, he's an enigmatic timebomb that has been misunderstood and maligned his entire career. Khalil Greene's potentially explosive bat and once great defense hit all my key points.

As I said, it is important to me that the Jays win, but perhaps more important is that they're interesting. They don't have to be "characters" to be interesting, they can just be great. Even at just one thing. John MacDonald is (or was) as one-dimensional a ballplayer as you'll find. One thing he is not? Boring. As this Hot Stove season wears on, I'll be hoping the Jays can land a key piece that might improve their fortunes. I'll also be hoping they bring in somebody that make me scratch my head and wonder if I believe my own eyes.


As you might assume, there isn't much baseball happening on the weekends during the offseason, so I won't be doing my regular weekend gig at Walkoff Walk. I'll still be contributing regularly there all winter long, hopefully 3-4 posts during week until the horsehide is tossed in anger once again. So keep checking it out, every day!

Also, the good people at Mop Up Duty have launched a new look and a new, more Jaysy focus. The layout looks much better and the writing's as strong as ever. Head their way to learn what a real man looks like.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Most Morally Satisfying Victory of All

It could kill my blogger persona, but I don't really hate the Red Sox. I really, really hate the right side of their infield and their closer, that much is true. But to say I "hate" the Sox would be inaccurate.

Call me the victim of 6 years of Simmons reprogramming, wall-to-wall TV coverage, and a roster full of characters like Manny and Papi, but I only dislike them as much as being a Jays fan demands of me.

I feel similarly about the Rays. Carlos Pena is awesome and apparently a good dude. Longoria - awesome. Upton - awesome. Both these teams are tough to hate. I didn't really care who won the ALCS. I'm happy it's a team I've deemed legitimate, not a so-called shitty team like Angels or Twins. Matt Garza's ALCS MVP win somehow validates the Blue Jays struggles against him all year long. The Jays finished behind the two best teams in the American League this year, I'm at peace with their fourth place finish.

That kind of validation feels okay, but knowing that Rocco's going to the World Series, that is pretty awesome. He even made a contribution tonight! He may not play every night, but he's there and I have something to cheer for during the World Series. Not quite a horse in the race; more like the jockey and I are friends because I let him sleep under my deck when he's drunk.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Don't Even Know What I Believe Anymore

More to the point, I don't even know what I think anymore. While I appreciate the translation services to improve my understanding of JP's lies, and I can understand where the die-hards are coming from, I'm conflicted. When I read something aimless and critical of JP without reason other than sheer frustration, I get angry. What do you expect him to do?

I agree with Geoff Baker, optics are key in Toronto. The baseball fanbase in this city is fickle at best and hopelessly out of touch at worst. But are you willing to sell the farm in a sellers market? If the rumours are true, would you suggest trading David Purcey (middle of the rotation guy that he is) and Brandon League (freakish closer-in-waiting) for 2 months of Raul Mondesi Ibanez with hope of picks in the end? Making a do-or-die desperation trades with 5 teams to climb in the standings? The majority of teams are guarding their prospects like never before, hoarding them in the name of fiscal responsibility, armed with the realization that these deals rarely warrant any real return.

I'm not entirely comfortable with my role as JP defender. I understand the rationale behind most moves, but this team is stuck between stations. I can't really see them making a serious "push" to make the playoffs next year or ever. This business is content to float along, make money and not upset the league enough to stop the equalization payments. Winning titles simply isn't the priority that "winning enough to avoid consumer confidence issues" has become. Just as Rogers won't lower the astronomical data rates for 3G wireless customers, they won't keep increasing their baseball costs if they are already seeing a positive return. The payroll is reasonably high, but returns are reasonably low.

Is JP to blame? Is he but a victim, caught between the fans expectations and ownership's eye for the bottom line? I certainly give him a hard time, mostly because of his pompous, arrogant persona. Has he done a bad job? Not necessarily. I wish that the Carlos Delgado situation was handled differently, that the money Ted ponied up the year after his departure could have kept him a Blue Jay until this day. I don't like Eckstein, but bringing him in made sense. Not trading him and other veterans currently bench surfing seems to be a waste of everyone's time; but C-level prospects and AAA roster filler don't help anybody, nor does it entice potential low risk free agents to come to Toronto.

