Baseball is perhaps the most populist of all sports. It gets down to some of that egalitarianism that our country was founded on — better than most any other pursuit when it’s at its best. But as individual fans, we are still deeply egocentric.
Here is some evidence: If your team loses a game, especially a big game, and you were not watching or not present or not devoting all of your energies as a fan, you cannot help but think against all of your rational capabilities that it is somehow your fault.
The Brewers helped me avoid feeling guilty about not being True Blue Crew fan on Sunday by coming back from four runs down to beat those wily Mets. Kapler had a homer, Éric Serge Gagné didn’t spit the bit and got his three outs as ordered. Things worked out.
But if it hadn’t, it would have been all my fault. This nagging feeling of “my team’s fortunes revolve around me” is persistent even though there’s plenty of evidence that wins and losses have nothing to do with whether you’re paying attention.
For example, I was working on a busy Saturday night during the Packers Snow Globe Game. Posh was enjoyed the game from sunny Florida — happily thousands of miles away from the nearest snowstorm. It was a party. When the clock ran out, the whole restaurant did a gold-colored shot (pineapple juice and Malibu, I think) with some green-colored whip cream on top. But I hadn’t watched much of the game and didn’t feel like I — or “we” accomplished anything.
I was also working during the NFC Championship game. As much as I maintained a certain level of detached indifference to the Packers — and I think I’ll always put them in the rumble seat of my mind’s station wagon, behind the Badgers and Brewers — my heart was in my throat. I could not physically calm myself, despite repeating mantras of “Relax, you don’t like Brett Favre as much as all these other cheddarheads.” When the Giants finally scratched a win out of the Frozen Tundra, I felt like I had neglected my personal responsibility to watch and focus positive energy on every down, every TV timeout.
Conversely, I took an extra long break from work on a Friday night just so I could watch the entire second half of the Wisconsin-Davidson game — easily the Badgers worst half of basketball all year. A public humiliation.
But then the egocentrism shows up, in reverse. Was it because I was watching? Was I a curse? A jinx?