Do you know what is a huge part of baseball and fandom?
Sometimes knowing the team you hated lost is sweeter than seeing your team win.
What was better for Red Sox fans in 2004? Winning the World Series or watching the Yankees choke on their own vomit?
Well, the answer was The World Series, but you had to think about it, didn’t you?
MLB needs to cater to this part of fandom better.
Let me give you an example.
Last night when I was taking my kids for a night walk around our neighborhood, I checked the scores on my phone.
I saw the Yankees let up 4 runs in the 9th and David Robertson blew the save. About 476 blog post ideas popped into my head. When I got home, I went onto MLB.com and looked at the highlights.
And yeah, it was sweet seeing the Rays broadcast of Matt Joyce’s homer. But that’s not what I wanted to see. I wanted to hear Michael Kay’s call. I wanted to hear the Sterling and Waldman call.
I wasn’t cheering FOR the Rays. I don’t even like the Rays. Why would I like the team that knocked out the Red Sox in 2008 and 2011?
But I was rooting AGAINST the Yankees. I wanted to hear some deflation in their voices. A little bitterness.
It would have made my night.
Pettiness is a good thing.
It allows other fan bases to
secretly (or not so secretly) take pleasure in the pain of other teams.
Do yo think the 1986 World Series or the Aaron Boone homer would have
any resonance if it happened to the Brewers or Padres?
If Steve Bartman interfered with a Diamondback left fielder, who would remember.
People LOVE misery and love to revel in it.
And just so you know, this isn’t a recent phenomenon.
Back in 1951 when the Giants and Dodgers were playing the pennant deciding game in the Polo Grounds, a Dodger fan named Larry Goldberg showed his truly petty colors.
In the bottom of the 9th, he could have listened to the Brooklyn radio feed or the National Television Broadcast. Instead he tuned to Russ Hodges, the Giants announcer. Why? Because he hated the Giants and he wanted to hear Hodges cry when the Giants lost.
His pettiness rose to dramatic levels. It wasn’t enough for him to HEAR Hodges cry. He crudely set up a tape recorder next to the radio to save it. Mind you this wasn’t an MP3 recorder or his iPhone or even a tape cassette. This was a real to real radio.
He took the time and the energy to wind a source reel, a feed and string the tape through the gears, all for the purpose to hear a grown man be sad at the end of a baseball game.
Folks. THAT is petty.
And the result? Instead of a Dodgers pennant, Bobby Thomson hit the most famous home run in baseball history. And, as Russ Hodges so eloquently put it, THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT!
(Actually he said “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT” but that wouldn’t have been grammatically correct in that sentence and I know my mom is reading this. Hi mom.)
He sold the recording to WMCA, the Giants station.
The most famous call in baseball history exists for us all to hear simply because of pettiness.
Let us hear the opposing announcers on the highlights.
It’s not enough to experience joy.
We need to know others are sad.