Thursday, October 10, 2013

Baseball Fanology (an old post)

I have not been writing much.  That and my discovery that an old post I put on McCovey Chronicles a few years back is no longer available has made me put an old copy of this up here, just to keep adrift.

On the personal front, the changes are getting rather insane, which goes toward my being unable to write much.  I hope to get an update of sorts written at some point.  Anyway, here is some baseball fanology.

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The following is a lighthearted attempt to describe different types of baseball fans as if they could be categorized into Jungian Archetypes.  Baseball fans vary.  All are unique, like snowflakes, or those weird cross breed dogs where they staple Poodle DNA to a "real" breed hoping for a "real" breed that doesn't shed - like the aussiepoo.  Let's stuff everyone into  little boxes anyways.

[To the Poodle owners I have irritated by suggesting their dogs are not of a "real" breed, relax.  I'm going piss off everyone by the end of this post.]

Any similarity to persons living or dead is no accident at all.


The Fair Weather Fan

An individual of little to no moral value, the Fair Weather Fan (hereafter, the FWF), is the single most common obstacle towards the enjoyment of baseball.  They aspire to associate themselves with winners in a desperate attempt to avoid their own shortcomings.  The seek only euphoria and expect instant gratification.  Most care only for home runs.  Pitching and defense is thought of as time to use the restroom, visit concessions, or make phone calls.

The FWF can often be located when sitting in lower box seats, usually attempting to wave to friends while talking on a cell phone in the background of the televised side view of a players' at bat.

The FWF changes "allegiances" for teams depending on the latest win streaks.  Their closets contain gear from multiple teams.  When asked how long they have followed their current team of choice, a FWF will always provide the defensible qualification "as long as I can remember" before providing a tenuously suspect justification.  Common justifications include: born in [city of team], born near [city of team], lived in [city of team], lived near [city of team], visited and liked [city of team], once drove through [city of team], has a relative who was born in, born near, lived in, lived near, visited and liked, or drove through [city of team], and of course, likes the team colors.

Famous Fair Weather Fans:  Carrot Top, Gary Radnich, Meg Witman, Sylvester the Cat, Zsa Zsa Gabor. 

The Weather Vane Fan

A common fan type.  The Weather Vane Fan (hereafter, the WVF) who's opinions are swayed by the recent events of their team.  The amount their opinions sway varies from WVF to WVF, as does the significance of the events which can cause the sway.  The extreme WVFs are borderline schizophrenics, going from complete confidence to utter depression with each pitch.  Most find their opinions subliminally affected by the last win, loss, or streak.  Other WVFs find their attitudes alter over longer periods, usually defined by eras appropriately labeled according to the positive or negative vibes the WVF has with a given individual (the Sabean era, the Bochy era, the Posey era, etc.)

To some extent, 92.7% of all fans fall within this archetype.

The Optimist

Not the rarest of fans, but you have a better chance of of being struck by lightning than being a true optimist, unless you are also a Yankee fan.  [Money can't by love, but can buy optimism by the barrel.]  Still, the haves and have nots of mlb, on the heels of the steroids era, have the true optimist close to being recognized federally as an endangered species. 

Technically, there is no time requirement towards fan categorization, so there are always plenty of optimists among the newer baseball fans.  This number drops dramatically with every year of being a fan, however, until year 7.  After following baseball for seven years, anyone who can still be optimistic regardless of their team's roster is going to be an optimist for life.

If one approaches the characteristics of optimism rationally, there can only be one conclusion.  The optimist is ignorant.  There can be no other explanation for his bliss-like naivet√©.

Famous Optimists:  Brittany Spears, Felipe Alou, George W. Bush, Mychael Urban, Peter McGowan. 

 The Doomsayer

 It used to be difficult to find a Doomsayer.  People who actually epitomized all that is pessimistic did not speak up as often as they would have liked for fear of losing their few friends.  Then, Al Gore invented the internet.  The Doomsayer had soap box to scream from while protected in the shadow of anonymity.  Countless quiet, seemingly polite individuals would come home from their work day, sit at the computer, and morph into a virtual Golem.

