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Mark Teixeira’s Christmas Carol

old-school oriole birdI haven’t read the other sites yet, but it’s interesting that a lot of the discussion here about Mark Teixeira‘s decision to fulfill prophecy has centered around the system that allowed it to happen. I think that makes for a great Christmas Eve topic. Stay with me.

I can’t — and wouldn’t try — to defend the economic system of baseball. It’s broken beyond repair, and anyone who claims otherwise isn’t paying attention.

My point, though, is that we have a choice. We can choose to enjoy the games and the individual players and the “small picture” stuff that makes the game great, or we can let the “big picture” stuff ruin all of that.

What are we really talking about here? Sports in general is a joke. Nobody actually deserves to make millions playing a game. Every major sport is broken, and every system is skewed to make the rich richer (even the saintly NFL). It might be a cruel irony, but they don’t care about us.

I choose to not let these things bother me. Not to ignore them or pretend they’re not there, but just to not let them bother me.

What are you supporting when you put on a hat with a bird logo (Orioles or Ravens)? Or a jersey? Or when you sit down in front of the TV or meet a bunch of friends at the pub?

Are you supporting an economic system? A set of paychecks and eight dollar beer? A win-loss record? If so, you’re out of your mind.

It’s not about those things. It’s about something less tangible but altogether more great. A feeling that’s woven into the social fabric, a feeling that enables a heady mix of nostalgia, faith, fellowship, and empathy. Things that can actually provide small measures of comfort and joy.

Like most good things, it comes with a downside. That downside is the sick, venal machinations of a system that, if it isn’t exactly hostile to us, is certainly indifferent. You have to take one if you want the other.

So, now is actually the perfect time for Teixeira to show his true colors. It gives us a great opportunity to remember why we started caring in the first place. By providing a stark reminder of how stupid it can all be, ‘Ol Tex has defined the “other”.

It’s good to remember what we’re against, because it can strengthen our grip on what we’re actually for. If — and this is a big if — we let it.

Have a good holiday, everyone. Take care of yourselves and feel free to check in once in awhile. Here’s to 2009.

11 comments to Mark Teixeira’s Christmas Carol

  • neal s

    This is the last I’m going to have to say on Teixeira in terms of a main page post. There’ll be a football thread soon — never fear.

  • sci

    Great post Neal. You’re pulling back even further to have a birdseye perspective on the whole shebang. I completely agree with you, but that doesn’t mean that baseball isn’t more fucked than the other pro sports. It is, and it keeps getting worse. And it cuts into the enjoyment and all the pure things you mention there. I couldn’t agree more though, baseball means a ton to me for, as you elegantly put it, “nostalgia, faith, fellowship, and empathy.” And the fact that it’s such an amazing part of this country’s history. But in the end, it is just a sport. Zimbabwe (to name just one example) is completely collapsing, and here I am harping on the Orioles not signing some greedy bullshit baseball player. But it is what it is. I continue to love the game in its pure form, no question. Happy holidays to all…

  • Andrew out of Rochester

    I have nothing to add, but it was a good post, Neal. I love professional sports and can’t imagine a world without them.

    Ok, so it’s Christmas Eve. I feel like I’ve been a part of this place forever now, and I wouldn’t change that for all the world. So everyone be careful out (I almost killed myself running out of my house this morning) and have a good holiday. Get some cool Ravens swag, have some eggnog, and be merry.

    Merry Christmas!

  • sci

    I realize that’s totally off topic, but hey, it’s the holidays…

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i’d like to bah humbug all over this thread but i won’t.

    happy holidays.

  • neal s

    It’s certified humbug-proof.

  • random dude

    Happy Holidays. I don’t chime in that much, but this is one of my favorite sites. Keep up the good work. And that’s to Neal for the site and everyone for commenting all the time.

  • dan the man

    Really good post, Neal. It’s a post that pretty much sums up the Loss Column frame of mind, or the frame of mind we generally strive for. Sports brings to its fans two completely polar feelings: visceral, reactionary joy/disappointment and broad appreciation of the games themselves, and the enjoyment of sharing those games with others.

    To speak on the topic of baseball: it has a lot to answer for. For a minute, it almost seemed like the Yankees were going to move toward developing their farm system and refrain from spending on big name free agents (or at least multiple big name free agents) due to the fact that all their spent money hadn’t been winning them any championships. As a result, it was easy to overlook that baseball is still very much broken until the Yankees rather suddenly decided to return to their old ways. Let’s hope it bites them in the ass.

    Happy Holidays, TLC crew.

  • Greg

    My dad got me a holiday 4-pack including Opening Day. Do my parents know me, or what?

  • Brendan

    Some nice words of wisdom from the Schmucker. I know there’s a huge level of frustration, but I 100% agree with him.

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/schmuck/2008/12/orioles_logic.html