Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Life, Baseball, And Cynicism
2007-03-06 14:10
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.

But then the NLCS happened.

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?

2007-03-06 17:27:04
1.   Ken Arneson
I used to feel similarly, that some of the emotions I experience (both positive and negative) ought to be suppressed somehow. But at some point in recent years-- a mid-life crisis, I suppose--I finally figured out that I need to embrace all my emotions honestly.

It's an extremely difficult thing to change. To let yourself be free to feel what you actually feel, after a lifetime of keeping those things bottled up, is a terribly hard habit to break.

The other day after Rich Harden pitched, I felt absolutely giddy. So I expressed that over on Catfish Stew. Of course, I got the "don't get too excited, it's just one start in spring training, doesn't mean anything" comment, but I don't care.

Of course, it's just spring training, and of course it doesn't mean Rich Harden will strike out five out of every seven batters he faces. I know that. But I also know I felt giddy about it, and I'm not going to deny myself that emotion just because logic tells me otherwise. I watch these games to experience the emotions, so doggone it, I'm going to experience them, and if logic doesn't like it, screw the logic.

So if Mark Prior throwing 84mph fastballs depresses you, I say, go ahead and feel depressed. Logic and emotions don't have to match. They can contradict each other, and embracing the fact that they can, I think, makes both the logic and the emotions more pure.

2007-03-06 19:31:59
2.   rynox
Great article. When Kerry Wood hit that HR in the '03 playoffs to tie the game I actually kissed the TV. The rest, of course, is history. =)
2007-03-07 19:43:47
3.   Mark T.R. Donohue
I probably took the coward's way out after the 2003 NLCS when I "broke up" with the Cubs and switched allegiances to the Rockies. If being a Cubs fan is a disease, being a Rockies fan is like a mild topical infection. You could go get a cream for it or something, but it'll probably just go away if you wait it out.
2007-03-07 21:54:08
4.   rynox
That's an amusing and disturbing metaphor.

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