Ballard's critiques are tough, but fair - and, for me, much appreciated - as they cut through the pretense that so often surrounds the otherwise simple joy - and if you're lucky, shared joys - of watching games being played at their highest levels.
In fact, it's high time to call b.s. on lots of stuff in sports. It's the rare precinct in which we're encouraged to be ourselves, unburdened by the solicitousness and the affectations of polite society. In sports there should be no equivalent of obscure indie rock bands people say they love but never listen to, or Stephen Hawking books that are displayed yet never opened. No, this world is about winning and losing and loving and hating. This is no place for pretense.I know and like Boston fans who when it comes down to it are just good baseball fans. They enjoy talking about your team as well as their own. They respect the game and its history. They're easy to root for.
So for starters, I call b.s. on Red Sox Nation. You are not a "nation." Your fandom and your suffering is no more or less important than anyone else's. To insinuate so is to insult all of us who passionately follow our teams. No, at best you are a province. Please stop migrating.
But then there are the others - the bandwagon jumpers, the BIRGers and CORFers, the never-lived-in-or-near-Boston-nor-knew-anyone-who-did-but-still-manage-to-live-and-die-by-the-Sox types - who give the "Nation" its numbers and its obnoxious qualities.
So Ballard is tough on Red Sox nation. But fair.
Key line: "Your fandom and your suffering is no more or less important than anyone else's." Fans who realize that fact - and they are out there - show a glimmer of the Red Sox mythology that at one time was actually endearing.
More from Ballard:
Moneyballers, come on down, because I'm calling b.s. Not on the stats revolution (valid) or Billy Beane (ahead of his time) or even the measures themselves (OPS is pretty damn useful). No, I'm talking about the holier-than-thous who profess to prefer a game predicated on driving in runs with walks, never stealing bases and acquiring a fleet of Scott Hattebergs. The ideas may have been enlightening, but we all know that when it's late at night and no one's around, you revel in watching Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval bushwhack his way on base and Rays outfielder Carl Crawford swipe second and third. You know why? Because sports aren't homework; they're entertainment.After some initial skepticism, I've come to appreciate the value of the stats revolution in baseball. Heath at Dempsey's Army has helped me with that journey as he often provides valuable context to O's fans by playing the numbers game.
However, as Ballard points out, let's not allow slavish devotion to formulas to keep us from enjoying the bushwhacking and swiping of bases. After all, we're still fans, not GMs.
Key line: "Because sports aren't homework; they're entertainment."
In the end, I think that's the primary point underlying Ballard's entire column: sports are entertainment. So allow yourself to be entertained.