My half-baked “Metafans” idea from this morning is being better received than I thought it would. I knew I should have (a) put it in a book proposal; (b) cashed an advance check; and (c) never written the book and than changed my identity. Way easier than working for a living, ya know? Because, as everyone knows, books about esoteric baseball-related subjects bring forth tremendous advances. I’d ask Rob Neyer about it, but he’s too busy swimming in piles of book cash to listen.
Anyway, I’ve received a couple of comments like this one from reader nyetjones:
[W]hat you call meta-fandom seems also integral to fandom itself. Maybe not the world series posters, baseball cards and strat-o-matic playing, but certainly things outside the game itself – e.g. DUI stories, contract disputes, hall-of-fame arguments – imbue the sport with meaning. I think the game in abstract, absent these external stories, would be way less enjoyable for a lot of people.
If you pay attention, it’s amazing how much of the coverage of sports could be construed as so much sewing circle gossip. It gets dressed in terms of “distractions” or “affecting team chemistry,” but ultimately it seems to point to a required interest in the players-as-people and not just baseball machines. How much of the commentary about Milton Bradley is strictly worried with how much his off-field troubles affect the games in which he plays, and how much is just a buzzing, tantalizing tale that gives him sone humanity, however flawed?
I think it’s a lot of the latter, and we’re not always that aware of it and/or willing to admit it.
I can tell you, based on the traffic numbers for this site and others for which I’ve written, the stuff surrounding the game is just as much if not more popular than the actual baseball content. It’s not a representative sample, no, because people who read HBT are here willingly and presumably like the stuff we write about anyway. But there are enough of you to convince me that — yeah — people are interested in the sewing circle stuff too.
Inded, it’s why I’ve always laughed when a commenter tries to insult me by calling me a gossip columnist. I don’t deny it for a second. We just happen to disagree on the value of gossip, that’s all.