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Life, Baseball, And Cynicism
by Phil Bencomo
I have a condition. If it has a medical name, I don't know it, nor do I particularly care to. If gets the best of me sometimes, despite my honest attempts to ward it off.
It's a malignant disease, really, spreading through mind and body a little bit more each year. Though it has been frequently beaten into remission, it always comes back stronger and faster than before.
I call it the fanatically abject syndrome, or fan's disease for short.
Fan's disease is a terrible affliction, and anyone who has been let down year after arduous year is at great risk. Whether from home, work, or play, disappointment is the leading cause, and few have not felt the disease's wrath.
The disease strikes early, usually before the age of 10, when the harsh realities of the world first become evident and crush impossible hopes and dreams. The result is devastation, and fan's disease firmly grabs hold.
But even after hope and faith are lost, the disease can still be beaten. Good fortune helps stave off the effects, if only for a short time. Joyous events like marriage and the birth of a child beat it into the deepest crevices of the mind, alongside things like birthdays, anniversaries and the collective works of James Joyce.
But fan's disease can never truly be beaten, even by the greatest of accomplishments; it will always slowly creep back to drain the hope from your soul.
In late 2003, the disease within me was greatly diminished maybe even close to final subversion, which remains ever elusive.
Despair took hold. After so many years, to be so close, but turned away a mere arm's reach from glory. 2004 rattled the ailment, but by season's end it was back and unfazed.
It's still something I struggle with today. I don't aspire to be negative, but years of disappointment have left me jaded. Some of you took exception to my comments about Mark Prior, and thinking about them now, I wish I hadn't written them. I'm a fan first and analyst second, and sometimes that fact, when amplified by cynicism, becomes terribly clear. I've grown frustrated with Prior, but now thinking with a far clearer and less reactionary mind, I'm not ready to give up hope.
So thanks for keeping my head held high where it belongs, not down in the muck that is fan's disease.
After all, without a dream to chase, what's the point of living?