Don’t Hate The Player, and Don’t Hate The Game Either

by on January 25, 2012 · 0 comments

Game 6: Ray Knight (not pictured) scores the w...

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“Hate” is an extreme or intense dislike for something or someone.  I find it difficult to imagine that a rational person can truly feel hate or hatred for someone they do not personally know who hasn’t directly or indirectly wronged them in such a way as to cause loss of limb or life.  It takes a truly powerful event to evoke real hate.  Or does it?

After the NFL games on Sunday, I did a little trolling on Twitter to see what people were tweeting about Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff that night.  For those of you who don’t follow the American sport of football, they were supposedly two of the most hated men on the planet.  Cundiff missed a field goal attempt that would have tied the score between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots.  As if to somehow go one-up on the “arbitrarily evil professional athlete scale”, Kyle Williams then followed Cundiff’s performance by muffing a punt and giving away a critical turnover at the end of the Niners vs Giants game.  Draw and quarter these men!!!  To the gallows!  Off with their heads!!

At the very least, a fair-sized portion of the Twitter world seemed to be full of similarly medieval responses.  This wasn’t pure “snark” of the wannabe 140-character Twitter comedian, and it wasn’t anything normally heard on an elementary school playground.  No, this was far more inelegant and not worth repeating here.  If you are that interested, a great deal of the invective is still available to the Twitter search algorithm.  Have a go.

Maybe it’s simply the natural mellowing that often comes with age and experience, but I found myself feeling badly for both Cundiff and Williams.  After watching them both fail at their chosen profession in front of millions, I struggled for some parallel that would somehow allow me to empathize with both men.  Instead, I found myself reaching back a little into my selectively voluminous baseball memory.

If social media had been available to me when Gibson hit the 3-run shot off of Eck, I would have shut down a site with pure nonsense spewing forth from my keyboard.  I could have possibly created the very first baseball-related denial of service attack ever directed at a single player.  I was angry beyond comforting.  I was ranting to end all rants.  I hated Eckersley and Gibson and everything related to either player.  I was in short….an idiot.

Only those who have reached the pinnacle of what they do can be entrusted with the greatest responsibilities that their respective companies have to entrust.  How many of us are so fortunate and as accomplished as Eck, Buckner, or Kyle Williams or Billy Cundiff?  Let he or she cast that first stone.  If you have never been there, then you may struggle to even imagine the personal emotions that each has had to deal with since erring on the side of losing.

As for Bartman, his own personal living hell was created by a singular moment, created from that desire that nearly every baseball fan has practically since birth….to catch a baseball at a game.  Just one moment of self-absorbed action has vilified a man for doing the exact same thing that many of us have done so many times.  He just reached out to grab a baseball.  It’s not like he fell asleep while driving and put his SUV into a bus of nuns.  It’s not like he ruled a country and set about the destruction of millions or billions of lives.  Nope.

Imagine what your Facebook timeline would have looked like back in 2003 when all 27 of your friends went nuts over Bartman and his headphones.  Probably at least 2 incidents of “Eat it, Bartman!”, maybe a whisper of a “Bartman sucks!” chant, and at least a couple “Fartman” references.  Classy.

Does any of this change what has happened?  Do you truly feel better for insulting someone you don’t even likely know from the comfort of your couch?  Feel all big and bad hiding behind your laptop or smartphone, while you make wisecracks questioning some irregularities in Cundiff’s ancestry.

Congratulations.

You have now reached the “Top 10″ for bestselling items at the world’s jerk store.  If you stop berating the ref at your kid’s soccer game for 2 seconds, you may come collect your trophy which is being proudly presented by the “Moises Alou Totally Had That Ball” fan club.  This whole “life” thing?  You are doing it wrong.  Trust me, I know.  Where do you think the “Fartman” reference originated?

I was doing “it” wrong, and by “it” I mean sports in general.  Win or lose, it’s about entertainment and entertainers.  It’s not about anything else, and it really isn’t a macrocosm about anything except our collective desire to watch people run back and forth on a field while chasing an oblong, round, or dimpled ball.  Face it, folks.  We are easily amused in our spare time, and our passion for our chose amusements sometimes runs way long of what it should.

So, if you happen to be on Twitter, go ahead and give @kyle_williams10 a virtual “you’ll keep your chin up”.  If you happen to see Cundiff, remind him that at least he isn’t Steve Norwood (or maybe try something a bit better).  As for Eck and Buckner, just tell them for me that I wish to congratulate them for their illustrious careers in a game I only wish I could have played at their level.  As for Bartman, tell him I want an interview.  I promise to be kind.

-Jeffrey Maier

Just kidding.  This whole thing was authored by @gr33nazn, and you may yelp at me on Twitter!

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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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