Monday, January 14, 2008

What Do You Want In Your Athletes (You Know, Besides Steroids, HGH, And All That Good Stuff)?

I aim this latest philosophical question to you Met fans out there who also happen to be fans of the New York Football Giants ... the same New York Football Giants that took the Dallas Cowboys by the woodshed on Sunday. I aim this specifically at you because I think the answer Met fans who aren't necessarily Giants fans would be fairly obvious. But anybody that wants to delve into this for themselves is welcome to do so.

The Giants playoff victory over the Cowboys, combined with ... and I'm quoting one of my Cowboy fan friends here: "that human billboard Terrell Owens reduced to a sobbing loon" after the game, has basically given Giant fans carte-blanche to torture the Cowboys and their fans for life. Owens has basically taken the magic sword of Grayskull and handed it to He-Man for all eternity. Big Blue fans "have the power" now and for the foreseeable future, and are most likely giggling like schoolgirls watching T.O. on You Tube. And I'm not here to tell you that you shouldn't be giggling ... trust me.

But let me ask you the following hypothetical question (although if you want to make your answer public you're more than welcome to do so): What do you want out of your athletes?

Would you rather have this:



Or would you rather have this:
“I’m not devastated. I’m disappointed, but devastation is for much greater things in life. I’m disappointed, obviously, in the way I wanted to pitch. I can’t say there is much more I would have done differently.”
Of course you remember that as Tom Glavine's parting shot to New York before he packed his bag and left down before he could be ridden out on a bleepin' rail.


So do you want your athletes to genuinely care, but show their "sensitive man of the nineties" side in the process, opening themselves up to criticism by sports tabloid shows? Or do you want your athletes to be as robotic as the pitching machines they sometimes emulate when they give up seven runs in a third of an inning? For you guys that are taking glee out of Owens and his boo-hooing, juxtapose that alongside the feeling you felt when Glavine showed all of the emotion and fire of a wet noodle on the final day of September, 2007 ... during and after the biggest game of his Met career.

The answer, to me, is an easy one. But what you think, especially what you Met/Giant fans think, holds more weight.

***
"We need more Don Cardwells in the world" -Junie Michael
Unfortunately, we now have one less.

22 comments:

Zach said...

This is great... Glavine did not take enough heat for his comments.

Baseball is a 60 billion dollar enterprise, with millions of fans spending hundreds of hours a year watching and following and thinking about their favorite teams. To quibble over the word devastated, like Bill Clinton parsing the word "is," was completely uncalled for at that time. It was, as you say, a parting shot. An insult to injury. Because fans were clearly devastated - I know several who became depressed for weeks after that gut-wrenching collapse.

Glavine, without a doubt, pitched the worst game in the history of baseball, if you adjust for its importance. Especially when you factor in that the Mets were coming off of Maine's masterpiece, which gave them and their fans their old swagger back; and moreover, the Phillies, who had looked so tight the game before, started play 30 minutes after the Mets, and were thus able to play completely loose.

It is the duty of every Met fan in attendance when Glavine returns to Shea to get up and boo as loudly as possible.

zach said...

It should be added, though, that perhaps Glavine is right, and that it's stupid, foolish, and utterly irrational for baseball fans to invest so much emotional energy into a game, to the point where a loss--even a mind-blowingly embarrassing and ugly loss, a loss in which the opposing pitcher was hit with the bases loaded in the most critical spot--can be considered "devastating."

There are, we should not forget, millions of people starving to death even as we speak. So, I suggest that Glavine, being such a "classy" guy (as sportswriters never tire of saying) should make a point of showing fans just how irrational they are. He should donate 100 million dollars of the money he has made from their irrationality to charity.

TK said...

It was the total lack of emotion that caused the collapse in the first place. We can't pin it ALL on Glavine, he's just the poster-boy.

The polar opposite of...oh, say a certain bloody sock pitching performance.

