Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tinker Bell Is Dead

At the heart of all professional sports is a willful delusion.  There has to be.  It's the only thing that keeps it going.

The athletes we root for don't play for dear old State.  They don't hail from our hometown, they aren't people we grew up knowing.  The stadiums where they play aren't even the ones we went to as kids.  As Jerry Seinfeld likes to say, we're really rooting for the laundry.

And more and more, the guys who wear the right laundry make more money in a year than most of us will in a lifetime.  Increasingly, even getting to the game once a season is a nearly intolerable expense, especially for a family.

But that doesn't matter.  Because the players buy into the delusion, too, most of them.  Most of the time.  They push their bodies to the limit.  Run into walls, concuss themselves, tear up their hamstrings.

Some of them go even further, and enhance their performance with substances that can cause untold damage, now or down the road.  We don't ask them to do that—but we don't really complain, either, as long as they produce.

The one thing we can't abide?  When they won't abide by the delusion.

Oh, sure, nobody gives their very top game over the whole of the long season.  It's not possible.  Even the most committed to the game, the greatest gamers and hustlers, get too dinged up or exhausted, or occasionally hung over or just mentally tired to ever quite give their all, everyday, every play.

And yet.  And yet.  To openly throw away the delusion, as Gary Sanchez did last night,  ruins everything.

I can't say what's going on with him.  Not fully healed from the injuries that have plagued him this year?  Upset over some perfectly understandable personal problem?  Withdrawing, maybe, from whatever PEDs fueled his "stardom" in the first place?  A "bad attitude"—way too often the default problem attributed to players of color?

Just a searing lack of confidence that has turned into a runaway neurosis?  That's been known to happen, too, in our game.

But whatever the reason, if he's not going to try, this is not going to work.

ALL-CAPS mentioned the glory days of Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Billy Martin, and George Steinbrenner.  None of the four would exactly be considered a model of emotional health.

Mostly, I suppose, they were pouring into the game what they lacked in other parts of their lives, thanks to one thing or another, probably having to do with monstrous and unappeasable fathers.  But whatever the reason, they devoted themselves to winning.  Sometimes stupidly and counter-productively, to be sure.  But they never lacked that passion for the game that makes the delusion possible.

It's silly, really.  Running around the country, dressed in these outfits, playing a boy's game.  But that's the contract:  upholding the delusion.

It's like that part in Peter Pan, where everyone has to clap their hands to bring Tinker Bell back to life.  Is it stupid and childish?  Hell, yeah.

But that's why we're all here.







9 comments:

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Like someone wrote last night, bat him eight (bat the pitcher seventh in NL parks).

Give him a uniform number like 0 or 91. Tell him 24 is retired in honor of another player who never hustled.

Pinch hit Walker for him. Repeatedly.

Have Howie Spira get pictures with Hugh Grant's hooker. Then give them to the Post.

Embarrass him in every way until he wakes up and hustles -- on every play.

KD said...

The Fat Lazy One must pay a high price for messing with our beloved illusion.

The price must be paid soon. Very soon..

Publius said...

Rufus is unfair to Rickey Henderson. Rickey hustled when he was on there. His hamstrings were just really, really tight during the mid 80s. Kept him off the field a lot. Maybe it was east coast air. Hammies loosened right up when Rickey went back to Oakland.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Publius,

I was referring to a certain player currently on suspension for doping, on that team north of Oakland.

I was never a big Rickey fan (impossible contrived crouch strike zone, dangerous to be between a camera and him, etc.), but never thought he was lazy.

Sanchez combines the worst aspects of Cano and Montero.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yes, Rickey could be very strange, but he was a sort of force of nature, somebody so high above the rest of the game that you indulged him in certain things, like a deranged genius composer—maybe the Mozart of baseball.

Sanchez, in his second full year of play, does not approach that level.

Publius said...

Ah, now I see Rufus. You meant Tino Martinez. Horace...damn straight. Rickey Henderson is the starting left fielder and lead off man on baseball's all-time team.

13bit said...

"the worst aspects of Cano and Montero" - dead-on, Rufus, dead-on.

Everybody can see it. Drop him now. The longer we wait, the hard it becomes. Get a Single A pitching prospect.

Anonymous said...

METS NEED A CATCHER!

THROW HIM INTO THE DEAL TO GET DEGROM.

HoraceClarke66 said...

ALL-CAPS, I like the way you're thinking. And much as it pains me to say it, I kind of agree with that Times guy.

Judge and Sanchez, straight up, for deGrom and Ol' Yeller. Okay, we'll throw in Sonny Gray. Even if they don't agree. We'll just force him out of the car, somewhere along the Grand Central Parkway.