Baseball, Broads*, and Booze
"I hate all sports as rabidly as a person who likes sports hates common sense." - H.L. Mencken
A nerve was hit when I read this little gem. I like Mencken, though, so didn't throw the book across the room or vow to never read him again. After all, he's right. Baseball fans often choose emotion over common sense. It's one of the beautiful things about cheering for a team, or against one. One could argue, as I often have, that being a Cubs fan shows an absolute refusal to embrace common sense. But on the other hand, we are led through the world of baseball fandom by our hearts. We often choose our favorite team because of fond childhood memories, we inherit them from our fathers our one of our favorite relatives, we meet a player once and will forever sign on with the team that gives him his last chance.
Have you ever asked, "Hey, Phil, why a Padres fan?" "Oh, because their bullpen had the leading e.r.a. from 1981 - 1987." No. And if you did, you would likely be struck dumb by such a lack of emotion and true "fan-ness."
Mencken is correct, a baseball fan often shows little common sense. But it's part of the spirit of being a fan. We will trash talk a star after one bad performance not because we truly dislike our star player, but instead because we feel betrayed in the relationship and need to unwind. We will boo obviously good strategic moves not because they don't make sense, but because we yearn for the rush that comes with getting the strike out NOW and winning NOW. We will get into heated arguments with our best friends not because we really think they are "full of shit," but because we love our team and the game; we are emotional, for Christ's sake, because we love.
We stay up late listening to radios for any word. We spend our mornings pouring over box scores. We get upset about weddings that fall during an important series. We spend hours on the phone talking about the starting rotation as if they are family members.
And yet some would rather turn this into some analytical journey through second semester statistics class. Why ruin it? Why make it more than the curious and beautiful emotional struggle it is? We choose our teams, we fall in love with women, we develop loyalty to one brand of alcohol; and this can all defy common sense, but that's why it is so wonderful. And that's why we will always want to write about it.
* "Broads" chosen for alliteration purposes.