The total inability to care when it's all on the line is what killed this team/ Delgado admits that they all "kind of knew they would be there" and so they stopped playing hard. How he thought that would carry them against hungrier teams in the playoffs is beyond me. I have to blame Willie for instilling ZERO passion in his players when it counted. Yes I was invested, yes I was emotional, yes I was there paying good, hard earned GD money to see Tom Glavine pitch the game of his life and carry us into the playoffs. So yeah a little emotion from him would have gone a long way, I'll boo his ass silly when he comes back to Shea. I hope he starts pitching like Shawn Estes. I hope we take batting practice off him. But I also reserve the right to boo the heck out of anyone else who thinks that winning can be pushed onto the backs of your teammates. Anyone who doesn't run out every ground ball, crash into the catcher at the plate, take a ball in the teeth if it means winning is going to get it. I earned that right after last year. If everyone thinks someone else is going to produce, then nobody does. It's a simple formula that applied to even the best teams on paper equals a big zero. Yankee teams of late have shown the same type of fizzle.

Let's hope they learned their lesson.

katherine said...

Thank you so much Metstradamus, for making that connection. I was having a hard time understanding why all the ridiculing of T.O. bothered me so much.

We were devastated by the Mets' loss, so naturally we want them to be, too. It was awful that some of them weren't. I can at least imagine Paul or David crying after a game, but not Glavine or Carlos D. Actually Paul would be more likely to trash the dugout, or take a swing at a reporter, in a steroid-fueled rage (now that's manly and acceptable!).

This is only my second season of watching football, so I don't know all the T.O. history - there must be some, people seem to really hate him - but give me somebody like that who at least CARES, any day!

By the way, I wonder if there is an antipathy between Jets and Giants fans the way there is for the Yankees/Mets? Do the teams have different images too - like the Yankees (rich, corporate fat-cat, loathsome smug perennial winners) and the Mets (lovable losers) do?

Demitri said...

I've followed the Eagles for the last 6-7 years - I know strange since I've been a Mets fan since birth. But its hard to live in Philly having no football allegiance and not get interested.

Of course, the Phillies and their fans pissed me off so much that I started rooting against the Eagle as some sort of bizarre retribution.

All I know is that the fans here are going to have a field day with the T.O. stuff. There's serious hatred down here. It should be entertaining- at least until someone makes Donovan McNabb cry.

Harold said...

I was actually one of the few people who felt some compassion for T.O. Dealing with the media everyday as they try to tear you down (after building you up) is surely an emotional stressing experience, even for someone who seems to relish it like Owens does. I can't say I didn't laugh a bit, but just because it seemed so unlike T.O. to bring himself to tears to defend his teammate. Good for him.

Glavine made a good point, too. It's a game. Would I prefer him to care more than he showed? Sure, but I also understand what he was talking about. One is devastated when a loved one dies, and as much as we love the Mets, and as much as we can say they died during those last few weeks, it is much different.

That said, I'm glad Glavine is gone. I appreciate what he did for the Mets, but he blew it down the stretch when we needed him most.

APV said...

Uh Metstra, seeing that your first choice involved something positive for my Giants (a playoff win over the Cowboys), and your second choice involved something bad for my Mets, it's a no-brainer. I'll take T.O. in tears any day. Wonder if those tears provided the salt flavor for his next bag of popcorn.

Metstradamus said...

apv,

Here's the question I'm getting at: Would you rather have had Tom Glavine cry on camera after that last game at the expense of maybe some ridicule? Would that have been better in hindsight than having Glavine react the way he reacted?

Mudville9 said...

I would have rather seen Glavine mad at himself at least. Kick something over, throw his jersey to the floor, some demonstration of anger at his own pitiful performance in probably his biggest game as a Met. I wouldn't want to see sadness or crying about it Metstra, but anger at himself would have appeased the fans instead of the cold, eh, its just another game attitude he shown.

XenoKJS said...

Falling into the Giants/Mets fan category that you describe. I cannot say I agree with your comparison of T.O. and Glavine.

While an arguement can be made that both are selfish assholes in their own ways, the pompous nature of T.O., mixed with the haunting memories of the Giants 2002 playoff collapse against San Fransico, Owens tenure on Philly (who I hate), and now Dallas (who I hate more) I cannot begin to describe the feelings of warmth and happiness that came to me, seeing him blubber like a baby.

