It's kinda nice to root for a loser

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Fulton County Stadium empty.jpgI disagree with Charles Krauthammer on almost everything, but he and I are hand in hand about the pleasure of rooting for a losing team. He’s a Nats’ fan, you see, and though he’d like to see some winning baseball, he’s just fine if it takes its sweet time arriving:

I go for relief. For the fun, for the craft and for the sweet, easy cheer at Nationals
Park. You get there and the twilight’s gleaming, the popcorn’s popping, the
kids’re romping and everyone’s happy. The joy of losing consists in
this: Where there are no expectations, there is no disappointment . . . No one’s happy to lose, and the fans cheer lustily when the Nats win.
But as starters blow up and base runners get picked off, there is none
of the agitation, the angry, screaming, beer-spilling, red-faced ranting
you get at football or basketball games.

The Braves have either been a winning team or a respectable team for 19 years now, but my love affair with baseball was solidified between 1985 and 1990 when they sucked eggs night-in, night-out. I didn’t go to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and take it in like Krauthammer does the Nats, but I got something close to the low-leverage, amiable experience watching on TBS each night. Even the sound production on those broadcasts seemed designed to be low key and to lower expectations.

Krauthammer’s best line in the piece is “you root, root, root for the home team, but if they don’t win ‘it’s a
shame’ — not a calamity.”  I totally dig that. Don’t get me wrong: I want my team to win. But unlike the way I get during Ohio State’s football season, I can enjoy baseball even if they don’t, because it truly is a pastime more than it is a sport as that term has come to be thought of. There are winners and losers, but all the fans win for having been able to take in the ballgame.

It’s a great show. It’s a great experience. And in some weird way, it’s almost more enjoyable when the expectations are at their lowest.  If I lived in D.C. or Pittsburgh or Kansas City I’d probably buy Nats’ season tickets to get a taste of that.

Javier Baez, D.J. LeMahieu have disagreement about sign-stealing

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Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.

LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.

There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.

The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.