As a baseball fan (originally from the term fanatic) I watch my favorite team enthusiastically with high hopes going into every season. Every year (even for Cubs fans) starts with hope that this year is going to be the year. This is going to be the year that things go our way, they won’t get bitten by the injury bug like in times past, they’ll get the breaks that have eluded them in prior years, they won’t miss the playoffs this time around… I get that, I understand that and yes I do that as well.
I watch games and when a guy gets fooled on a low and outside pitch and strikes out with the tying run in scoring position to end the inning (when the leadoff hitter led off with a double) I yell at the TV just like everyone else does. Even if a player is hitting in the .280’s, when he hits into a double play to end the inning I am going to gripe about said player but when he hits a homerun the double play or the strikeout is a distant memory.
One big thing that has largely changed all of this complaining is (In my opinion) Twitter. For a player to have made it to the big leagues, regardless of how much talent they’ve got, they have put in lots of hard work, practice and more practice. For each guy on the 26 man roster there are thousands of guys out there wishing that they had the chance to be sitting on the bench in that dugout getting ready for their turn at bat. I’ve watched baseball and imagined it as a fantasy, playing a kids game for a living and travelling from city to city playing baseball, I mean what could be better?! Playing the game you love and getting paid between six and nine figures to do so?!
While some think that it would be grand and fun and a 24 hour joy to do so (in my dreams it is) there are also other things that come along with this. Have you ever been to a game early? Like when the guys are taking batting practice and there’s that one guy standing right behind the dugout with a thick binder of baseball cards and for every guy that walks out, whether it’s the star or the backup utility infielder, he’s yelling at them to sign one of the thousand cards he’s got in there? The problem isn’t that one guy, it’s the twenty (very low figure) of them at every game trying to get some ink on those cards. When you are a ballplayer you might live the high life but you are also a celebrity and are going to be bothered when you go places. You have lost a big portion of your privacy, the part where you just run to the store and pick up something turns into going out for milk and getting recognized by one guy which turns into you being recognized by ten people and while on the surface seems cool is also taking that one valuable thing that you can never get back… Time.
And then you’ve got Twitter… Let’s say you strike out with the bases loaded and the team down by one or you misplay a ball in the outfield or you get in a hitting slump, it happens to the best of them… Now you’ve got a situation where you’re just trying to put yourself out there for people to give them a better chance to relate and have fun with someone who otherwise they’d more than likely not get the chance to interact with and at the same time someone who they’ll be excited to say that they got to interact with as well. Now you’ve got the guys who are mad because you struck out, popped out, grounded out, got in a slump or whatever… Now you’ve got the people who’d never say something to your face but they are going to let you have it because you let them down. Yeah, the fat guy on the couch, the guy who was a good ballplayer in high school, the little league coach, the guy who loves to watch but has never played, the guy that played in the minors, every guy out there that wishes to God that he were in your shoes and is jealous of the fact that he isn’t, yeah, that guy… That guy (whichever one he is) is going to tell you what a piece of crap you are because of your mistake, he’s going to tell you why you don’t belong in the game and say things to you via Twitter that never in their life they’d say to your face and for what?! Because they are frustrated? Yeah, that’s why…
And the thing is, it’s okay to be frustrated with a player when you’re watching the game and it’s okay to talk about it and gripe about it because as frustrated as you are, that guy on the field that just gave up the homerun in relief that cost the team the lead or the pitcher that gave up the five runs in one inning and the team never recovered, he is a lot more frustrated but the difference is that he realizes that when it all comes down to it, he is playing a kids game and getting paid well to do it and he’ll get another chance to do it again except with better results.
Of course this doesn’t touch every scenario but you catch the drift… Baseball players (or players from any other sport for that matter) busted their butts to get to the big show and they are not going out there and trying to fail. They are going for success every time they go out there and when they mess up they know it. They don’t need Joe Couchpotato blasting them directly on Twitter to know that. If you’re going to blow off steam about a frustration you have with a particular player, yell at him on the TV, save your dignity and show some respect for the boys on the field.