I think spring training is a fantastic time of year: it’s a season of hope, pre-defeated teams, and lots and lots pictures from Florida – which are very refreshing in the gray, chilly mornings of northern New England. So the other day I shared a picture of the Pirates line-up card on Facebook. It was AJ Burnett’s first start and the line-up looked pretty darn close to an opening day card for the Pirates. Naturally, some comments were posted in a state defined by 67% Red Sox fans and 33% Yankees fans. A Yankees fan cursed the 2012 success of AJ with a guaranteed 2013 break-down. A Red Sox fan admired the clean penmanship on the card. And then another Red Sox fan spoke the words of a blind, helpless pawn buried beneath the imperial regime called Red Sox Nation ™. He said:
That must be exciting news for that market. Burnett is not at all a contender throwaway. In other news of similar pertinence, there’s talk that Def Leppard may play the Idaho State Fair.
Naturally, I didn’t respond. There’s really nothing to say to that kind of trash. Leaving those words open at the end of the comment stream allows that sick, soulless little child to allow his eyes to linger on his ugly, beaten face in the mirror.
But before I take another 500 words to rip my friend a new one, I’m going to pause and consider the machine that scarred this once promising scientist turned lawyer into the hideous beast uttering the words above. <Pause…>
OK. So imagine this guy’s life. He shuffles about from office to office all day, maybe catching a glimpse of a courtroom from time to time, logging hours and profiting off of our hyper-legalistic, me-first-I’ve-been-wronged culture. Sad, really. Someone somewhere convinced him that he could better humanity through the law – or at least help enough people/entities battle for their own righteousness to put a moral frame around his money-grabbing. (I apologize to any lawyers reading this. I’m sure you’re all very nice people. But I’m trying to paint a picture here…) Growing up in New England, naturally he’s a Red Sox fan. Not knowing any better, he’s somehow bought their branding campaign and feels the pull of the implied indentured obligations that come with wearing the colors (that he bought retail, but 10% off, at a Bob’s store). He feels the pull because that’s part of their schtick. By co-opting decades of near-misses and late-inning collapses, John Henry and his Band of Sexy Men have turned misery and vicarious failure into pride. What?! Yup – the Yawkey Way spin cycle has captured my friend’s mind (and wallet) by burning the scarlet L (for Loser) on his chest.
Now how can that be, you might ask. How can a team using losing as a brand for a team that has won 2 championships in the last decade? That’s the beauty. They grab you on both ends – by the short and the long hairs. And in that impossible you-can’t-beat-me-cause-I-already-lost and you-all-suck-kiss-my-ring dialectic, my friend attacks the small market Pirates with the words of a prideful Lord and the tone of an embittered peon. He jabs at the Pirates for their small market payroll! Ha! Read: I’M RICHER THAN YOU! Then he calls the opening day starter washed up. Read: I FEAR THAT I’M A LOSER BUT YOUR PITCHER IS OLD! Are you gettin’ it? Yeah, Armageddon It.
An interesting twist is that he subtly sides with the Yankees on this one. A ‘contender throwaway’ – he’s calling the Yankees a contender. Quite clearly, he is grouping his Red Sox with the hated Yankees as contenders. But the Pirates, in ‘that market’, are not. And here, my friends, this slick Texas lawyer displays that he is a completely brainwashed baseball zombie. This Red Sox pwnership (sic) has tried to make themselves into the Yankees since day 1. Despite their desperate anti-NY PR tactics (Evil Empire, etc.) they only want to be the biggest of markets – the meanest of of the mean AL East bullies – while at the same time staying about $20M behind in payroll to claim underdog status. That split personality, that disingenuous two-faced power play, that utter disrespect for a town, a region, and our National Pastime breeds bonehead baseball fans like my friend.
Don’t be an idiot! Follow baseball, not baseball-shaped advertising! Go Bucs!
(Oh and those 15 walks were awful. Leave it to Boston to practice talking walks against minor league pitchers in a spring training game.)