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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tim Marchman: How to Enjoy Lousy Baseball

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There are five keys to getting the most from a bad team. For those who have never known one, or those who have forgotten, here they are.

...Hate the right players

Maybe a player doesn’t hustle; maybe he hustles ostentatiously. He might have a dumb habit, like bouncing curves in the dirt with runners on third, or reaching over across the plate and into the other batter’s box for sliders. Whatever it is, when your team is good, you can’t abandon yourself to your loathing, because you want him to do well.

When your team is bad, though, you have full license to hope he does poorly. Do David Robertson’s high socks drive you mad? Have you had to restrain yourself from rushing at Joba Chamberlain with a razor and shaving off his mustache? Openly pulling for them to blow the game could be satisfying.

Harbor secret fantasies

There’s nothing wrong with looking at the standings in the morning and quickly figuring how soon your team can reach its magic number when they’re 10 games up in the standings going into September. There’s even less wrong with doing math showing how they could win a division title when they’re down 20 in late May.

Similarly, calling into WFAN proposing a Travis Hafner plus minor prospects for Miguel Cabrera deal when your team is cruising to another playoff berth just feels crass. Doing the same when they’re on the verge of mathematical elimination—and touting figures that show the trade could, if everything works out just right, win them the second wild-card spot—is something different.

Repoz Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, red sox, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. 'Spos Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4394941)
...Joba Chamberlain ...mustache...


That is some disturbing ####.

Do NOT Google.
   2. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4394947)
Note to younger Yankee fans who might have only known the "good" side of the Boss:

This is the part where he would have traded CC Sabathia and the top three prospects for Mark Kotsay.
   3. steagles Posted: March 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4394948)
Similarly, calling into WFAN proposing a Travis Hafner plus minor prospects for Miguel Cabrera deal when your team is cruising to another playoff berth just feels crass. Doing the same when they’re on the verge of mathematical elimination—and touting figures that show the trade could, if everything works out just right, win them the second wild-card spot—is something different.
i can tell you from experience that this is much more fun to do when your team is winning 100 games as opposed to struggling to finish at .500.
   4. Dan Posted: March 23, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4394976)
That is some disturbing ####.

Do NOT Google.


Personally I'm in favor of anything that covers up as much of his face as possible. And on the Yankees, a mustache is as good as that gets, I suppose.
   5. morineko Posted: March 23, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4394989)
The horrible part about the Yankees being horrible is that the Twins are horrible at the exact same time so once both teams are back on track the Yankees will be right there to keep knocking the Twins out of the ALDS.
   6. Esoteric Posted: March 23, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4395005)
This is a really fun, really great article. I recommend it to Andy in particular!
   7. zonk Posted: March 23, 2013 at 04:01 PM (#4395014)
Good lord...

I'd almost forgotten that Yankeedom is more annoying when the Yankees aren't good than when they are...
   8. Walt Davis Posted: March 23, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4395025)
Hate the right players

No, no, no. This is a major flaw in many fans of a bad team. Bad team after bad team ends up blaming their best player by focusing on the 1-2 things they can't do.

Also if you're a fan of a bad team, the flaws are to be celebrated. If you can't enjoy Shawon Dunston sailing a throw into the third row potentially decapitating some drunk client of an ad agency sitting in the boxes for free then you are not a baseball fan.
   9. steagles Posted: March 23, 2013 at 04:47 PM (#4395028)
Also if you're a fan of a bad team, the flaws are to be celebrated. If you can't enjoy Shawon Dunston sailing a throw into the third row potentially decapitating some drunk client of an ad agency sitting in the boxes for free then you are not a baseball fan.
rule #3, if you're going to lose, it's best to lose spectacularly.
   10. zonk Posted: March 23, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4395031)
Also if you're a fan of a bad team, the flaws are to be celebrated. If you can't enjoy Shawon Dunston sailing a throw into the third row potentially decapitating some drunk client of an ad agency sitting in the boxes for free then you are not a baseball fan.


Spoken like a man that truly appreciates the shawon-o-meter!

   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 23, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4395061)
Bad team after bad team ends up blaming their best player by focusing on the 1-2 things they can't do.

Better to focus on the positive, like making the All-Star team or hitting a significant benchmark. I remember rooting for Roy White to hit .300 during the ill-fated CBS era.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 23, 2013 at 06:36 PM (#4395069)
Eh, there are too many other ways to enjoy baseball; watch other teams on MLB, ESPN, etc., my fantasy teams, my DMB sim teams, etc.

