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Monday, February 09, 2009

It's just a what, now?

The saying "It's just a game" means nothing to me. Saying that to me is like telling Donald Trump, "It's just money." It's telling Barbie, "It's just plastic." Like telling Dr. King "It was just a dream."

Games are a part of who I am. And that's not to say I'm ultra competitive. I am. But that's different. I love games even more than I love to win. I would rather play a game I knew I would lose than not play at all. I like to watch games, play games, make up games, turn things I don't like into games . . . even when they're not fun, games usually appeal to me more than the alternatives of life. If you see me, and I'm not playing a game . . . don't be so sure. I probably am.

So the whole, "It's just a game" thing just doesn't trigger feelings of dismissal and perspective. My internal reaction to that statement is typically, "It better be, or it's not worth the trouble."

I also tend to be a stickler for the rules, when it comes to games. In life . . . eh. But in games, the rules are essential. Because in games, the rules make the game fun. They make it fair. They make it work. If I see a rule being ignored or dismissed or misinterpreted, I will stop the game to straighten the situation out and bring all wrongdoers to funness. If I see a bad call by a ref, ump, or line judge, boils of outrage erupt on my skin. Thank goodness they're metaphorical boils, too, because they don't go away quickly.

You probably know where I'm going with this. Am I distraught about the A-Rod thing? Does the steroid era bother me? Is my sense of sporting and gaming justice shattered?

Not as much as you might think. 

I'm actually okay with changing the rules if it makes the game more fun. And if fun wins out over fair . . . I'm okay with that. And if blatant cheating winds up making the game even more fun . . . yipee! And if at some point somebody feels the need to blow the whistle and put an end to the cheating, that's cool, too. Let's agree there will be no cheating and then move on.

I make sense of the apparent contradictions with semantics. I find them helpful. If cheating is recognized as cheating, it's fine. If someone cheats and insists that they're within the rules, I would sooner chew their ear off then allow the behavior to continue. See the difference? Let me put it this way: if a wolf sneaks into my flock, steals one of my sheep, and yells "nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah," I'll enjoy a good laugh with the remaining livestock. But if a wolf sneaks in wearing a white fluffy toque and saying, "Baa, baa" over and over, well . . . I'll shoot the huffin', puffin' animal. 

You might understand if you ever played games with my dad. He never plays by the rules. Sometimes it's extremely annoying. (Like when he looks at the answer on the back of the Trivial Pursuit card and starts giving the opposing team hints like, "Adoooooooooolf . . . . Oh, give 'em the pie, they knew it.") Other times it's hilarious. (As it is when he lays down an enormous stack of random cards and yells, "Gin!" . . . when we're playing Uno and it's my turn. Or when, during Catch Phrase, he starts using charades gestures and rhymes to get you to guess "Iran-Contra scandal.") In one case, he's completely betraying the spirit and integrity of the game. In the second case, he's cheating with reckless abandon. See the difference?

From 1989 to 200?, baseball players cheated with reckless abandon. Sure, they weren't trying to be funny. And . . . maybe some of them will die because of it, we don't know that. Vaunted records crashed, as they were made to do. Do they mean nothing now? No! To me, the records are still a cherished part of the game . . . which, outside of the game, never meant anything to begin with. BUT WHO WOULD WANT TO BE OUTSIDE OF THE GAME, I ASK YOU!?!?!!? Watching the home run derby that was the 1990s . . . was a lot of fun. It's fun now. Heck, watching professional ball players squirm under oath and the glare of intimate interview lighting is pretty fun too. 

I follow the game of baseball because it's part of who I am. Not because I think it's . . . real. It's a game. It is meant to be enjoyed. I do that. If people cheated, cheat, will cheat, so be it, amen, hallelujah. Just make sure it's fun and save me a cheap seat.

8 comments:

  1. So, do you like ALL games? Head-games, reindeer games, etc. Ha! JK!

    Don't be annoyed with your Dad. Boy, if they could ALL be like him. I could never even IMAGINE sitting down with my Dad and playing a board game with him! :)

    A-Rod - is that the guy that makes around 252 mil? Heard something on the radio but when they start talking about sports, it becomes white-noise (then I heard the something about 252 mil). I personally don't think any ONE athlete should EVER get paid that much money. It sort of takes the fun out of the game, don't ya think?

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  2. I'm trying to imagine myself playing baseball for $252 million and not having fun . . . nah, can't do it. :)

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  3. Yeah, it would be fun to imagine what you would do with that kind of money!

