I got lost. To be completely honest, I still kinda am. Not lost lost as in “I have no fricking idea where I am but I can’t admit it to my wife and I’ll be damned if I ask for directions” lost that dads have a tendency of doing. That type of lost will probably never happen to anyone under the age of 40 due to GPS tracking on our phones/watches/tablets/cars/hovercraft/Ubers. No, I got lost in the way baseball has lost a lot of fans over the years: more responsibilities1 means less time to devote to lineup analysis, pitch count arguments, and ridiculous trade rumors wherein @TommyTFan2 thinks trading Josh Tomlin, Jason Kipnis, and Yan Gomes for Manny Machado makes sense for both sides. Basically, I was losing interest in the day-to-day minutiae of a 162-game slog through the summer of a sport I have dedicated a great deal of time in watching/writing about.
I never thought it would happen to me. I always made time for the Tribe. I pay the monthly $3 charge to MLB.tv to get the radio call of the games on my phone.3 I would get in fights with friends about how good the roster is, despite shutouts and bullpen implosions. “It’s a long season. It’s only one game. They will make a move at the deadline.” These are all arguments when so-called friends would try to kick out of being a fan. Now I’m the one barely keeping tabs on a team that I have followed for as long as I can remember.
It happened easily enough. Time got away from me. Not having cable meant
stealing borrowing someone else’s DirectTV log in, logging in from my phone or computer, and then setting up casting on my television. It was a few extra steps that weren’t difficult, but annoying. Then came the extra busy-ness. Added duties at my church meant more meetings more often.4 A death in the family meant having to decide arrangements and figuring out who was doing what, and that meant me doing a eulogy. All of this occurring whilst Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor were doing their best Michael Jordan/Larry Bird McDonald commercials impressions: 3-4 two home runs, four RBI says Frankie. Okay, how about 4-5, one home runs, two doubles, and a steal says Jose.
Never have I ever thought that I would be on the outside looking in on a division-leading team, a team sporting two players vying for MVPs, a team with no less than four stud pitchers all in their early-to-mid primes. Am I getting too old? Am I becoming blase due to the recent run of success? Is the rest of the AL Central collectively becoming the worst group of teams in decades muting the accomplishments of a great squad of players? Or is it more likely that the residual yuckiness of the competition in the division is actually propping up a flawed franchise with more and more holes the closer they get to the light?
The problems in the bullpen have helped deter my interest. Watching the flotsam flounder after the starter is pulled has become old hat. Andrew Miller might be walking through that door, but the big left-hander alone isn’t getting it done. Neil Ramirez and Oliver Perez have been handy, but the cracks are starting to show. Even Cody Allen looked average last night as he was called upon in a non-save situation to 1) get him work and 2) because manager Terry Francona doesn’t trust anyone else and we all saw what happened there.
The outfield is another stake in the coffin. The long history of me hating the Michael Brantley option is well documented and repeatedly hearing fans and other writers bring up how stupid I should feel due to his success this season is exhausting, especially when we all should just be celebrating a good season by a great person. Lonnie Chisenhall having the calves of a newborn child is disappointing but not surprising. Bradley Zimmer having the season from hell stunted the growth of a player many thought to be the next Grady Sizemore. While Tyler Naquin in a corner spot has been a revelation, having to tune in and see Rajai Davis and his wRC+ of 68 regularly play in center would give anyone reason to turn off the TV and smash it with a bat.
Maybe I’m a hater now. Maybe I hate watching baseball. Maybe I’ve lost my fandom. I know we5 have a good team, but some of the extenuating circumstances have soured me. Why couldn’t they have gotten someone in the offseason to help out in the outfield and/or the bullpen? There were options available then, more and better options than what is available now, weeks away from the trade deadline. Why can Tito not get through the head of Francisco Mejia that his team needs him? Whatever happened to Yandy Diaz? Why can’t this organization develop relief pitchers? WHERE IS THE BEEF? Questions that will never be answered yet will haunt fans and writers for years.
It’s entirely possible I’ll find my way again. Maybe once things calm down a bit in the life of Gerbs, I’ll be able to sit down an enjoy a game again. I watched some of last nights affair, especially after receiving what seems like the 500th celebratory “Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose” text from one of my best friends.6 I was not tuning into the ninth, despite our Slack channel lighting up with expletives and at least one “this is fine” GIF.
Come October I’ll be back on the bandwagon. Just like all the other fans I used to despise. I guess you truly do either die a hero or live long enough to become a villain.
- i.e. having a baby and setting up a…gender reveal party…it’s a girl by the way. [↩]
- Not a real account as far as I can tell. [↩]
- I am a hardcore Tom Hamilton fan, despite him being mostly a one trick pony at this point in his career. [↩]
- If you’ve never been in leadership at a church, you have no idea how many meetings occur despite the fact that people don’t get anything done in said meetings. [↩]
- Ah the “we” fans use to describe the ballclub they root for. Signs I’m not totally lost [↩]
- Imagine the “Jose’s” being sung like they do at the ballpark. [↩]