October 17th, 2003

flavored with age

Three things about baseball

1. Although I'm not a Red Sox fan, I was rooting for them last night. Since I always root for the AL over the NL, and since the Yankees are evil incarnate, I was hoping they'd pull it off over New York and go on to beat the Marlins. However, they didn't -- and you can blame it all on Grady Little.

Whether ego or incompetence or just bloody-minded stubbornness is to blame, he absolutely handed the pennant to the Yankees on a silver platter by refusing to take Pedro out. I don't blame Pedro; no pitcher ever wants to come out of the game. But it's simply unconscionable that Little left him in all the way into the 8th. This wasn't one of those situations where you're winning and then one little thing goes wrong -- a big hit by the opposition, a heart-stopping error by your fielders -- this was a slow and steady process that was obvious to everyone watching. I was sitting at my desk, screaming "take him out! Take him the fuck out? Why don't they take him out?"; and so were about ten million other people. Everyone but Grady Little was wondering why Grady Little didn't have the hook. Hit after hit piles up and Grady Little still doesn't have the hook. Incomprehensible.

This was the 7th game of the pennant series. There's no reason to save your starters; there's even less reason to let a guy go deep into the game. That's pure fucking ego. You don't cater to a guy's ego in the tightest situation imaginable. When you further consider that Boston's bullpen has been rock-solid lately, and that Tim Wakefield -- who, being a knuckleballer, could have pitched 10 innings without breaking a sweat -- was ready to go and had absolutely owned the Yankees up to this point, all you can say is: Boston fans, you better hope Grady Little gets fired. His handling of the pitching last night made Dusty Baker look like Sparky Anderson.

2. At the risk of offending a number of people I know who do this (hi, janehex!), including several close friends of mine, I have to say, I just don't understand people who root for two teams, or even more.

This seems to get more common as you go westward; its geographical nexus would appear to be the Bay Area, where you'll find tons of people who root for both the Athletics and the Giants, and it's also prevalent in LA, where I know a couple of people who self-identify as both Angel and Dodger fans. There are a lot fewer here in Chicago, where most all White Sox fans are filled with a bone-deep hatred of the Cubs and where most Cubs fans aren't even aware that the White Sox exist. There's a few people who claim to be happy as long as a Chicago team is doing well, but they're a tiny minority. And in New York, I've never met anyone who claims to be both a Yankee and a Met fan.

Being a baseball fan isn't about reason; it's pure emotion. It's love and hate. And fandom is in your blood. You root for one team, and that's your team, and because you love it, you stick with it in good and bad, because it's your team. It strikes me as, well, frivolous to have two teams. It's sort of greedy. When both do well, you get to be doubly happy; when one does well and the other doesn't, you get to dump the loser and rally behind the winner; when both to badly, you get to hog all the sympathy and say, "oh, BOTH my teams lost". Meanwhile, all us poor saps stuck rooting for one team are left at 50% efficiency. Make up your minds, already! What are you, bisexual? Picking a team makes you more of a fan, because you live and die with that team. There's no frontrunning, no jumping ship because one of your teams is doing better, no hedging your bets.

It's nothing personal; I just don't really understand it. If you're a fan of two teams, why not six? Why not ten? Why not be a fan of every team, so that you can cheer for whoever wins? There's something about it that just reminds me of a millionaire who takes a crummy office job. He doesn't really have to work at it, because if he gets fired or gets bored, he's still got his millions of dollars.

3. God, I hate the Yankees. I really, really wish I wasn't so often put in the position of rooting for them. Thanks a LOT, Grady Little.