Monday, November 6, 2017

A Blazing Hot Take About Rivalries

Last night I found myself scrolling through tweets about Andrew Benintendi, looking for other people who shared my excitement about his status as a finalist for Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, most of the tweets were from rival fans, criticizing the people who dare celebrate his accomplishments even though he is not going to win the award. I left the search more angry than enthusiastic and I was really just disappointed.

One of my favorite results of my time away from baseball was my newfound ability to watch baseball games without letting them control my mood. The Mets or Red Sox could lose a series or two in a row and I would just be happy to be able to watch the game. Of course, I preferred when they won but losses were no longer the end of the world.

However, I lost that control during every Red Sox - Yankees series. Maybe it was due to the fact that at any given time I can live with up to 2.5 Yankees fans or the crossover of New York Rangers/Yankees fans on my Twitter timeline, but I felt trapped. I could not find a way to enjoy small moments in a Red Sox loss without constantly being reminded that it was a loss and how dare I enjoy a loss?

As someone who grew up just as the Mets were finally able to exact some revenge on the once-mighty Braves, I get why rivalries can be fun. My favorite Mets wins used to be the ones when they embarrassed Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and the Phillies. But as someone who was burnt out by caring too much about everything happening on a baseball field, I find them more stressful than fun. I cannot control if the team I root for wins on any given day. Why is it fun to yell at friends/strangers/anyone because years ago they decided to root for one team and you decided to root for another?

This year has been about me learning how I can be a baseball fan without burning out again. So far that means doing whatever I can to enjoy as many moments as possible no matter the opponent or outcome of a game. It means I want to be able to enjoy an Andrew Benintendi home run without a million Yankees fans screaming about how Aaron Judge hit one further. It means I want to be able to watch Benintendi make a diving catch or cut down a runner at home plate without someone bringing up the 450-foot home run Judge hit a week ago.

Two completely different players who are going to have vastly different careers are constantly mentioned in the same breath because they are on rival teams. If one of them were on the White Sox the comparisons would not happen.

Yes, I know Andrew Benintendi is not going to win Rookie of the Year.  No, I am not going to stop celebrating a damn good season because someone else had a flashier year.

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