We are in this together

I have the bad habit of actually thinking that I can win arguments on the internet. The good news is, it's a trait I share with most people who use the internet regularly. Okay - maybe that's not really good news, per se.

I can't help but notice on this site that individuals have demonstrated the same bad habit. Criticising and attacking the few folks who are willing to invest time and effort into putting their views out there. It seems kind of silly to me. Maybe you have your reasons for taking a GROTA blogger to task. Maybe one of those reasons stems from a perceived abundance of negativity. Maybe you find such negativity so annoying that it gets a rise out of you, and before you know it you find yourself in the habit of 13-year-olds everywhere: trolling a blog.

Okay - I'm being a bit incendiary. I don't mean to be. I fully admit to sharing that habit, though. I am a shill for my own point of view, and I will defend it tirelessly until casual readers are chased away by the circular redundency of it all. I don't have a good reason for this behavior. I have the habit of actually thinking that I can win arguments on the internet.

In any case, before you tirelessly shill for your own point of view, consider this: anybody who follows, thinks, argues, or even talks Cubs baseball in seasons as dire as these past few is, categorically, someone who did not choose to be here. Nobody chooses to root for a baseball team as heartbreaking as ours has been. In other words, folks, the admission has been paid at the door, and once you get in you might as well go wild.

The problem goes both ways. We are human beings. We are folks of limited energy, upon whose emotional investments sometimes must be collected (regularly at a loss). It's like being in a bad relationship -- bad things don't even have to happen for people to be on edge. We hear our partner say "everything is terrific," and we want to scream how can you say that when you rip my heart out on a daily basis?!?! Or we hear our partner say "everything is terrible," and we want to bellow how can you claim that when I try so hard to make this work!?! There are no winners. It's just like following the Cubs.

You have different types of fans, with different perspectives, different expectations, and even different hopes. Some fans are casual. They are, perhaps, more likely to cheer for a 90-loss team, and to fully believe that said team will pull a victory from thin air like magic, even after the 2nd out of the 9th inning during a 10-run deficit. Theoretically, that kind of fan is fine. He's paid his admission at the door. The price was interest, and a pursuit of escape from daily trappings to focus on something that, ultimately, won't matter the second that last out is made.

Then you have fans who are more... invested. Kind of like Rob. Fans who have spent thousands of dollars going to games, not to mention accumulating a collection of memoribilia that would put the greatest Cubs museum to shame. (Seriously, you should see Rob's basement. It's like Cub fan heaven down there.) More important (and problematic), these guys have also invested an amazing amount of emotion. Hope, despair, surging belief, passion, love, even more despair. When things aren't going well, that fan can certainly take on the appearance of bitterness. Hell, even when things are going well, that fan is there to remind you that the Cubs squander leads, that they blow wins, that they break hearts. He's not saying it to piss in your cheerios. He's not trying to kill your buzz. He's saying it because he has been there. He paid his admission at the door, and his price was heartbreak.

Here's the problem - these two types of fans tend to hate each other. The Casual Fan hates the Invested Fan, because CF is just there to spend a few hours with friends or family, to cheer loudly, to boo soundly, and to go home slightly sunburned and decisively satisfied. He can't do that if IF is there telling him that the team sucks and, if CF believes victory is possible, then he clearly hasn't been paying attention to 104 years of history. And the Invested Fan hates the Casual Fan because CF just doesn't get how much this hurts, how frustrating it is, how ignorant he sounds in w00ting for his Cubbies to somehow pull off a victory in the face of reality.

But, really, teams like the Cubs need both kinds of fans. Invested Fan keeps them honest. The more Invested Fans there are, the harder the team has to try to build a competitive ballclub. But there will never, ever be enough Invested Fans to fill the ballpark stands day in and day out for 81 games a year. That's where Casual Fan comes in - the team needs his presence, his money, and yes, his glowing optimism because no player produces easily when there are tens of thousands of booing douchebags in the stands.

Regardless - I wish we'd stop fighting with each other. We are in this together. We all want the Cubs to win the World Series. Some of us are just more -- or less -- patient while they try. None of us are wrong for having our expectations, whatever they are. We have all paid the price of admission, even if the actual cost was different for each and every one of us.

As for me. Well, I've been Invested Fan. You really can't have a blog without it, since we're not exactly Scrooge McDucking into our moneybins due to the hundreds of thousands of words that we've pounded out over the years. But these days I'm more like Casual Fan. (Thus the reason you don't see me post too often.) I don't watch many games. I don't sweat the losses. My passions have changed.

Either way, I don't see the point of the hating. I say it again: we are in this together and the Cubs needs us both. Or I could be wrong. But I doubt it. And even if you thought I was, I have the bad habit of actually thinking that I can win arguments on the internet. But so do you, or you wouldn't be so vehemently disagreeing with me. Instead of arguing with each other, perhaps we should instead be focusing our energy on something important -- like trolling a Cardinals or White Sox blog and driving their fans into a meth frenzy. Wouldn't that be a better use of our time, rather than arguing about the Cubs, a team whom we both wish to see win a World Series?

Filed under: Bloggers, Cubs, GROTA Manifesto

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