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Say it ain’t so

I’ve been a Mets fan – a fanatic, really – for over thirty years. Since 1976, when I was 10 years old, the first thing I’ll do in the morning is grab the newspaper, turn to the Sports section, and soak up Mets news. I’m talking about a thirty-year-old habit, which I’ve extended to the online realm, like checking ten times a day. I do this in January as much as June. I’m that nuts.

If you want to know why I can tell you about my grandfather, his coming from Russia to New York, his love for the NY Giants and the hours we spent together watching the Mets. Or my own psychology behind my letting a baseball team’s loss ruin my good mood when there’s plenty of other disasters in the world that ought to do a better job. But the bottom line is that I’ve been a Mets fan all my life and that’s that.

If you follow the sport or if you live near a big-media zone like New York, you know the madness that can surround a team when the media smells trouble. In the 70s the Yankees had the Bronx Zoo, a daily soap opera among Reggie, Billy, and The Boss. Embarrassing, really. But I didn’t care – I kind of reveled in watching the hated – and perpetually winning – Yankees roil through turmoil, especially because my team was so terrible at the time.

But that was the tame 70s. Who knew how insane the media circus would become, with blogs, social media, and the wild appetite for celebrity news? I’m 41 years old now. I have zero interest in celebrities lives or celebrity gossip. It’s just more bread and circuses.

Yet now this same media concentration is swallowing up sports. The news around the Mets recently (recent winning streak aside) has read more like something out of Us Magazine than Sports Illustrated. Headlines had been railing about the “firestorm” over what the manager said, what the closer said, what the first baseman didn’t say. ESPN spent multiple innings covering this junk during a Sunday night game, with tight closeups of players’ faces as they “struggle” to overcome the “stress” of playing through the turmoil.

Gimme a break. What is this, high school? I’m a fan of the game on the field, the thinking-person’s part of the game. Strategizing along with the manager. The anticipation; not what’s happening but what’s ABOUT to happen. This is what makes baseball so excruciatingly wonderful.

“He said, she said” is not a game that interests me. At all.

Truth is my 30-year love affair with the Mets – with baseball – has been in jeopardy for while, mostly due to the endless stream of advertising that they slip into every possible nook and cranny of a broadcast. The DVR lets you skip the ever-lengthening commercials between innings but there’s little escape from the in-game interruptions, the “pitching change brought to you by…” or “the game-time temperature,” or “this broken bat” or “spit through the teeth” and on and on. But now the celebritizing of the game makes me pretty much skip the Sports page, the pre-game show and the all-sports radio station here in NY, WFAN. I still watch the game itself but the love affair is being killed off by the endless product pitch and non-sports related carping out of the maddening media. Who needs it?

Anyone who reads this blog knows about my passion for shutting out commercial infotainment, which uses emotional manipulation to push a seductive agenda of satisfaction through purchase. Meantime, we grow more ignorant about government shenanigans because fewer of us are paying attention, or getting real news. But I always excluded sports media from this mix, which in some ways has represented a very honest model of media taking those in charge to task. Imagine if the President had to face a room full of reporters asking key strategic questions about that day’s administrative decisions without any concern for being “fair” or “balanced”? Or if we as citizens spent our time on the radio like sports talk listeners do, arguing about real issues that really mattered, instead of “value” issues about pastors or flag pins or gay marriage diversions that represent the appearance of debate.

Sports coverage and sports radio has always seemed to be the most democratic discussions on the commercial dial, because it transcends political ideology for the bottom line: winning. So while I rail about “smashing the TV” on this blog the truth is I’ve kept mine running because I watch baseball, my last excuse for keeping the thing.

I’m starting to rethink that now. And so that noise you next hear might be my foot aimed squarely at the center of my Sony.

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June 2, 2008   |  Filed Under Living Now   |    Permalink


1 elise { 06.03.08 at 2:53 pm }

As another obsessively passionate Met fan (why is it that Met fans are the way we are?), I totally hear you. I admit I used to listen to the FAN excessively. Fortunately this was before the advent of blogging, so there were limits to where I could go for my Met fixes. And fixes they were. Finally I realized the surrounding media circus was actually causing me personal stress, even when the team was winning. I had to cut it all off cold turkey for a while. Now I watch games, but not religiously like I used to (back when I secretly believed that they would lose if I wasn’t watching ;) .

But I agree. The media circus is WAY over the top. The advertising and commodification are WAY over the top. You can barely see the game past all the billboards and corporate sponsorships. It batters the senses.

And all the money involved. All over a GAME that people play for fun. If this kind of money were devoted to things that really matter in the world, like feeding people, clothing them and giving them good medical care. And if this kind of watchdog scrutiny and ceaseless attention were directed toward our corrupt leaders and their corporate partners . . . wow — what a different world this would be.

2 Eric { 06.03.08 at 7:07 pm }

So THAT’S why they used to lose all those games. And I thought it was because I wasn’t keeping up with my Double Whammies like my grandfather taught me. :>

I hear you though, in all seriousness. Thanks for the comment!

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