Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Put the Blame Where It Belongs

Here's the problem, Sox fans. We care too much. Walking around time in your Fenway tees and Red Sox caps, we're billboards for sorry obsession.

Sure, you love baseball in the fashion of Bart Giamatti and Bob Costas, the smell of green grass and money in the air.

Maybe you should pause to reflect upon what Giamatti actually said, “[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.” 

In other words, what we're feeling is normal.

Really, why should we care, when the feeling isn't mutual or at least universal. Sure, players bask in the reflected glory and wonderful compensation a child's game affords them. Why not? But, they have other concerns too, families missing them on road trips, finding the right investment manager, how to lever up endorsements, and of course, their golf handicap. As Ned Martin would have said, "mercy".

Players do have lives off the field. And many do good work for the Red Sox Foundation, and promote goodwill visiting sick children, raising money for charities, and so on. That really matters, and we shouldn't forget it.

But we have that nagging concern about what happens between the lines. Sure, the Sox are on a roll, keelhauling the mighty Tribe and the Mariners en route to a four game win streak. Will the real Red Sox please stand up? Are they the hapless bunch that gets punched out by the A's and the Orioles or the world beaters pummeling other also-rans?

Have the New Look Sox, led by the farmhands Will Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava turned the corner, or was this just "mean reversion" in the Weaverian sense "you're never as good as you look when you win or as bad as you look when you lose".

Maybe, it's not so simple after all. Complexity reigns in a complex world. We 'judge' players on a heuristic pair, "what have you done for me lately" and "how much do they pay you for what you do?" Consider the case of Carl Crawford. He's drawn a king's ransom, underachieved last year and got hurt this year. The performance per dollar and recent history both offend our sensibilities. Rhetoerically, should Crawford care what we think? Maybe we'd all be better off if he doesn't.

Conversely, a guy like Alfredo Aceves, gets an unfamiliar role, doesn't publicly complain, and aside from some early adjustment, has produced at a 'serviceable level, both recently and per dollar. Doesn't that make you feel better? You think that the Philly fans feel good about Jordany Valdespin taking Jonathan Papelbon yard last week?

Shakespeare summed it up, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

And so it goes. Don't blame the stars, blame yourself, for caring too much. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe you are the one that cares too much,Uber Fan