Baseball and I have had a complicated relationship these past few years. At first it was the Mariners — I was so fed up with the franchise and its stupid decisions that I decided to stop investing financial and emotional resources in them. The former was easy; the latter wasn’t. I tried to quit them cold turkey and start watching other teams, but there was no passion. I didn’t need to see the games, didn’t need to be involved in its rhythms and patterns — didn’t even really pay attention to the playoffs and certainly didn’t care about the World Series, except inasmuch as I wanted the Yankees (and, more recently, the Red Sox) to lose.
It’s sometimes said that one can be a baseball fan, in the sense that one is a fan of baseball, but I’m starting to think that you need to have a single team to root for — something that anchors you within the context of the sport. You might know how to appreciate a good ball game, and even enjoy watching teams you have no vested interest in for the sake of watching the game (minor league ball is a lot like this for me), but the joy isn’t there if it’s not a team you care about. Maybe other people are capable of caring like that. Probably other people are capable. I’m not. Without the Mariners in my daily life, I came unmoored from baseball: vaguely aware of what was going on, and what had happened over the past week or so, but not engaged and involved in it. I stopped reading Baseball Prospectus, stopped reading the box scores, stopped reading game summaries. If only because the commentary is so thoroughly excellent I still paid attention to USS Mariner and Dave Cameron; the Mariner-specific stuff served only to enrage me further and remind me of why I wasn’t investing any energy in caring.
Don’t play, can’t lose. Don’t care, can’t get hurt.