The Chicago Cubs are in the middle of a somewhat confusing manager search. Originally the Cubs were strongly linked to Joe Girardi, but that dissipated after a slow burn ending with Girardi signing back on with the Yankees for serious money. The Cubs were then linked to Brad Ausmus but just as quickly as he interviewed he was whisked away by Detroit in a series of events that vaguely echoed the Anibal Sanchez saga of last offseason.
And now here we are, mired in a confusing soup of candidates, non candidates, tweets, sources and endless speculation.
I'm firmly in the camp that does not read the comments on the internet. It's a depressing exercise in frustration that can color your world view in awful ways. Every so often I do venture deep into the comments section to get an idea of what people are thinking on a particular subject. It's risky for the reasons previously stated, but this one time it finally paid off:
"who cares anymore. ."
This comment was left on a Bleacher Nation Facebook thread about who the Cubs could hire next since Ausmus was hired away. It begs the question, does anyone care anymore?
I don't mean "does anyone care about the Cubs manager" specifically, although that's a good question we can address later on in this post, what I mean to ask is does anyone care about anything anymore? And if we do, should we?
A lot of you are hardcore sports fans who exist needing a daily dose of sports information thrown at you in some capacity. There is a small segment of you that needs to know obscure trivia for reasons that I cannot put into words. I'm one of those afflicted with the need to know things that are obscure. I suppose in a manner of speaking that makes me a hipster of sorts. I can identify with that moniker, Baseball Hipster suits me in a way that makes it tempting to put that on a business card and pass it out to strangers on the street.
That's something I would do, I would let people know how absolutely absurd my irrelevant knowledge of the game is. This is why I write. This is why I podcast. This is why I'm sitting here telling you about it. I have a basic need to communicate information, be it visually or with the written word. The reasons are convoluted but the basic desire is clear as hell.
Should I care? Should this game be the basic framework that holds my psyche in a delicate balance that teeters violently depending on the circumstance? Should I take comfort in a completely sadistic game that is utterly absurd and deeply unimportant when you get right down to it? Is there any redeeming quality in knowing what Mickey Mantle's career batting average was (.298) or knowing the Baseball Prospectus list of top ten Cubs prospects as of Opening Day 2013?
No there isn't any value in knowing those things for me. Sure, I suppose you could place monetary value on it in that it could theoretically land me a gig writing about baseball for a living (unlikely) but really there is no value in my knowledge bank. I know what a two seam fastball looks like, I know what good arm action is supposed to look like. I know swing mechanics and I know fielding motions. I know stats and I have a basic understanding of what baseball is supposed to look like.
And it's useless. All of it. But, even in that there is a lesson to be learned. I was 16 years old when I landed my first job at an Italian Deli. I did it so I could afford to buy nice things like an Xbox and take girls out on dates. I did it for the reasons that any 16 year old does thing. I did things to have fun and to get laid. That was the extent of my reasoning.
I worked pointless hours there with a group of people who were colorful in all the ways you could imagine. There was an old woman who manned the deli sometimes named Peggy. She carried the face of a woman who typically found protection from a difficult life at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. She was rugged and hard in the way old Chicagoans are typically portrayed. Once she came in reeking of Old Granddad and right before she was fired on the spot she turned to me and said:
Everything you do and everything you will ever care about is stupid.
There was a stillness to the words and they sat with me for years. They marinated in the residue disappointment and anger left over in the pit of my soul. Sometimes I would stay up at night and think about those words. I would look into the black darkness of life and wonder if I care about anything that is truly worthwhile.
It wasn't until much later in life that I realized that she was right. It's a quiet thing, to fall into the sadness that comes with realizing that your life has been completely meaningless. There was some soul searching and my favorite place to look was at the bottom of a bottle of Don Julio. I fell into a depression that was terrifyingly real as I struggled to find meaning in a world that seeks to strip you of it everyday.
Everyone has their stories, everyone has seen things that make them question the core of their being. If you haven't then I feel sorry for you in a way because to me, that's the essence of existence. I withdrew from the world and overtime I became an antisocial puzzle that no one dared to solve. I don't blame anyone for it, I was kind of (really) a prick and pricks aren't fun to deal with.
Time passed, my depression was a daily reality for 2 years and I lost myself in the sea of confusion and anger. I was walking through life a shadow of myself and I knew it.
I found salvation in many things (including the Productive Outs podcast) but there was one realization that finally pulled me out from inside my psyche.
The human existence is completely absurd.
My personal beliefs are confusing to grasp but the simple straw that binds them together is the absolutely illogical existence we all share. There's no reason for anything to happen. We've built up a society with rules and regulations so that we can organize ourselves. But to what end? Why do we exist in the manner that we do? Why do we care about the arts and why do we care about sports and so forth?
Because we are absurd creatures. The reason anyone cares about anything boils down to the vast emptiness that we feel inside of ourselves. We don't like it so we fill it with experiences and events and things. We escape the harsh truth that our existence is for nothing by caring about things and placing value on them so that we may pass them down and share them with future generations.
That's how we derive our worth, that's how we validate our existence. We strive to be relevant so that we may be remembered, and so that we can cover up the empty feeling in us all. Humans are out here for self pleasure, and to me that's perfectly fine.
I believe in the individual. I believe that the individual is the one who places value on anything. We exist in a world that does not valuate itself. Instead, we place the value on things so that we may have a purpose. This understanding can extend out to even the silliest things we derive self worth from: sports.
Sports is full of arguments and opinions. The landscape of sports talk is dotted with assholes, jerks, dicks, motherfuckers, fucking idiots, damn morons, and imbeciles. Again, these are labels we assign whenever we enter any sports discussion. We immediately identify the weakest among us and ostracize them. We push our ideas on other people and expect them to conform or die trying to argue the counterpoint.
But what is any of it for? What does it really matter if you're the smartest person on an internet forum? What does it really matter that you know more about how a baseball team works than another person? Who cares?
I know that I care about presenting myself in a professional and intelligent manner whenever I can. It's narcissistic in a funny way. I do enjoy flexing my intellectual muscles and I get embarrassed whenever I'm obviously wrong about something. These things matter to me so they matter in the larger picture.
I think there's a faulty logic in asking "does anyone care?" Obviously people do care and that's why there is content to begin with. If something exists chances are someone cares about it even if it manifests itself as hatred which is a different tangent that can be saved for another time.
With that thought in mind, let's go back to this thought: Does anyone care about who the Cubs manager is? Our frame of reference is constant here. People do care, people should not care, people caring, however, places value on the idea or the concept. Should people care as deeply as some do about who the next manager of the Cubs is? No, but they do because that's how we are. So, we will write about it and give you the content you desire along with the content we want to produce. It's how it works to a degree.
From a baseball perspective the manager matters very little in the short term. The Cubs will not be in a playoff race next year, pending a trade or a serious step forward from some mid level pitching prospects. 2015 is plausible but a few things have to break right for it to be a reality. So any tactical strengths or deficiencies the next manager may have will be obfuscated by the lack of competitive talent on the roster.
This team might be close, but it would be best to err on the side of caution when estimating their next playoff run.
In the long run, however, it will matter a great deal as I doubt this front office will want to have another manager search in 2 years. As much as any one baseball related thing can matter, this hire does matter.
And that's kind of where we exist right now. I've found that we all react differently to stimuli even if the poke is constant among us. Were the Cubs to hire Renteria (as is rumored) there would be a wave of different reactions coming from all corners of the fandom. They would connect at the epicenter of our shared internet existence and people would care to different levels.
All of it is allowed.