Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To Gloat, or Not to Gloat

As a Yankee fan it doesn't get better than it is today.
Current champions + most historical championships = the perfect storm of fandom.
Fans of other teams may try to minimize the accomplishment of our favorite team. They'll point to the payroll, ex (or not) PED users, and/or paid off umpires. But now, and as long as they keep the record books, a list of World Series Champions will include 2009 - New York Yankees.

Should you be happy? Yes.
Should you be proud to be a Yankee fan? Yes.
Should you defend the players and organization against the accusations outlined above? Yes.
Should you gloat? I say no.

The definition of "gloat": To express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction.

I guess I'm against gloating in general. Even when it comes to victories that I actually have something to do with, be it slow-pitch softball, ping-pong, or cribbage, I feel winning in and of itself should be enough to give you a sense of contentment in a job well done.

But when you're a fan of a sports team, you're really just lucky you picked the right team to root for. You have nothing to do with your team's success or failure. I'm no psychologist, I haven't played one on TV, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but to gloat unprovoked about your team winning seems to me to be a defense mechanism to hide your own deficiencies.

Let me qualify this a little. I am using the literal definition above which includes the word "malicious." If you have friends that you can play a little give and take with while being jovial about it, this I understand. I also don't include trash talk in general, say, in a pick-up basketball game or fantasy football league as gloating.

What I'm against is walking up to a stranger with a Red Sox hat on and saying some form of "Ha Ha my team is better than yours." And doing it anonymously on the Internet is even worse due to the cowardliness of the act.

The majority of Yankee fans are good fans, but there is a subset of fans that have created a general "Yankees' fans are jerks" sentiment amongst the masses. Whether or not there's a chance to change this perception at all is a question I can't answer, but I think it doesn't hurt to try.

So, I say, put your Yankees championship jerseys and even your Yankee hats away for a couple more weeks. Your friends know you're a Yankees fan, and strangers really don't need to have the fact that the Yankees are the greatest team of all time shoved in their face. The truth is, they already, grudingly, know it.

Game Six, Final Thoughts

Some people, ok many people, these days say baseball is boring. The problem is that it takes a long time and a lot of patience to learn the game. The payoff for that time and patience, however, is the ability to enjoy the game at it's fullest. If you've played the game, you have a leg up. And, of course, a rooting interest also pushes the level of excitement up a few notches. Throw in a potential clinching World Series game, a potential clinching at bat, a potential clinching pitch and for my money you are witness to the apex of viewing excitement.

What's going on inside your head when you're watching exciting baseball? One could say that thinking is a way for your mind to banter with itself. During exciting baseball moments, the banter becomes more frantic. Everything you know about baseball: games you've watched, games you've played, things you've read, mountains of statistics that have taken residence in your brain, it all plays into your constant inner dialogue. Using that historical base of facts and figures, your thoughts turn into a constant stream of observances, predictions, and desires. Depending on your state of mind, your optimism, pessimism, or realism you continually try to anticipate the ensuing events. In the heat of the moment, what comes through? Do you lean on your optimistic desires? your realistic observations, your pessimistic predictions? or as is probably the case for most, a mixture of everything?

I decided to take a look back on the last pitch of the year. Live, I watched from my couch, alone with my thoughts (kids in bed, wife doesn't care). The following is a re-creation of my thoughts during maybe 10 seconds of the live broadcast. Obviously, I couldn't remember everything that went through my mind, but I was surprised that many of the same thoughts I had the first time came back on revisiting the video (I still have the game on my DVR).

We join my brain in progress just after Mariano Rivera has thrown ball 3 to Shane Victorino, running the count full.

-damn, victorino is giving him a tough at bat-
Buck "Good at bat by Victorino"
-that's my thought-
-what was that study i saw on guys that foul off a lot of pitches in an at bat? i think it was inconclusive-
-if victorino gets on, back to back homers from utley and howard and it's still tied-
-just get him here and finish it-
-he keeps going inside, try the outside? but he's been missing outside-
-get him here, don't walk him-

Shot of Ruiz on second
-don't care about the guy on second-
-no more fouls, i can't take the pressure-
-man, is mo really as calm as he looks?-
Mo Comes set
-posada set up outside, don't get too much of the plate-
-looks like a strike-
-he's swinging-
-crap, he hit it-
View of grounder skipping across the infield.
-don't find the hole-
Buck "To the second baseman, Cano...."
-yes, don't boot it please-
Cano picks it up.
-yes, good throw please-
Cano throws
-yes, catch it please-
Teix catches it
Buck ".. The Yankees are back on top."

Teix streaking across the diamond.
-time for the pileup-
-who's in there?-
-damon trying to jump in-
-posada on the outside looking in, ha, doesn't want to get hurt-
-here comes melky-
-cool, they did it-
-where's joe-
-how long until pitchers and catchers?-

Yes, as exciting as it gets, once it sinks in that it's over, I realize I am merely a viewer. I was a lucky bystander, but a bystander nevertheless. The excitement is gone. The long and un-exciting off season is upon us.