If they suck, I just won't watch.
   13. steagles Posted: March 23, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4395088)
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 23, 2013 at 06:36 PM (#4395069)
Eh, there are too many other ways to enjoy baseball; watch other teams on MLB, ESPN, etc., my fantasy teams, my DMB sim teams, etc.

If they suck, I just won't watch.
i think you've now moved into the top 25.
   14. depletion Posted: March 23, 2013 at 08:39 PM (#4395113)
Also if you're a fan of a bad team, the flaws are to be celebrated. If you can't enjoy Shawon Dunston sailing a throw into the third row potentially decapitating some drunk client of an ad agency sitting in the boxes for free then you are not a baseball fan.
rule #3, if you're going to lose, it's best to lose spectacularly.

These are both excellent. Never cheer during a bench clearing brawl, because inevitably your guys will get the season ending injuries.
I remember rooting for Roy White to hit .300 during the ill-fated CBS era.

Class guy. Just snuck into the Billy Martin era and got on some winning teams.
Watch 14-2 blowouts to the last pitch, you might see something redeeming in the last guy off the bench.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 23, 2013 at 09:14 PM (#4395122)
i think you've now moved into the top 25.

Exxxxxxxcellent!
   16. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: March 24, 2013 at 06:09 AM (#4395207)
#15 - snapper, hasn't your ranking changed anyway with the impending new season?

And for more advice on being a fan of a horrible team, ask anybody who suffered through the 2008 Washington Natinals. They made at least as many goofs off the field as on to provide a bottomless pit of embarrassment.
   17. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: March 24, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4395213)
Also if you're a fan of a bad team, the flaws are to be celebrated. If you can't enjoy Shawon Dunston sailing a throw into the third row potentially decapitating some drunk client of an ad agency sitting in the boxes for free then you are not a baseball fan.


Hell yes. Following the Braves at the tail end of the 80s, I enjoyed every one of Dale Murphy's painful and helpless flails at a low outside pitch. And the high point was 1989 when Andres Thomas started 24 games as the cleanup hitter in a year in which he hit 213/228/316. Any team can hit a crappy player in the heart of the order, but only a special few can take the guy with the 53 OPS+ (last in the league!) and bat him 4th. Seriously, if you're going to be awful it's better to be memorably awful.

(Thomas actually hit 309/313/402 as a cleanup hitter, so maybe it wasn't an entirely awful choice. Just a mostly awful one.)
   18. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 24, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4395256)
#15 - snapper, hasn't your ranking changed anyway with the impending new season?

I don't know. I thought the Yankees weakness might hurt me in the standings; it's hard to be an insufferable fan when your teams having an 82 win season.
   19. Esoteric Posted: March 24, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4395283)
And for more advice on being a fan of a horrible team, ask anybody who suffered through the 2008 Washington Natinals. They made at least as many goofs off the field as on to provide a bottomless pit of embarrassment.
Ah yes. The glorious Elijah Dukes era. Though honestly I'm hard-pressed to distinguish 2007-2010 in terms of truly embarrassing crapulence. 2007 was the year of "Nook Logan, starting centerfielder" (and Charlies Slowes' immortal "WHAT WAS HE THINKING? WHERE WAS HE LOOKING? WHY??!?" call), and 2009 was the "Natinals" season. They all had their particular delightful varieties of dispiriting awfulness.

One reason 2012 felt so incredibly, unpredictably sweet is because I really did watch nearly every single damn game of the Joke Nationals seasons...it made the sudden turnabout that much more exhilarating. It sure feels funny to be going into 2013 as the closest thing to a consensus pick as the best team in baseball...a little unnerving, honestly.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 24, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4395287)
This is a really fun, really great article. I recommend it to Andy in particular!

I enjoyed it until I read the first and only comment, and mentally changed the proper names and verb tense to fit the upcoming Annus Horribilis. This was Janet Dobbins' suggestion for making it through the season:

Also: Listen to the radio. [John Sterling], the [censored] broadcaster in baseball history, [will do] his best work when the [Yankees open the 2013] season with 21 losses. [He'll talk] about baseball, plus everything else under the sun. [He'll do] his usual baseball impressions, but also impressions of late-night TV stars, Henry Kissinger, and others. The poor baseball [will unlock] the other dimensions of his talent.


