Of all the questions I’ve been asked since starting to cover the Pirates none is more frequent than “how can you watch this crappy team every night?” or “I feel bad for you”.
I never understand either of those questions or sentiments really. I should say, I understand what they mean, and why they’d ask. I just don’t see it as some chore. See, I don’t struggle to watch, and yes I know that makes me weird. I can find interest in just about any baseball game.
This doesn’t make me some super fan, or better than you or your neighbor who won’t watch until they get to the playoffs one day. This is the reality of fandom.
What it makes me is wired differently. The way I watch baseball, specifically bad baseball wouldn’t make sense or work for others but I think we understand each other best when we actually try to see things through their eyes.
There are different kinds of Pirates fans out there.
Ok, I’ll describe someone you definitely know. Like, for some people, they can just have a few things such as time, a sunny day, and a radio even if only to hear the sights and sounds of baseball for an afternoon. You don’t even need to have invested time in following the team per se, but in general you take in enough sports to get the idea they’re not good. This day they pulled out a 4-3 win in exciting fashion. You know they aren’t good, but that was fun, maybe you keep it to yourself but you look into the game story a bit. maybe check out who’s been decent.
That’s a fan.
That’s a person who will probably visit a message board at some point during the season and drop a comment that shows they don’t really “follow” the team. You know what I mean, something like “What happened to Jamo?”
Then the defenders of the room will descend on the intruder, immediately sensing his or her obvious “not real fan” qualities to punish them with keyboard haymakers.
That’s a realistic fan though. That’s the fan base by in large this team has earned.
You watch them no matter what! You’re currently yelling at my post. Great! Who else is going to read about this baseball team in the second week of February? I need ya! Sincerely though, you have to see you too are wired differently.
We love to pretend it’s about some people being smarter, or more hurt, or saw the 70’s, or so what they’ll be gone, but the reality is, it’s really just how you are wired for ingesting sports.
For me, as I said, I’m weird. I can watch a bad outing by a starting pitcher, be irked obviously that my team is going to lose because of it but still be happy with how he placed his fastball and slider. Maybe, ultimately he won’t be a starter and those two pitches would make him strong in the pen.
I think some of you might call that grasping at straws, and that’s fine, again, my way doesn’t have to work for you. For me, this is like watching the beginning of a movie like Ocean’s Eleven. You don’t know any of the players real well, but you also aren’t going to fast forward to the scene in the safe and experience the same emotion as those who allowed the story to unfold and the characters develop.
Sure, after the movie we both generally understand the story. One of us might just have more depth. One of us might better understand the holes in the story, or a clear way to do a decent sequel. Hey, maybe the people who wrote Ocean’s Eleven didn’t watch cause the sequels all stunk.
Point is, I like the entire story. I don’t mind watching a bad team so long as it’s on the way to no longer being one. And I gather confidence that it’s headed in the right direction by stepping back and taking in the entire picture.
This doesn’t make me smart and you stupid. It makes me different.
We need to realize at some point that when this team wins again, we won’t remember who was there the whole time, versus who jumped in late. We’ll all just be fans.
We won’t get bonus points for believing in Ben Cherington from the jump. We won’t be shunned at the gates for having questions or simply not believing Nutting would do anything he promised.
Essentially, if you find someone less plugged in than you but they seem genuinely interested in what’s going on with the team, don’t let that frustrate you, instead, understand that not everybody wants to see how the sausage is made, they just want to see it on their plate with breakfast.
A great for instance. Another thing I hear constantly is “well what good are all these prospects? We can’t develop players.”
I always start with, that has certainly been true, but literally every aspect of development and everyone involved with it has been replaced. Still have to do it, but…
You’d be shocked how many of those people will actually come back with a hearty “Thanks! I didn’t know” or even just follow up questions asking for more specifics.
When you’re immersed in it like me or many of you, it’s hard to fathom that still being a talking point because we all know there was no MiLB season in 2020 and they’ve changed all this stuff and hired all these new annalists and got all this new equipment and they’re moving players faster, plus Cherington’s history and….
Well, you see how quickly it can turn into word soup and seem mighty uninviting. If you want more people to start to open their mind on some of these concepts, first remember not everyone has been invested to the degree you are, and it doesn’t mean they’re bad fans just different
One day when we’re elbow to elbow again in the sun at PNC, we won’t wonder who was on the message boards typing Spend Nutting – Win Nutting for a story about an international signing for 2.25 million.
Because when the rubber hits the road, we’re all just fans.