    Are the players really worth that much? Do you think it affects the game of baseball when players are paid that much?

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  4. Nobody was ever worth that much money, no. A-Rod's contract is the gold standard for bad contracts, even though he was and is regarded as the best player in the game.

    The thing about that contract that was especially odd was that A-Rod's then agent, Scott Boras, somehow managed to persuade the Texas Rangers to bid against themselves. I believe their offer to A-Rod was a total of $100 million higher than the next closest team. They really swindled the Rangers out of that money.

    What made it even crazier was the fact that the Rangers traded A-Rod to the Yankees and continued to pay the bulk of his salary for four years. Then it got even stranger prior to last season.

    A-Rod had a player option on that year in his contract. He could either A) Elect to stay with the Yankees, forcing the Rangers to continue to pay his salary, or B) Try out free agency and see if he could make more money or just get the chance to play for somebody else, at which point the Rangers would be off the hook.

    A-Rod chose B, but it wasn't just that. Scott Boras announced that he was declining the option in the middle of the World Series, while a game was in progress. The move drew a ton of attention away from the Series and made A-Rod and Boras look like World-class jerks.

    THEN, A-Rod dumped his agent, negotiated a new contract with the Yankees for essentially the same annual salary (except that the Yanks, not the Rangers, would have to pay for it all), and returned to the Bronx in one of the strangest contractual melodramas since . . . the last time A-Rod signed a contract.

    And does it affect the game? Sure. It affects the economy of the game. And some guys seem to produce at much lower levels after they sign their monster deals . . . they just don't care anymore. Apparently the opposite was true for A-Rod and he started trying even harder. Other guys will have their best seasons right before they become free agents.

    But when the playoffs roll around, everybody just wants to win. That's when baseball gets even cooler . . . especially when the Cubs don't lose all their games.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know it would affect the economy of MY wallet. If I made that much money, I would be retiring ASAP!

    I think making that money would affect me in either of two ways:
    1) I probably wouldn't give a crap as you said or
    2) Making that much money would create so much expectation and stress that the mind games you would continually play with yourself would drive you to use the steroids, etc., so you could "earn that money".

    Also, I've heard comments from some people that refuse to even watch baseball anymore and purely for the reason that the players are overpaid.

    Any my final contemplation would be - why does the league allow this (or whoever governs the league)?

    ReplyDelete
  6. The league allows it because there's a players union, who has always balked at a salary cap.

    And that balances out against the fact that the owners are allowed to collude together, as they're exempt from anti-trust laws.

    So both sides deserve what they get, I guess.

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  7. I see. Weeell, I guess if the owners are willing to fork out that kind of money, so be it!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nobody was ever worth that much money, no. A-Rod's contract is the gold standard for bad contracts, even though he was and is regarded as the best player in the game.

    The thing about that contract that was especially odd was that A-Rod's then agent, Scott Boras, somehow managed to persuade the Texas Rangers to bid against themselves. I believe their offer to A-Rod was a total of $100 million higher than the next closest team. They really swindled the Rangers out of that money.

    What made it even crazier was the fact that the Rangers traded A-Rod to the Yankees and continued to pay the bulk of his salary for four years. Then it got even stranger prior to last season.

    A-Rod had a player option on that year in his contract. He could either A) Elect to stay with the Yankees, forcing the Rangers to continue to pay his salary, or B) Try out free agency and see if he could make more money or just get the chance to play for somebody else, at which point the Rangers would be off the hook.

    A-Rod chose B, but it wasn't just that. Scott Boras announced that he was declining the option in the middle of the World Series, while a game was in progress. The move drew a ton of attention away from the Series and made A-Rod and Boras look like World-class jerks.

    THEN, A-Rod dumped his agent, negotiated a new contract with the Yankees for essentially the same annual salary (except that the Yanks, not the Rangers, would have to pay for it all), and returned to the Bronx in one of the strangest contractual melodramas since . . . the last time A-Rod signed a contract.

    And does it affect the game? Sure. It affects the economy of the game. And some guys seem to produce at much lower levels after they sign their monster deals . . . they just don't care anymore. Apparently the opposite was true for A-Rod and he started trying even harder. Other guys will have their best seasons right before they become free agents.

    But when the playoffs roll around, everybody just wants to win. That's when baseball gets even cooler . . . especially when the Cubs don't lose all their games.

    ReplyDelete

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