Glavine to me, was always like the chick that you tried to date that had just gotten out of a long term relationship. You could enjoy eachothers company, and get some sweet ass now and then, but you always wondered that she was thinking about when she was lost in thought to herself.

Now you know, it was the Atlanta Braves.

The Mets used Glavne for what they wanted and he did the same in return. It was what it was, and I never had any expecations of him having great admiration for the Mets in the twilight of his carreer when he first signed with the team. Does this mean he gets off the hook for his performance and attitude after that game? Heck no, but he doesnt have the widespread animosity that T.O seems to attract due to his flamboyant ego.

To me, there is nothing like seeing an ego like this so abruptly humbled. Since the collapse, I certainly havent had much to root for this winter so I am enjoying the Giants ride, even if it ends next week or not!

Jeterboy said...

Surprised to see so much rational thought here. Much of the behavior at sports stadiums and on these blogsites are so personal and filled with extreme emotion (both negative and positive). I understand what Glavine is saying. To the fans its a passion, but to these guys its a business (also correlates to the use of perfomance enhancing drugs which leads to superior performance which leads to big contracts which leads to MONEY). Most did not grow up fans of their team...they just care about their next deal and how it will affect their family (just like all of us). Yes, its nice to see emotion such as TO's display on Sunday...but its not our place to demand how the athletes should feel or demand that they feel the way we do. As much as we idolize these figures...we don't KNOW THEM, or their situations, personal life...however we act like we do (probably because we watch a thousand soundbites on ESPN and read countless internet reports). We care about the laundry.....almost all of them don't.

Glavine deserves your boos Metsies....however he's where he wants to be with his friends and family in Atlanta. He doesn't care and he's laughing all the way to the bank and the Hall of Fame (as a Brave). The "Road to 300" show on SNY has officially been cancelled.

By the way, while I liked the TO emotion and the backing of his QB. Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia
have to be sitting back and scrating their heads after he hung them out to dry in his past places of employment.

katherine said...

But Jeterboy, since it is their JOB, not just a game, you'd think the players would care MORE about the loss than the fans, right? If things go badly for me at work, I feel awful about it.

But you're right about the fact that we don't really know the players. And not everybody is good at expressing their feelings in the moment - Glavine is kind of a taciturn New Englander, and maybe after the fateful post-game "not devastated" interview he went home and lay awake all night feeling anxious and terrible.

Harold said...

Katherine, I'd have to say that you are likely the exception to the rule regarding jobs and caring. Think about the guy/gal who is, for example, putting spindles in boxes for a living, or cooking burgers for you at any fast food restaurant. Do you think he/she cares if they package the wrong spindle or if the burger got mustard when it wasn't supposed to? Probably not. Most people are so alienated from their labor that they really don't care. I hate to say it, but I'm sure many of these guys are playing because they have a supreme talent that allows them to make loads of money, not because they have any great love of the game. Can we really fault an athlete for not caring about his/her job as much as the fans (the consumers, in this case) do?

katherine said...

wait a minute, harold - aren't these the same guys who are shrinking their testicles and growing their jaw bones from injecting steroids and HGH, popping stimulants, corking their bats, throwing spitters, lying to federal agents, ANYTHING, to get an edge? How many spindle factory workers would do that? And what is a spindle, anyway?

APV said...

Metstra,

Just saw your question. Guess I'm a little too giddy about the Giants and in 'whatever' mode about the Mets until we finally know what happens with Santana or spring training games start, whichever comes first.

I might have reacted with less venom if Glavine cried, but the truth is it doesn't matter. He stunk when the team needed him most, and it's hard to forgive that. Also, it took me 18 years to forgive Ron Darling for his performance in Game 7 of the 1988 NLCS, and that's only because he admitted he stunk during an SNY broadcast.

Harold said...

Yes, Katherine, many of these guys are using all sorts of substances to "get an edge," but logically thought out, that doesn't mean that they really care. It means they want a raise.

Chicks dig the long ball, and so do GMs.

katherine said...

so what harold is saying is that the guys will do anything for their own personal performance to get $$ but don't care about winning or losing because that doesn't affect their wallet. Which we all seem to agree, as fans we really hate that.

