Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Loss Of Innocence

 In this age of advanced statistics, sabermetrics, and unprecedented coverage of the inner workings of an entire baseball organization-- combined with the unrelenting inertia of growing older and (theoretically) wiser-- I've found that for me personally, following a baseball team is much, much different than it used to be. It's just as intense, but a lot of the romance and misguided passion has been lost.  In its place is a whole lot more sensibility and pragmatism.

I didn't totally realize that it had happened to me, that I was one of "these" kind of fans now, until a few days ago, when I heard that Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara was one of the five nominees for the All-Star Game Final Vote, and my instant reaction was "Oh no, I hope he doesn't get many votes, he needs some rest right now." That's nowhere near how I ever would've thought about the Red Sox and the All-Star Game, at any other point in my life....

Age 5: All-Star game? So all the best players in the entire sport play together in one game? That seems fun! I hope Roger Clemens makes it. He's my favorite player, mostly because I have a weird obsession with the letter 'R', and my stuffed animal that I sleep with every night is Ricky the Raccoon, and my imaginary friend's name is Roger Sanchelly-- but that's besides the point.

There were two things in this picture that applied to this post that I wanted you to see:  this random yellow hat with just an 'R' on it, which was my most prized possession as a little kid, and Roger Sanchelly.  Then I realized that the 'R' doesn't show up because of the lighting....and I'm the only one who can see Roger.  So I went 0-2.

Age 10: So pumped for the All-Star Game this year! Three Red Sox players in the game, not bad! Last year, I bet my dad one week's allowance on the game, and he tried to teach me a lesson about gambling by actually taking my money when I lost, no matter how much I begged him to let me off the hook. YEAH, I BET THAT WORKS. LESSON LEARNED.  I'LL PROBABLY NEVER GAMBLE AGAIN.

Age 15: I can't believe Pedro didn't get the start for the All-Star Game, he's by far the best pitcher in the American League. I'm perfectly willing to argue that fact with you for the next 45 minutes, and if you still don't agree with me, then I'll just tell you that you don't know anything about sports and end the conversation by walking away from the table and heading back up to the a la carte line to get another couple of Nutty Bars. Hey, have you heard of Smash Mouth? They have a song called 'All-Star', it's pretty legit!

Age 20: No Red Sox starters this year? Not even Manny? That's pretty fucking typical...lemme guess, the Yankees had at least half the team, right? Whatever, we'll still have an All-Star Game party at Culligan either way. Also, I hope the Red Sox and Yankees play in the ALCS this year, and that it goes seven games. If it does, I think a great plan for Game 7 will be to drink a case of beer during the game, then when the Red Sox lose to the Yankees on an extra-innings walk-off, I can go on a drunken destructive rampage and legitimately scare some of my friends. Yeah, that'll be sweet.

Age 25: So we can just text this phone number and submit our vote for one of the nominees, and the winner makes the All-Star Game? Damn, I love technology. Now we can get Okajima in the game like he deserves! He should've made it anyway. Fucking Yankees, bunch of goddamn assholes.

Age 30: Guys, we can't vote for Koji to make the All-Star team. Seriously, his velocity is down lately since he's been so over-worked, and now his peripheral statistics are starting to suffer. Have you seen how his WHIP is starting to tail off in June? And how about his BABIP? It's through the roof! With Hanrahan and Miller out for the year, Morales on the DL, and Bailey and Tazawa struggling, I'd rather Koji get a few days off than pitch in the All-Star Game. Maybe we need to make a move at the trading deadline. We're gonna have to leave prospects like Brentz and Almanzar unprotected for the Rule 5 draft in November anyway, why not ship a couple of them now for some bullpen help? And did you listen to Smash Mouth yet? They're still pretty sweet.