Got a comment from longtime reader DelawarePhilliesFan in the Carlos Gomez video thread this morning:
There is this interesting streak in Craig….it seems to me to be part contrarian, part defense lawyer, part some sort of big brother protectorate….probably some other things too. As soon as people don’t like a player, he has falls in LOVE with that player and goes on these defense missions.
There is some truth to that, of course. I do tend to be drawn to underdogs or hated figures and I do like to mount unpopular arguments. Just part of how I roll.
However, I think there is a much more interesting question about all of this than why I defend unpopular or hated players like Carlos Gomez: Why, on Earth, do players like Carlos Gomez inspire hatred in the first place?
I get it when an athlete is truly an awful person. Like, in real life. If they’re a criminal or if they’r violent or whatever, obviously, people hating them is understandable. But I am generally baffled at the vast majority of athletes who get placed in the villain role. It’s sports. And while, yes, sports can inspire emotion, I don’t get people who allow it to inspire negative emotion. Or, at the very least, people who hold on to that negative emotion long enough to form character judgments about athletes and to continue beating some drum against them.
Sports are great, but they pale in importance to stuff in real life. And if aspects of them are so unpleasant that they inspire you to hatred or even sustained disapproval — if an athlete angers you to the point where you feel the need to go on about it and let it color your opinions of the game — why on Earth don’t you disengage? Who wants to hate things they don’t have to?
UPDATE: A reader just sent me a link that I think goes a long way to explain all of this.
UPDATE II: This wonderful piece by John Thorn explains a lot of it too. This stuff just fascinates me.