Let me explain – say an announcer offers some “insightful” analysis by saying, “This team is losing this game, because their hearts just aren’t in it during this fourth quarter.” Some would-be pundit will repeat this the next day at the water cooler as if he had thought it up himself, and as if the statement said something meaningful about what transpired. Other people may question the validity of the analysis, or even the nature of the analysis. Does a quarterback lose a game because “his heart’s not in it” or because he threw into double coverage on third and long? Sure, one can raise the point that perhaps he threw into double coverage because “his heart wasn’t in it”, but that’s psychological guesswork, and is ultimately impossible to know. It’s a shortcut for thinking and it makes the person saying it seem omniscient. Teams win or lose games due to tactical successes or mistakes, and these are the worthwhile things to talk about, not foolish attempts to intuit the players’ psyches. People who want to talk about what they think the player’s feelings are, they’re usually parroting journalists who have spent too much time in the locker room interviewing players. Those members of the 4th estate are going for a nice sound byte rather than comprehensive tactical analysis, because that’s what’s easy for the players to talk about, and let’s face it, that’s what a majority of the population wants to hear. These are the sort who, say, would like to evaluate the degree of success of the War in Iraq by talking to the soldiers and finding out how they feel about it, rather than factoring in the more complex facets of what creates the situation.
Stats like “Pittsburg is 11-0” on Monday night are meaningless. There’s nothing inherent about Monday night that makes Pittsburg better than they would otherwise be; it’s just a coincidence that Pittsburgh has been the better team 11 times. It’s not too surprising that one of the best teams in the NFL has beaten 11 other teams of inferior quality. Hell, there are 28 teams in the NFL, and so by definition, one of the best teams is going to be better than 75% of the teams in the league. That the game is on a National stage might have an impact in the minds of the players and you might get that immeasurable extra effort, but games are not won and lost by that. They are won by reading the defense correctly on O, and getting to the quarterback on D, and various other tactical reasons, in addition to pure athleticism. I mean, let’s face it: T-Mac will dunk on Sean Bradley any time he feels like it, and all Sean can hope to do is either foul or stay out of the way.
I guess what I’m saying I like about sports is that it shows someone’s true colors because it shows how they think, and what aspects they choose to think about. Do they trust the so-called experts, or do they aspire to be an expert by doing the research and coming to their own conclusions? Do they want to talk about psychology or strategy or some combination of the two, or would they rather talk about the uniforms, and the statements that players have given to the press? Does the player’s play define the player or is that defined by the player’s iconography, (which is often as defined as an actor’s.)?
But my point to all this was the recent acquisition of the New York Mets, one Carlos Delgado. The article on him by the USA Today attempted one of those unwise puns that the New York Post makes as its bread and butter: “Delgado vows to be stand-up guy for Mets”. Why is this significant? Since 2003, Delgado (then a player for the Toronto Blue Jays) has repeatedly refused to stand up for the empty action that is the playing of “God Bless America” during the 7th inning, which is offensive to the sensibilities on so many levels. I mean, I can understand (if not agree with, and I sure as hell don’t stand or take off my hat) the “Star Spangled Banner”, but fuckin “God Bless America”? There’s so much to dislike: the inclusion of a Judeo-Christian God into a secular arena, the mindless patriotic sentiment that inspires people to put on uniforms and kill people that look differently, the goddamned fruited plains and purple mountains majesty (I ain’t ever seen no purple mountain that ain’t been a painting) and most of all the replacement of a very drunk rendition of “take me out to the ballgame”.
In the North Side of Chicago, we haven’t forgotten what baseball is all about; we drink and sing (well, I drink, but they sing for me) but in New York and idiotic points elsewhere, they still insist on this outrage. Carlos used to be a good guy. He’s from Puerto Rico, and refused to stand during this sonic outrage, in protest both of the war in Iraq and U.S. military use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to test weapons. Well integrity took a shot in the ass. Delgado, as part of his new contract with the Mets, said that he will stand for every rendition of “God Bless America” and that he doesn’t want to “put himself above the team”. Here’s some news for you Carlos: demanding to be moved up in the batting order or offending your teammates by playing your stereo too loudly, THAT IS putting yourself above the team. Refusing to stand by your integrity for the sake of a paycheck, well that’s just prostitution.
In other news, Nomar Garciaparra was denied arbitration, effectively ending his tenure as a Chicago Cub today. I feel sick, hurt and betrayed. This is ten times worse than when Bobby Jackson was traded from the Kings. One of the happiest days of my sporting life was when my favorite active player was traded to my favorite team. Now Jim Hendry has gone and fucked up everything, the same way that the festering shitblister that is Dave Wannstedt chased my hero Tom Waddle away from the Bears. I feel as bad as my father the day that Ron Artest got traded. He wouldn’t leave his room or talk to anyone for two days, except to cuss the Bulls, and say, “I’m done with them. Fuck them. They’ve made their bed. The deserve everything bad that happens to them for doing this. Fuck them.” Of course it wore off, but I still don’t think he’s the same from it and I don’t think I’ll be. Damn Jim Hendry straight to hell. Ima go drink. Fuck everyone and everything.