Nothing short of a 10-0 perfect game can satisfy the Doomsayer, and even then, he will complain about the terrible announcers that ruined the televised event.  The Doomsayer is compelled to correct everyone, but only if it pushes an opinion further towards the negative.  Logic need not enter any equation, nor consistency.  All that matters to the Doomsayer is that the status quo is unacceptable, and this point is repeated ad nausium in every conceivable angle the Doomsayer can articulate.

Ironically, the never satisfied Doomsayer is quite often the only fan of a non-championship team to be content at the end of a season.  They rest comfortably under the not often logical conclusion that their team did not win the World Series because they were right.  The manager should have called the plays the doomsayer pointed out after the fact.  The GM should have made the trades he suggested (like Randy Winn for Albert Pujols) if the organization was serious about winning.

In the event his team actually wins the World Series, the Doomsayer conveniently changes tunes, becoming a Fair Weather Fan in the process, further lowering their value to a society.

Famous Doomsayers:  Glenn Beck, John, Nostradamus, and Tim Kawakami.

The Math Guy

The only thing separating the Math Guy (hereafter, the MG) from your average computer geek math genius is that the MG actually likes sports.  Some even play.

The MG knows far to much about statistics.  In their mind, baseball is a complicated version of blackjack, where the discovery of new data to incorporate into a statistical analysis is tantamount to card counting.  The MG really should be counting cards at a blackjack table instead, but they are usually gifted enough at computers or some other such nerdy enterprise as to not need to worry about money.  An MG is most comfortable talking to other MGs who understand their Saber metric terms.  They often consider non-MGs to be "missing the point," or, "not even watching the same game."

The MG, however, rarely delves into non-numerical aspects of a team.  Club house chemistry is a concept they know exists, but do not really understand.  This is why the MG is always a male.  Women, even mathematically gifted women, have emotional depth sufficient to understand the complexities and the necessity of interpersonal relationships.

The MG rarely has a girlfriend, though they are married for their money.

Famous Math Guys:  Theo Epstein.  Those guys at Fangraphs.

The Know-It-All

While the Know-It-All is more of adjective to add on to a classic fan archetype (like the "Know-It-All Weather Vane Fan" or the "Know-It-All Doomsayer"), they are worthy of their own archetypal classifications nonetheless, especially as they are experienced in greater numbers and far greater frequency the longer one remains on-line.  They must, however, be broken down into sub-categories.

A.  The True Know-It-All (aka The Know-It-All)

The rarest of all fans.  The Know-It-All (hereafter, the KIA) is to be both honored and pitied.  The KIA lives baseball.  The KIA spends nearly all waking moments thinking about baseball, reading articles, studying scouting reports, and analyzing statistics.  The knowledge within their mind is incalculable.  They rarely offer their opinion without clearly stating so.  That which is fact, they know as fact, and they keep it separate from any statements of opinion which could be susceptible to error.  The KIA must be honored given their rarity and the amount of accurate information they can impart during a discussion.  However, they must also be pitied for having no life outside of their obsession for baseball.

The discovery of a KIA is incredibly difficult, especially since the advent of the internet, which provides an Almost-But-Not-Quite-A-Know-It-All or even a clever Nowhere-Near-Know-It-All (both discussed below) the ability to appear knowledgeable.  Absent personal knowledge or extensive reputational evidence, one should never label anyone a KIA.  To do so would significantly raise the likelihood of finding one's own self labeled a Nowhere-Near-Know-It-All.

Famous Know-It-Alls:  Peter Gammons.

B.  The Almost-But-Not-Quite-A-Know-It-All (aka The Wanabe)

The simplest definition of an Almost-But-Not-Quite-A-Know-It-All (hereafter, the Wanabe) is an individual who believes he is a KIA.  The Wanabe is completely unaware of the most basic of KIA principles - "You never know enough."  On the contrary, the Wanabe is quite content with the mistaken presumption that they already know everything they need to know, and that any unfamiliar situation can be easily figured out through their omniscience.