Which brings us back to, WHY are people making fun of T.O.?

zach said...

crying may be a bit much - but when a professional athlete takes the attitude "i'm getting paid, who cares about winnning or losing" - that's not "classy" - it's insulting - and fans *should* hate that.

i once had a high school teacher who, when the class was not paying attention, would say something like "i don't care if u guys are listening or not - i'm getting paid." even that was annoying. there are thoughts people should keep to themselves.

after the loss, if glavine wanted to say something like "let's keep this in perspective, the word 'devastating' is too strong" that would've been ok if he had also said afterwards somehting along the lines of "but i'm really, really disappointed, not only in the way this game turned out, but the way our team played over the past few weeks, and whatever fans are feeling, i'm feeling it ten times worse" ... we should learn something from japanese players: hideki matsui after breaking his wrist diving for a ball, apologized to the manager and the fans. that's class.

people take this stuff seriously. literally hundreds of millions of man- (and woman-) hours go into watching and thinking about baseball every year, and it's insulting for a guy like glavine after collecting 13 million dollars to play a game, to then say that the game is trivial. if you're making that kind of money doing something, it is almost by definition not trivial.

upstate met fan said...

T.O needs a trip to Mejico.

KingmanFan said...

Immediately after Game 7, I was inconsolable. I could barely speak to my friend on the way home. I was depressed for weeks. After this year's debacle I was more angry than depressed, but still, the sentiments ran deep and long. Ultimately, sports is a diversion for most of us, a respite from the humdrum, mediocre middle-class lives we sleepwalk through - work drudgery, unfulfilling relationships, unrewarding home life. A couple of days after Game 7, the same friend (who basically tagged along to the game for the hoopla and beer and fun) asked why I care so much, why I let the exploits of strangers whose success or failure really affect my life not at all, and that was my answer: because it makes me feel something, good or bad.

The majority of players, while disappointed when they lose, don't have the same depth of feeling because they don't need that same respite from mundanity. They're multimillionaires! "Oh, we lost? Bummer. I think I'll go on a month-long vacation to Hawaii." They do whatever they want, whenever they want. They can pursue whatever turns them on - hunting, fishing, golf, cars, women - with very little concern about the future, or anything else. Glavine was just a little too matter-of-fact about it. In a weird way, it's at least admirable that he din't gin up some phony sentiment.

Of course, I acknowledge there are exceptions. Exhibit A being the great Mike Piazza, who played through agonizing injuries in the '99 postseason and was so distraught that he drove home alone from Atlanta and went into hibernation for a while. It's guys like him who allow guys like me to not feel completely ridiculous rooting for a baseball team.

Anonymous said...

Metstra:
I will answer your question:
Seeing T.O. cry was funny and enjoyable. It made for great TV since the writers are still on strike. When Glavine said what he said, he resigned himself to knowing that he was not coming back. I am still angry at Glavine, but he was the cherry on top of the dog s**t that we call the Mets. He will always be remembered for what happened that Sunday afternoon against Florida, but it should not have come to that...The Mets lost the division on a Thursday when Pedro was dominant and the Mets only scored once against a Cardinal team playing out the string...
Since you asked that question, here is one for you since you root for the team that rhymes with "Mets": What if your team lost twice to the Pats in the regular season and then all of a sudden, the miracle happens...you beat them in Foxboro in a playoff game and you see Tom Brady crying...how would you feel then?

Metstradamus said...

Anonymous,

Good question. But it's moot. Because that's never happening in my lifetime:

A) The Jets will never beat the Pats in a playoff game while Brady is at the helm. And...

B) Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings, on his way to a fourth, and has bedded models. I doubt a loss to the Jets is going to make him cry.

Besides, the win is joy enough. In the slightest chance that Brady pulls a T.O. after an imaginary playoff loss the the Jets, I don't think there's any extra joy in seeing Tom Brady cry...and that's the honest truth. I'd laugh my butt off, but that's about it. (That should be the next feature when they make Madden '09: crying quarterbacks at podiums.)

If you had said Belichick, you would have had me at checkmate. And even you have to admit that Belichick has more of a history with the Jets than T.O. has with the Giants (although I'm sure Eagles fans enjoyed it.)