Eric: So talk me down a little bit. Last night was very nearly a sit in your bedroom in the dark drinking a twelve pack and listening to the same Wilco record for six hours type of night. Somehow, I pulled through. Lean On Me came over the radio in the car as I drove home from the bar. Perspective doesn’t really work in those situations, but maybe a little bit of tenderness, a little bit of soul music does.
Anyway, after games like last night’s, and really an entire shattering weekend of sports, I begin to question the role fandom has in my life. Maybe it’s just a weird reaction. I intellectualize to cope. So here’s the question: Is it worth it? Fandom is 90 percent misery. You open a bit of your heart only to have it whacked across the room by a man with a 33 inch Louisville Slugger. So what are we doing? Why do we put ourselves through it — after all, the identities of these teams are arbitrary. Seinfeld said we’re rooting for laundry. If not that, geography? But you and I both choose not to live in the cities of our favorite baseball teams. What the hell, Ted?
Ted: Eric, it’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be oooooo-kay. What you have described to me are not only the trappings of fandom, but also the trappings of love. Since the dawn of time (an era very accurately depicted by Jack Black and Michael Cera in Year One) man has hurled himself into emotionally risky situations. Simply put, it’s worth it. The risk of engagement is worth a) the crush of disappoint and more importantly b) the thrill of victory. You know it with the rush endorphines on that first kiss, and you know it when your team clinches the playoffs and maybe if the gods are with you the World Series. This is what we humans do. Besides, what else is there? Chess in the park? Maybe you’d prefer to be a human battery in the Matrix? Incidentally, I’ve been doing some pretty serious conspiracy theory research, and one alien expert in the 90s described humans in relationship to the alien species that live under the earth as being “bags of food.” So things could be worse, and they are, according to this guy (editor’s note: he was also a racist and sexist and totally insane). In this context, I’ll restate it to say that we are bags of food to the species of anxiety, doubt, pleasure, and purpose that live in our brains.
So, like I would say to a buddy who feels tremors in the foundations of his relationship with a high school sweetheart: just take a deep breath, it might not be as bad as it seems. Things can turn around, you’re being overdramatic. Do some pushups, write a letter to Vin Scully. You know, things that make you feel good. Anyway, it’s only a 2-game deficit. It’s not over yet.
Okay, now that you’re back: I talked to a guy the other night who thought that CC was going to fall apart under the pressure of the playoffs. He’s looked pretty great so far, and this guy totally agreed with me about Posada and Molina, so he seems smart. Thoughts? And this postseason continues to offer up some really special game-winning hits and circus tricks, no?
And well, alright, I’ll turn the dagger again: as a fan, would you rather lose a blowout or a game-losing hit, a la Rollins last night? Sorry. Just answer the question.
Eric: You are one cruel SOB. You remove the machete from my chest with gentle precision, only to turn and giggle to your friends on the other side of the room, and then shove it back in three inches deeper. But I will answer your questions. In the immediate aftermath, the walkoff loss a la Rollins is much worse. But then with a little perspective, you realize that there’s a lot less shame in that kind of loss. Also, with that kind of loss means you actually got to enjoy a baseball game for three hours, whereas with the the blowout, there’s no pleasure to be found at any point. So in retrospect, I’ll take the hard-fought heart breaker. Those kinds of losses are what it takes, I suppose, to remind a man that good or bad he is more than just a giant bag of food.
Anyway, when it comes to the Yankees, it sounds like your friend is, no offense, an idiot. What on earth would make him think that CC would suck in the postseason? One bad start with the Brewers? He handled the pressures of being a New Yankee this year with even more than his usual heavy grace, and once you get that done it really ain’t so hard. Postseason? To a guy with his stuff/confidence? Whatever says old CC.
One of my favorite parts of the playoffs in any sport is deciding who to root for as the scenarios unfold. We’re down to 4 teams now. 1 of whom I adore, and 3 of whom i abhor. If things go badly Wednesday (or Friday or Saturday), I’ll have to take stock. I think I previously asked how you pick a team with no horse in the race. When the one you’re riding drowns, you’re given no choice but to change horses in midstream. How do you switch? NL/AL loyalty? Geography? Random prejudice?
Ted: When picking a new playoff team to root for, there are two distinct options: 1) you root for the team that beat you. When they win, you can say that you were beaten by the best, or 2) you root for every other team, as an act of petty revenge.
For the record, I disagreed with this guy about C.C., but it was one of the more controversial statements I’d heard in some time. Also, he is a Red Sox fan. But also, he admitted that he was a huge fan of Posada and Mariano Rivera. And he was from Panama, so when he said the names Posada and Rivera it sounded fantastically musical and lent a certain weight to his arguments (which I agreed with anyway). Also, he told me never to tell any of his friends that he said any of that, except the C.C. part. So his assertion that C.C. would flop may have been an overcompensation for his clear affinity for other prominent Bombers. These things are complicated.
To pursue the tangent, is there a better baseball conversation than one in which one of the participant says something ridiculous and totally wrong? You can see it in their eyes, the lighting of the fuse and the watching while you blow your lid. And you are happy to oblige and go ballistic with streams of logic and aesthetic argument. This friend is unlikely to bend or he wouldn’t have lobbed the original blaspheme to begin with.
Eric: When picking a new playoff team to root for, I normally choose option 1. But this year, if it comes to it, I will pick option 2. Petty revenge is hard to beat.
And those baseball conversations, yes, they descend like gifts from the heavens. Intellectual supremacy at our fingertips, to be picked like a low-hanging apple at the end of Autumn. You can blow your lid, and just wipe the floor with the guy, you can remain calm and mock him quietly, you can just tell him plainly that he’s wrong. There are so many ways to assert ones superiority when chatting with the immensely incorrect. Good times.