Following a professional sports team is irrational.
The entire process in itself is one that lives between the borders of irrationality. Professional athletes do not care about the casual fan in the same way that we care for them. We are outsiders looking in. We place great emphasis on who we are by who we root for. One of my sociology professors in college was a huge Redskins fan, for better or worse (often worse) and he would always quip that “No Redskins ever came to my house to help me fix the hole I punched in the wall after the team blew a close game”.
The connection between fans and the team they root for is a very odd one. We identify ourselves by our team colors. Seeing a stranger walking up the street wearing Dodger-blue generates a very specific feeling inside of me. “Oh, crap! Wheres my wallet?” After all, Dodger fans are thieving jerks who oppose all that is holy and good. The feeling created by sports is a undeniable one.
As fans, we gladly, sometimes obsessively pour over stats, collect memorabilia, and invest way too much of ourselves into the sport of our choosing. We follow a group of grown men playing a child’s game. Cheering for their victories as “we’ve done it!” and licking our wounds over tough loses.
The Giants team this year is practically an exercise in torture. The sport of baseball in itself is a social product, one that our society has created for a variety of reasons. Even though I know that in the big picture baseball is essentially small potatoes, I still find that I’ve invested part of myself into the game.
Watching Armando Benitez blow a hard fought game was difficult to watch. After the two balks and the walk-off home run from Delgado, me and my father sat in silence for a few minutes. Gazing into the television like zombies as Benitez and the rest of the team sulked off the field. We felt the loss too, maybe not as much as Benitez did, or anyone else on the team but it was a tough defeat.
And thats where the irrational nature of the sport rears its head. Why should we really care if a team of millionaires performs or doesn’t perform? Brian Sabean has got to be having some sleepless nights right now. The Giants have been spinning their wheels since the beginning of the season. Countering winning streaks with equally as bad losing streaks (we’re currently on a 4 game losing streak after the meltdown in Flushing).
The rotation has been very strong but 3 other NL West teams rank ahead of us in team ERA. The bullpen has moments of looking like an actual bullpen that can be trusted with a lead but most of the time it’s been a exercise in frustration. The lineup is largely old and punch-less, with more black holes than the Milky Way. With the loss against the Mets, the Giants sink to the bottom of the NL West on the basis of winning percentages.
The idea that I fear the most is that Sabean is going to panic and send away youth for something like Melvin Mora, a old player with declining skills and little upside. Repeating the same mistakes of past instead of looking towards the future. The Giants are at a impasse and their needed approaching decisions will be crucial to the future of the team. Package away prospects once again for a run in the NL West? Or stand pat and let things shake out the way they will.
I’ll never stop liking the Giants but they sure do test my patience sometimes.
Comment Starter: Do you think the Giants have a legitimate shot at winning the West?