I guess it boils down to the nature of my fandom. While liberated in some ways, I am mostly a dogmatic Blue Jay fan. I like the Jays, and that is that. It isn't going to change, but it isn't the essence of my being. I'd like for them to be better, I'd like to know they are working toward something positive, but I will not uproot my support and move it to a more "successful" team. So yeah, they didn't make any moves, and they are essentially out of the race. JP knows what he is doing, but what he is doing is making Rogers money. Whatever.

In Brief
I'm back at Walkoff Walk this weekend, keeping my eye on all the debuts and hot weekend action. With Jason Bay going to Boston not Tampa, Rocco is clear to be the right handed bat/right fielder in September. Jays in Texas, I fear, will get ugly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Liberation Frequency

I've been wrestling with my feelings all day. Cito & JP are already talking about next year. The trade rumours swirl. Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum are on the DL. The team is still in last place, despite showing signs of life last night. Me? I still think baseball is pretty fucking great.

I mentioned liberated fandom in one of the the first ever Ghostrunner on First posts. I still feel now as I felt then. I'm not going to shout "wait til next year!" now or ever. But following the team every day, faced with a sudden lack of distance from the team and its travails has me thinking differently. Admittedly, the last two weeks in Bluejayland have been difficult to write about. The Jays fortunes and real life distractions collided at speed, resulting in the slowest GROF week yet.

I surely get caught up in the W's and L's, the slumps and the roster movement. My self-appointed role of Elitist Fuck allows me to think that I'm above all that; the riff-raff that spill their frustrations all over Wilner's lap. But I'm no different. I regurgitate the lines of true baseballmen, of the season being long and 70 games a lifetime. Players underperform, balls bounce, umpires squeeze.

One thing that will not happen, no matter how many games the Toronto Blue Jays lose, I will not cease to be entertained. My aping of the Free Darko ethos is all over this site, from the Scott Rolen defense love to worshiping a oft-injured outfielder from a division rival. I will continue to watch Adam Lind evolve and excite, I will watch hoping for a glimpse at John MacDonald donning his cap and turning into Johnny Mac. I will watch Brandon League throw gas without too much thought as to where it's going. I will pontificate about batting orders. I will dick joke at the expense of management. I will sign petitions to get Ichiro into the Home Run Derby. I will steal expensive seats on a Friday night and boo those who start the wave.

I will not, in any way, advocate trading Roy Halladay. No matter what type of haul he would yield. No amount of wins, parades or Meaningful Games in September will replace the joy and pleasure of watching him work every fifth day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Incomplete Thoughts to Complete the Week

The doom and gloom surrounding the Jays this week is nothing short of shocking. I think the most important thing for people to remember is, um, this is your entertainment. Try not to take all the fun out of it by freaking out over every win or loss. That is the point, isn't it? Fun? Good times? Playoffs and Meaningful Baseball in September would sure be nice, but do you really care that much? Be honest. I write about the Blue Jays because:
  • I love baseball.
  • I love writing cheap, crude jokes and offering my opinion on crucial issues like the height of the fences inside a baseball stadium.
Changing the world, I am not. This blog has certainly increased the enjoyment I get out of baseball, and as a creative outlet has kept me on my toes. It also keeps me from lurking in the bushes outside the house of the Japanese girl that works on the 28th floor of my building.

Baseball Players are Highly Paid Athletes Whom You'll Never Meet or Know

In their new roles as Kings of all Media, the DJF guys have embroiled themselves in a mini-rivalry with Bugs and Cranks writer Spencer Kyte. I'm sure young Spencer is a fine guy, and if branding is to believed he could be a nicer guy than the drunks, but I rarely agree with anything he writes. I'm not one to take sides, except that I'm going to side with Drunk Jays Fans.