Between that scenario and a midair plane crash between the Yankees and my 50 favorite people on Earth, I'd have to think long and hard about which thought would be the more unbearable.
   21. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 24, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4395293)
My favorite part of rooting for a mediocre-to-bad team is pretending like I think they're awesome to fans of other teams in the division.
   22. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 24, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4395301)
My favorite part of rooting for a mediocre-to-bad team is pretending like I think they're awesome to fans of other teams in the division.

That's ducky for you, but you might sometimes do us the favor of re-setting your dog whistle so that Joey B doesn't jump in and turn some of the Nats fans against them. He does seem to yap every time you make a comment about the NL East.

OTOH since that cynical strategy bespeaks of utter depravity and evil on an exquisitely high level, I guess I should tip my hat and give you a "Well done" and another foam tomahawk.
   23. Esoteric Posted: March 24, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4395359)
OTOH since that cynical strategy bespeaks of utter depravity and evil on an exquisitely high level, I guess I should tip my hat and give you a "Well done" and another foam tomahawk.
I see where you're coming from, Andy (a salute to the painfully loyal Bolshevik deviationist attitude of "my party, right or wrong!" that seized even Trotsky), but honestly, I've never once felt the need to pretend about such things. When the Nationals were so terrible as to be a seemingly permanent punchline I enjoyed acknowledging it, along the lines of "hey, the heart has its reasons." And quietly, in my mind, I would also think "just you wait...one day..."
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 24, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4395414)
Actually my comment had nothing to do with the Yankees**, since as a Washingtonian the Nats are my NL team. My take on this year's upcoming pinstriped disaster is that it was bound to happen at some point, given the combination of leaden contracts, low draft choices, old age, and the fact that with old age comes injuries. I'm slightly surprised it took this long for the bottom to begin dropping out, and I only hope that by about 2016 they'll be primed for another run. I'd only be complaining if I were a season ticket holder rather than an Extra Innings subscriber, and I'll still be watching and rooting for them in spite of my thought that it won't be in their long term interest to win 75 or 80 games instead of 65 or 70.

**And anyway, Sam knows better than to diss a team that won more championships in 49 months than his tomahawking Foam Fingers have won in 3 cities and 110 years.
   25. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: March 24, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4395432)
Though honestly I'm hard-pressed to distinguish 2007-2010 in terms of truly embarrassing crapulence.

They all also seemed to somehow beat up on the Braves.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4395443)

They all also seemed to somehow beat up on the Braves.


Despite playing 115 games under .500 during that four-year stretch, the Nats posted a 37-35 record against the 18-over .500 Braves.

Yep, I'd say your gripe is accurate enough.

   27. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:07 PM (#4395446)
Better to focus on the positive, like making the All-Star team or hitting a significant benchmark. I remember rooting for Roy White to hit .300 during the ill-fated CBS era.

My focus this year will be entirely on Cano. I wonder how he will respond to being pitched around all year while Youkilis or Vernon Wells is "protecting" him. I could see his walk rate sky rocketing or him really expanding his zone and living and dying on BABIP. Should be entertaining either way.

That is, if this team turns out to be as bad as it currently looks.

Also if you're a fan of a bad team, the flaws are to be celebrated. If you can't enjoy Shawon Dunston sailing a throw into the third row potentially decapitating some drunk client of an ad agency sitting in the boxes for free then you are not a baseball fan.

That's what Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli are for!

And like most Yankee fans in DC, I will be watching a healthy amount of Nats games this year too.

   28. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 24, 2013 at 07:07 PM (#4395448)
Seriously, if you're going to be awful it's better to be memorably awful.

This was my attitude after the Adrian Gonzalez trade last year. I found the line-ups the Red Sox were running out there in September absolutely hilarious.
   29. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 24, 2013 at 09:11 PM (#4395539)
2009 was the "Natinals" season


They're all Natinal seasons. No matter what happens, they will always be the Natinals.
   30. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: March 24, 2013 at 09:12 PM (#4395540)
OTOH since that cynical strategy bespeaks of utter depravity and evil on an exquisitely high level, I guess I should tip my hat and give you a "Well done" and another foam tomahawk.


*Kisses* you crotchety old front running bastard. Big wet kisses.

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