Offday “Blog Club” Discussion: Hating

Since the season started, I’ve been trying to come up with new ideas for posts on offdays. Last season, we had a “This week in Twins History” series. I listed all the interesting things that had happened in Twins history during a particular calendar week. I liked it. It was fun. But a funny thing about history is that it tends to stay the same so writing the same sort of series THIS year would have been, well, redundant. Maybe I should have thought about that before starting that series and just listed a couple of things every week, so I’d have more stuff to mention THIS season… and next season… but, seriously, who among us really thought this blog would survive for a second season? Thank God there’s no Nielsen Ratings for blogs, right?

Anyway… I’ve come up with an idea.

Have you ever been a member of a book club? You know… where you all agree to read the same book by a set date and then you get together and discuss the book? No? Well, me either, actually. That always sounded too much like what they used to call Literature Class, to me. I like to read… I just like to do it on my own time.

So, no, I’m not suggesting we do a book club (though it might not be a bad idea in the offseason).

But what about a “Blog Club”?

We’ll pick a blog post… maybe one from another Twins blog… or from a blog focused on another MLB team… or maybe just a general sports blog. We’ll link to it in the morning of a Twins offday and maybe write a bit about our feelings about the subject in the post, then turn it over to you, our readers, to click the link, read the post and give us your comments.

I happen to like the idea, but then it’s my idea and I generally feel a pretty high level of support for most of my own ideas. But, of course, this could be a total disaster. It does rely two things I have very little control over.

1. It assumes we actually have readers.

2. It requires that at least some of those readers participate.

Neither is exactly a given, these days.

Let’s start with this blog entry from my personal favorite blogger/writer/author, Joe Posnanski. It’s entitled The Case For Rooting Against LeBron.

Posnanski grew up in Cleveland, so he’s not a LeBron James fan, but this isn’t really about LeBron. If you aren’t an NBA fan (and welcome to the club, I’m not either), it’s OK… it’s still a good read and worthy of discussion. If it helps you to get more interested in the topic, think of it as The Case For Rooting Against A-Rod. The case, as Posnanski makes it, is exactly the same.

I almost always agree with Posnanski, which is a bit scary, actually. I don’t almost always agree with anyone. So it’s a little comforting that, in this case, I don’t agree with him 100%.

Maybe only 90%.

Posnanski’s argument is that it makes no sense to hate an athlete who is, in Poz’s view, just an entertainer who’s created a character. We like players who play for our team and hate players who play for rival teams.

Obviously, Poz has never read the things some Twins fans have said/written about Nick Punto and Michael Cuddyer.

I just can’t buy the “just playing a character” thing. I know he’s correct in that there’s no way for most of us to know whether a given player is really a “good guy” or a “bad guy” who warrants our love or hate, respectively. But these guys don’t generally live in total isolation from their communities and fan bases, either.

I do think that fans of a team should, at least between the lines, be supportive of their players. It does, in fact, bother me when people say/write ugly stuff about any of the Twins players and I don’t understand how people’s brains can hold such vile thoughts toward some guys, much less how they can allow themselves to openly express those thoughts.

I’ve seen enough of Carl Pavano in spring training to know I don’t particularly care for him, personally. I think he’s overpaid for the value he provides. But I don’t carry those feelings in to a game. When he pitches well, I’m happy about it… I don’t sulk and lay in waiting until he gives up his next HR so I can talk about what scum I think he is. I also give him credit for things like the community work he participated in this past weekend in the Twin Cities. My view of him is based on VERY limited exposure and I readily admit that I could be quite wrong about him.

Compare that to the treatment that Punto and Cuddyer and Butera and, lately, Mauer all get among some segments of the fanbase.

It’s obvious that some people actually sulk when those guys have done well! Those fans aren’t even heard from when someone gets a game winning hit or goes on a hot streak (unless it’s to give a backhanded “building his trade value” comment). Are Cuddyer and Mauer overpaid? Yeah. But I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t take every penny from their employer that they could get. What’s worse is that people seem to hold it AGAINST these guys that they ARE active in the community or have reputations for being genuinely good people. That’s absurd, to me.

Unlike Posnanski, I don’t think our athletes are just playing good and bad characters like professional wrestlers and I don’t feel they should be treated like they are. These people are human and they have families and friends and some of them genuinely care about the fans. They want to be liked. Hell, we ALL want to be liked, so why wouldn’t they, too? Getting booed by opposing fans when you come to the plate is a sign of respect, in a way. Getting trashed by your home fans when all you’ve ever done is give your best effort for the team you play for and they root for… that’s just being hurtful and there’s no reason for that except that someone LIKES being hurtful.

I’ll criticize a player’s performance if I feel it’s warranted, whether it’s someone I like or someone I don’t. I’ll also celebrate a guy’s success, regardless of how I feel about him.

Now… go read Posnanski’s post and let us know in the comments what you think!

- JC