His recent post regarding the behaviour and performance of AJ Burnett. The article itself was pretty standard "he doesn't win!" stuff, but in the comments it really fell apart. A commenter came out and stated that while on a rehab assignment, AJ was cordial and polite TO HIM, and he witnessed him interacting with the double-A guys and buying them dinner. Kyte shrugged it off, flatly stating "I think he's a dick." First hand evidence be damned, I don't like him based on the way he acts on TV and has performed relative to his seemingly large (yet now below market) contract. Aside from that, he also said the only thing that matters are Wins and Losses. True, but so little of that is in the pitcher's control blah blah stats geek blah blah context blah blah.

I may disagree with David Eckstein's inclusion in the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club, and find his approach tiresome and overrated, but I don't know a damn thing about the man. Nor do I care. Scott Rolen could drown kittens, bang my sister, and beat me in an auction for True Til Death on green and I'd still love him all the same. They're not real people as far as I'm concerned. To their wives and kids they are, but Scott Rolen=Michael Scott=Jack Sheppard=Mick Jagger.

Friday is Going to be a Great Day

Cubs in town, work is a distant memory, but more importantly ROCCO STARTS REHAB. Having completed his super extendo Spring Training, Rocco is likely to join the Vero Beach Devil Rays (A) for a rehab assignment. Could big league ball be far behind? The Rays are pretty set in the outfield, so let's grease the wheels of conjecture and make up some scenarios that will land him in Toronto. Simple put, I'd trade anyone outside of Rolen and Halladay. I certainly will not be realistic. Minor league contract?

Fun Rocco Facts!
  • Hit his first career home run off of Roy Halladay (you see! he's the chosen one!)
  • Has a highly unfortunate tattoo of the MLB logo on his calf.
  • Was nominated for the 2006 Tony Conigliaro Award given to the player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage the most Italian name possible.
  • Will be the starting left fielder for the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays, giving them the greatest defensive outfield ever assembled. Zone rating robots would explode, hearts would fill.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

'93 til Infinity

This small corner of the interweb ostensibly revolves around the Toronto Blue Jays. They are the here and the now; but mostly the here. The Jays are "our team" because they were on our TV, the radio in our car, and in our newspapers as we came to exist and came of age. We grew up supporting them because that was all we knew.

I find myself hurtling through space and time, aging seemingly by the second. My sports fandom has changed along the way, and I've had a hard time pinning down it's nature. Not quite ironic detachment, for that would make my jeans 40% skinnier and my face 100% punchable. Nor is it as meta as the liberated fandom movement which breaks the game down to isolated bursts of greatness and other abstractions. It is something different. Much like my waistband, let's say it has "expanded."

I think it works out like this: there are no meaningless games, there are only meaningless games. I have a drawer full of old ticket stubs, but I'd have a hard time telling you the score of most of them (I'll admit, this one sticks out.) I appreciate the value of wins and losses, but I appreciate having seen Johan Santana (once) and Roy Halladay (numerous times) pitch that much more.

I'm hesitant to go down the "baseball is so swell, just like Mom's apple pie..." route here. I'm not suggesting we throw out the standings, and I'm not asking why we bother keeping score. I simply want to prevent myself from getting hung up on the part of the game that has the smallest impact on my enjoyment. The only thing worse than a "I won't see you for a month because the Sox are in the playoffs" lunatic is a "I'm a long suffering Cubs Pirates Rays Rangers fan and my life is terrible!" crybaby. Baseball is unique because each game represents such a small part of the season. There is another game to watch almost every day. New matchups and new hope. Fresh opportunity to see something noteworthy, something that will make a planeload of guys headed to Vegas shout and lose their shit. To paraphrase Blogging Overload Leitch: Every game begins as a no-hitter. Every pitch could be the one that leads to something you'll never forget. It is no coincidence that the blogosphere contains so much baseball. The agonizing minutia and statistics, the what-ifs and never-weres, the long history to draw from and the future to look to. In other words, baseball is fun.

The Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series titles when I was in high school. They haven't made the playoffs since. And that is fine by me. I still watch, I still cheer, and I still pour over boxscores and read the myriad of other better blogs. You'll never hear me shout "Wait til next year!" because I'll be too busy wondering why this year has to end in the first place.