Sigmund Freud, who’s death occurred 75 years ago today, once said
Indeed there are cases in which even the physician must admit that for a conflict to end in neurosis is the most harmless and socially tolerable solution. … If we may say, then, that whenever a neurotic is faced by a conflict he takes flight into illness, yet we must allow that in some cases that flight is fully justified, and a physician who recognizes how the situation lies will silently and solicitously withdraw.
To be a baseball fan (or a fan of any sport, for that matter) one must accept the role of conflict in one’s life. Being a fan is inherently paradoxical, as sports are generally seen as a rest from the real world, and yet to find rest may be to remove yourself from areas of significant emotional conflict. If this September of the 2014 baseballing season has taught us anything, it’s that our national pastime is anything but devoid of conflict. Our teams toy with our emotions not only year to year but even game to game as their level of competency seems to be in a continual state of flux. Logic says the Orioles shouldn’t be a nearly 100 win team. Logic says the Tigers should have easily won their division. Logic says the Brewers, Giants, and Athletics shouldn’t have made such a drastic turn from division leading to wildcard fighting. But a baseball season is anything but logical. It’s a play with no script that changes randomly from one scene to the next, shaking off all notions of consistency or foundational peace. Per Freud’s quote, it would seem that being a baseball fan is inherently neurotic.
You’ve got to be a little neurotic to write long, daily, meandering introductions to posts which could be summed up in a few words, so in this baseball fan’s case Freud’s quote couldn’t be more true.
RAW PERFORMANCE PLAYER OF THE DAY
I have this strange affinity of players who walk more than they strike out, this year there are only two players doing that: Victor Martinez and Jose Bautista. VMart has been presented in this column before, so it’s only appropriate that Bautista should make his own appearance. Last night the aging Dominican collected a couple singles, a homerun, and a walk as the Blue Jays dismantled the Mariners 14 to 4. As if his offensive performance weren’t enough, he also made a beautiful diving catch that may have costed the Mariners their entire season. May have costed them, but probably not. Either way, it was a great catch, and for that we applaud him.
CONTEXTUAL PLAYER OF THE DAY
If you’ve been around baseball for any length of time you know that baseball fans love a good underdog story. It’s something that all fans, regardless of team affiliation can get behind. Great underdog stories have a way of uniting all of us, and it’s for that reason Guilder Rodriguez wins our Contextual POTD. He didn’t do anything spectacular. He didn’t hit a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the 18th. All he did was get two simple hits. What made them magical was that after 9 seasons of playing in the minor leagues, these were Guilder’s very first major league hits. Through all the conflict and randomness and frustration that comes with each baseball season, I still consider it the greatest game in the world, and it’s stories like this that will forever bring me back.