Make no mistake, the Wanabe is a knowledgeable individual, just not nearly as knowledgeable they believe.  As one finds with the Doomsayer, "I told you so," is a common utterance of the Wannabe.  This is because all Doomsayers are Wannabes by definition, at least until their team actually wins it all and they transform into a Fair Weather Fan, who, by default, are no longer acknowledged to know anything whatsoever.

And while every Doomsayer is a Wanabe, the Wanabe can be any type of fan.  Sadly, the internet allows the Wanabe an audience of Optimists and Fair Weather Fans which he can pontificate to under the delusion of KIA status, usually creating Wanabe Optimists and Wanabe Fair Weather Fans in the process.  One need only turn on a radio or read a published article to find the work of such Wanabes, though they are by no means limited to professional writers. 

Just about anyone who expresses an opinion is a Wanabe to some extent.  Those with considerable knowledge yet still susceptible to pride are Greater Wanabes (GW).  Those with limited knowledge are Lesser Wanabes (LW).  The more one learns about baseball, the more individuals you believed to be Greater Wanabes become Lesser Wanabes with every new bit of knowledge you attain. 

Famous Almost-But-Not-Quite-A-Know-It-Alls:   Buster Olney (GW) and Bob Costas (LW).

C.  The Nowhere-Near-Know-It-All (aka The Idiot)

The Idiot, or Nowhere-Near-Know-It-All, is identical to the Wanabe in their mistaken self assessment, only their actual baseball knowledge is so low as to be undeserving of Lesser Wanabe categorization.  This is no small distinction.  The acceptable amount of knowledge for a Lesser Wanabe classification is quite minimal, knowing a mere 40% or one's favorite team's roster is usually sufficient.  Outright stupidity spoken with arrogance is required to be an Idiot.  For example, an Idiot may confidently proclaim the mistaken belief that the rules of school yard kickball, like do-overs or asking the pitcher for baby-bouncies, apply to mlb.

In person, these individuals can often be identified before uttering a single word, by scent, having likely soiled themselves by 10 O'clock in the morning.  Occasionally, they manage to masquerade as Lesser Wanabes, if only momentarily, by cutting and pasting other people's opinions on the internet or by the reading of prepared statements from behind a podium or on the radio.  Never fear.  Their true selves always surface.

There is really no excuse for them.  There is no legitimate justification for their continued existence.  Yet, they always manage to find themselves in positions of power or substantial influence.  Murphy's Law.

Famous Nowhere-Near-Know-It-Alls:  Bob Fitzgerald, Bud Selig, and Joe Buck.

The Dodger Fan

Originally believed by most Cognitive Psychologists to be the result of a birth defect linked to chromosomal damage from smog inhalation, the consensus today is that the syndrome is learned rather than innate.  Evidence suggests that the absent minded masses of Los Angeles turn to the Dodgers after their original entertainment of choice is no longer available, much as a starving vagrant will root through animal feces hoping for undigested matter which can still provide sustenance. 

Some of the more convincing evidence stems from the significant rise in the number of Dodger Fans following the cancellation of some of history's worst television programs.  Some of the largest spikes in fan attendance ever recorded in mlb history for a single team:  1971 Dodgers, following the cancellation of Petticoat Junction, 1981 Dodgers, following the cancellation of the Three's Company spinoff The Ropers, and most recently, in 2008, following the cancellation of ABC's Cavemen.  Rumors have it that, currently, both sides of the McCort's divorce proceedings are stalling in attempts to determine the future boost in team value following the inevitable failure and cancellation of American Idol.

Little is really known about The Dodger Fan as those who have attempted to study them invariably go insane or commit suicide.  What little is known has been deduced from the notes of the fallen.  For the safety of the reader, their attributes must not be discussed in any detail.  It should go without saying that Dodger Fans should be avoided at all costs.  Extended exposure to even the youngest of Dodger fans has been known to cause dizziness, light-headedness, head-ache, stomach ache, nausea, bulimia, diabetes, bleeding of the eyes and/or ears, skin cancer, tuberculosis, syphilis, aneurysm, heart attack, rectal leakage, and in some cases, leprosy.  Exposure to a long time Dodger fan is believed to be the only known cause of spontaneous combustion.


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