I have the weirdest dreams sometimes. This morning, I had one in which I heard a rumor that Royals pitcher Gil Meche was developing a heroin problem. I decided that I was the person who had to deal with this alleged problem, only I didn’t know how to get ahold of Meche to confront him about his drug use. I feverishly hunted for a phone number, an address, anything, but all I could find was more online gossip about him.
Yeah, he’s not a heroin addict. What the heck, subconscious?
Anyway, back in real life, the Royals have fallen back into last in the AL Central after a loss against Tampa Bay last night. Last night was a night of a lot of movement for the East, as Joba Chamberlain pitched a heck of a game against the Red Sox to give New York their 7th straight win, and help knock Boston out of the tie for first (with Tampa Bay). And now New York is only 3 games out of first place.
I was really hoping the Royals would make a good showing against the Rays to help Boston stay on top of the East, because I kind of like the Red Sox. They’d be my “other team” if I was able to really love more than one team in the league.
That said, I really like what the Rays have been doing this year. I’m not surprised at how many games they’ve won (they’re 60-42), because it’s always easy to see that they draft well. I’ve argued about this with one of my brothers – he has no admiration for the Rays’ turnaround because – and I’m paraphrasing here – any team could turn around in a hurry if they had the top draft choice every year. My problem with that is that the Royals have been similarly sucky all these years, so they’ve also had the first or second pick of the draft every year. And they certainly aren’t turning around in any kind of hurry.
I’m far from losing patience or giving up on my team. I understand that the previous front office regime did a TON of damage to the minor league system, and that takes a long time to fix, and a lot more pieces are in place for an improved team than there were last year or the year before. I’m just frustrated that we haven’t been able to do in the draft what Tampa Bay has done, because we’ve focused too much on whether we’d be able to sign our draft picks, not whether they were the best guys for our team. That kind of attitude puts the organization on track for a “one step forward, two steps back” phase, but we’re finally climbing out of it. It’s just too bad the Rays climbed faster.
So my sportswriting hero, Joe Posnanski, wrote a post about autographs and Willie Mays. I think about autographs a lot; I guess that comes with the territory of seeing ballplayers sign for all kinds of people, day after day.
Sure, I have a few signed objects – a couple of tickets stubs and hats, and a few really off-the-wall objects including a souvenir popcorn bucket and tiny personal fan. And then there’s a bat that Mike Sweeney used to use, which he signed and gave to me one day last summer. That bat is probably one of the Top 5 things I would save in the event of a house fire. I like those items, and I like remembering the rush of getting to talk to some of my favorite ballplayers, then excitedly telling my parents about every word that was said. (“I told him, ‘good game,’ and he was like, ‘thanks!’ It was SO COOL!”) I love watching the next night’s game and thinking, “I met that guy!” whenever someone whose autograph I had just gotten came up to bat.
You don’t get any of that if you pay for a signed card or picture on eBay, so what’s the point? I’m not judging; but like Joe and several of his commenters, I’ve just always tried but failed to see the appeal.
Anyway, none of that is really my point anyway. My point was that I wanted to pass along a story that Paul White told in the comment section of the Posnanski post…my mom e-mailed me and described this comment as “must-read.” I agree, so here it is:
I hope you haven’t put away your dancing shoes, because the media and the Packers and Brett Favre’s phone are still doing the annual “Favre: Staying or Going?” Tango, but this year has an (alleged) twist: Favre has asked Green Bay for his release from the team, freeing him to play somewhere else if he un-retires and if any team is interested.
Ugh. Seriously? What is it about these guys and comebacks? Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice were two of my childhood favorites whose comebacks particularly upset me, and I don’t want to see Favre take the same route. Sure, there’s the chance that he’d have another 2007, but there’s also a huge chance he’d play like a shell of that Favre, and would be a disgrace to himself. I pretty much eulogized him when he announced his retirement in March. I figured, foolishly, that this end really was the end. In that post, I yearned for “one last Last Season,” but now that that is a possibility, it’s kind of sad.
If this story is even true – which it might not be; I suspect it could be a “heard it from a guy who heard it from a guy who heard it from Brett’s trainer’s next-door neighbor” kind of story – I think the Packers absolutely should grant Favre his release, for their own sake. Aaron Rodgers has been squashed for enough games by Favre’s trademark inability to quit, and for Green Bay to take Favre back would be a slap in the face that would send Rodgers walking at his first opportunity (which is next season). If the Packers are to build for future success, they have to be willing to do it without #4, because to regain Favre would essentially be to lose Rodgers, and they have no one else groomed to step in at QB.
And all that doesn’t even begin to touch how weird it would be to see ole’ Brett in anything but GB green and gold. To me, Favre and Green Bay are inextricably linked, but now the two might be separated, and I don’t know that I’d be able to stand it. Stand by for updates, I suppose. This dance could drag on forever. Again.
I could never deny that I love sports a little too much. I’m aware that the amount of time I spend on baseball every day might even be unhealthy. My moods rise and fall with the performance of my Royals, and if an important sporting event is on TV I am likely to arrange my social schedule around it. So yeah, I let sports take up a huge portion of my life, and I take responsibility for that. Really.
How disgusting! I love a good rivalry as much as anyone. Sox/Yankees. Nebraska/Oklahoma (there’s my Husker bias!), Cubs/Cardinals, whatever. The visceral pretend-hate we get to have for fans of our rivals makes for a lot of conversational fodder, trash-talking, and some of the most hilarious bets among sports fans. It’s supposed to be fun, isn’t it? What has to happen in the mind of a fan to turn a sports rivalry into real-life hatred? Have we gone too far with sporting culture?
And I don’t understand the timing of this attack at all. The Red Sox are four games ahead of the Yanks in the standings, and neither is in first (the DEVIL Rays are). It’s not a heated, blow-for-blow battle for AL East supremacy. It’s more of a girly ticklefight for second place at this point, so I don’t understand why those Sox fans are so hateful at this moment. Yeah, the Yanks won the last two games over Boston, but Boston won the two before that. Boston fans should have bigger things to worry about, like getting the team back on track overall, because the Boston/New York rivalry isn’t as culturally significant as Dan Shaughnessy has always wanted us to believe.
And all that is also besides the point. The larger point should be that no rivalry, no matter how heated, should ever result in violence against a human being. (Yes, I’m saying Yankees fans are human beings. Go me!) No frenzied fan should ever be in such a frenzy that bashing someone’s body and car with a baseball bat seems reasonable. Baseball is important; just today, we are treated to a great sportswriter’s account of how baseball can soothe a wounded city with one game. But for pity’s sake, let’s not get carried away!