|2010: A Fail Odyssey|
I never know what to call the group of all people associated with but not necessarily a part of the Cubs organization: the fans, the media, the bloggers, the whoever. Cubdom. The Cubosphere. The Cubbieverse. Cub Nation. The Fail and Losing Community. We. They. The Empty Set. For the moment, I have decided on the Cubsmos. Instead of the Cosmos, not to be confused with the magazine or the drink or the Kramer. But I digress.
The Cubsmos, or at least large factions within it, seems to be trapped in the past. Not a specific date or era like 1908 or ’69 or the Bartman game. We’re trapped in high school, maybe junior high. As I did then, I’d love to escape the embittered, disenfranchising subculture of vindictive cliques, the suppressed insecure rage, the bizarre false sense of entitlement and melodramatic mock tragedy. But here we are in Cubsmos High. I was going to give ten reasons, and maybe I will at some point, but here are my two favorites.
The Crotchety Old Coach/Gym Teacher thinks ridicule and public punishments are the best motivators. Athletes aren’t professionals, they’re slimy, cocksure ingrates who need to be put in their place. Lack of hustle? Benched! Brain lapse? Benched and insulted! Don’t run out a pop up? You’ll do push-ups until I get tired! I’m sorry . . . but didn’t we hate that guy? Didn’t high school, in a roundabout way, teach us it might be a better idea to treat people with respect and handle matters in a civilized, private, non-roid-rage manner?
When someone does something stupid, it ignites an occasion to talk about every other dumb thing that person has done ever. I don’t think the Cubsmos is alone in this, so I’ll use an example from the Mets’ recent unpleasantness involving K-Rod. When the story broke, I tried to find details of the event that took place, but there were few. What I did find, in almost every article I came across, was a litany of Francisco Rodriguez’s past transgressions that had nothing whatsoever to do with his arrest other than to portray him as someone from whom you would expect this kind of thing:
Last year, Rodriguez signed a three-year, $37-million deal, complete with a $17.5 option for 2012. He is both talented and tempestuous, prone to squabbles. His on-mound celebrations invite occasional scorn. But he still holds the single-season save record.
Yet Rodriguez has been involved in a series of physical altercations in the past. He created a ruckus with former Yankee reliever Brian Bruney last year. There was a reported incident with former Met executive Tony Bernazard. Earlier this year, he engaged in an [sic] dispute with bullpen coach Randy Niemann during the Subway Series.
That’s high school, baby. Not far from that in the greater sporting universe is a very different reporting angle on a very similar story. Jay Mariotti, who also wishes he could unring the domestic violence bell, received a much fairer treatment, at least from most of the news stories I read about the matter. The opinion pieces rip Mariotti to well deserved shreds, but the stories that purport to be news know when to draw the line between facts and personal attacks. For example, the story I linked to earlier ended like this:
When police arrived at the apartment, Mariotti’s girlfriend had reportedly suffered cuts and bruises.
Mariotti is a panelist on the ESPN show “Around the Horn” and regularly writes for Fanhouse.com, a website owned by AOL.
No comments about his quarrelsome nature. No references to the fights he has picked with everyone in the history of sports. It’s almost as though they are intentionally respecting the ideal that the press should avoid sullying the entire potential jury pool. But when it comes to athletes, and especially the Cubs, we take the juvenile approach to journalism.
But it isn’t just the journalists, though I think it’s fair to expect better from them. Before Zambrano was suspended, I couldn’t hear a story from anyone talking about Big Z that didn’t involve an epic retelling of every past angry eruption from Mount Zambrano. Same thing happened with Milton Bradley. Why? I wish just a few more of the fans, the media, and the Cubs themselves just say, “Hey, he messed up. Whether he’s done other things before, so what? It doesn’t make the incident worse, it just makes us less patient.”
I guess this post has been robbed of its rhyme and reason. Well, not the rhyme; I rhymed facts with attacks. But it has gotten a tad sloppy, just like my high school English papers. So I’ll just cut to the point: is it too much to ask to be grown ups, at least for those of us who aren’t still in high school?