There is no particular point to this post. I just needed to rant a little and get some stuff off my chest.
It has been a rough year for us Minnesota Twins fans. No doubt about it. 30 years ago, or even 10, I would have been down-in-the-dumps about such a disappointing season. Nowadays I have other things to worry about. I still follow the team closely and when they win I am happy, but when they fail I just don't get that emotional about it any more.
Bob Feller once told me that people took baseball (and by implication all other professional sports) entirely too seriously, and that his perspective on it changed after he watched shipmates die aboard the USS Alabama during World War II. "It's just a damn game," he told me. "I know people make a living off it. I sure did. And fans enjoy it, and people write about it, and that's great, but it's just a damn game."
I never faced kamikazes as Feller did, but these days I entirely agree.
The recent attacks on Twins catcher Joe Mauer in the Minnesota press are really leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
It is the same taste I get here in Kansas when I watch the local TV sports ranter. . .er, anchor. . .bashing the Royals. It is the same feeling I get when I accidently listen to a few minutes of sports talk radio.
I don't agree with everything Dayton Moore does and I think the Royals organization has made some serious mistakes. It is entirely justified to critique the Mauer contract on purely baseball grounds, putting too much money into one injury-prone basket. But I just can't stand the way the press turns on a dime, going from "Dayton Moore is a genius who will save the organization" to "Dayton Moore's youth movement is a failure," or from "Joe Mauer, Jesus of Minnesota" to "Joe Mauer the Lazy Judas." And fans are even worse than the media people. Perhaps the media folks are just following the fan lead, writing and saying what they think the fans want to hear. Gotta sell those papers, boost those page views.
Is Joe Mauer overpaid? Sure. But I would argue that in terms of social-good-provided, every major league baseball player is overpaid by a large amount. Not that I want the owners to keep the money, either, but the fact is that, despite what the sociopathic Ayn Rand and her acolytes may tell you, economic success is not the same thing as moral virtue. It never has been and it never will be. They are often diametrically opposed, at least by any standard of morality that I wish to live by.
The best human being on Earth probably isn't a baseball player or corporate CEO or sportswriter or blogger. The best person in the world might be a slave laborer in some factory somewhere, or maybe an illegal immigrant toiling 14 hours a day in 90 degree heat in some Florida orange grove to provide for his family. Whoever it is, she or he is probably not going to reap a big economic reward for their virtue.
Writing about minor league baseball and prospects is my job. It is a job I love and one I am very fortunate to have. However, I don't waste neuron firings actually worrying about things like Joe Mauer's contract these days. I don't see baseball players as heroes any more, but scapegoating them isn't any better use of our time.