Wednesday, March 30, 2005

It's all over, Baby Bird

So long, farewell, amen: a post two days in the making, much longer in the offing

Yesterday, I was talking to a good buddy of mine. We go way back to my first day at GW, and we have the kind of friendship that, when we converse on an increasingly infrequent basis, we feel remorse for not keeping closer tabs. "I'm busy" is not an excuse, but a reason, after all. Well, in medias res, I discovered that he's very closely connected---in a sort of second-hand way, but still very closely connected---to a situation that is a major story in our nation's current events. I learned this after he asked me for my take on it, after I explained that I hadn't really been following it in tremendous detail, and after I began referring to it in an objectively removed manner.

After all of this, I learned that he had a very passionate opinion on the subject. The opinion is incredibly well-informed---granted, well-informed as to certain factual aspects from certain points of view; then again, maybe those points of view are correct. He argued his position very well, very passionately, and---though I took exception with some of his more legal and procedural claims generally---I could tell that, even if I were informed as to the fact, a) I probably would not prevail in a debate on the subject, and b) more importantly, I would never shake him of his belief, even if that were my intent.

So, after ensuring that I wasn't antagonizing him, I respected his opinions and dedication to the issue, and we moved on to talking about the opposite gender. Finer points in life, I guess.

Well, the situation had, in one of those off-hand ways, a profound effect on me. Combine it with
the big baseball news from yesterday (provincially speaking, of course), and I realized that now is the time to confirm a notion that had festered for awhile. Now is the time to act.

I've decided to cease any semblance of fandom for, or devotion to, the Baltimore Orioles---indefinitely, subject to one future condition.* I just can't do it anymore.

The Nats are my only rooting concern now. (But more on them later.)

Some people---including that very friend from yesterday's conversation---view me as a guy who consciously attempts to balance the objective and subjective elements in my life. Maybe that's true; then again, maybe we choose our battles. I have another friend who is completely enamored of the Matrix stuff---the quasi-philosophical language, the deeper notions alluded to---and, while he acknowledges that the Waadklfdkfjski Bros. have not reached the very summit of rational discourse via the film medium, argues passionately that their crunk is deep stuff. My reaction is usually paraphrased as "Meh; I see what you're saying; I see lots of merit in what the detractors say, also." Is that me being objective? Or is it merely a reflection that I don't care about the issue?

Well, regardless, as I have stated on many occasions I intended to greet the Washington Nationals with attention, interest, and devotion---roughly the same ways I regarded the Orioles. The Nationals would be more immediate to me, and I viewed their existence as a justified novelty: I long held that DC darned well deserved a team, and seeing as they would be brand-spanking new (except for the part about coming from Montreal), I wanted to explore them, get to know them, learn to admire them.

But would I love them? I couldn't answer that.

Did I love the Orioles? No, I never did, in retrospect. By definition (see below), I did not. I rooted for them, and there have been O's teams that I did thoroughly, completely enjoy. The best example would be the '89 team. Man, was that a fun team to follow, especially for a naive, unsophisticated thirteen year-old who memorized every fact, watched every play he could, followed them even when he spent six weeks visiting relatives in California.
But did I throw my unending loyalty to them, like my first friend cited above did to his cause? In the end, no.

Consequently, I kept answering questions like, "What happens when the Nats and O's play against each other?" with answers like, "I don't know; hasn't happened yet. I'm sure I'll rationalize something in my mind."

That's how I initially viewed the media stuff, too, you know. I thought Angelos was overreaching from the beginning---I'm not sure how anyone in good faith claim he wasn't---but I figured, I hoped, that things would evolve into an arrangement that was mutually beneficial and, more importantly, just.

It didn't happen that way. There's a difference between zealously advocating your position and willfully scattering feces all over the Persian rug. Angelos---clearly, objectively, definitely, and defiantly---has done the latter, and then some. He's also puked vile on that poor rug. Thing looks like it's been digested by the almighty Sarlaac.

Angelos has righteously earned my enmity. And that's not easy to do. First, I'm a pretty laid-back guy (this blog's more caustic posts notwithstanding). Second---and I don't want to overdo this angle, but it's out there---Angelos shares the same ethnicity as me, and it's not easy for a Greek to speak ill of another Greek in a public forum. (Behind one's back, yes, but . . . ) For pete's sake (no pun intended), in '88 we had life-long Republicans backing Dukakis---DUKAKIS!!!---just based on common ethnicity, cultural pride, etc. Maybe not the hard-core Republicans and conservatives, but lots and lots of others. I'm not criticizing it per se, but the instinct is there. My ancient boys instilled a lot of pride in us genetically; even I can't shake free of it completely.

So, there I was, faced with what I considered three eventualities:

1) "You're mad at Angelos now, and rightly so, but that'll wear away in time."

2) "Sure, you're mad at Angelos now, but there are a lot of players you like---Gibbons, Mora, Tejada, Ryan, Roberts. Heck, you've defended Matt Riley since '99. Come on now!"

3) "Sure, you're mad now, but this too will pass. A deal will be reached; your cooler side will prevail, and you're going to realize that you've invested a lot emotional energy rooting for them and intellectual energy learning about them. You're just being rash."

As it turns out, all three statements have merit. Standing alone, they would persuade me.

But another factor popped into my conscience. It didn't act to mitigate the situation. It didn't even counter-balance it. Instead, it blew the whole discussion to smithereens.

I love the Washington Nationals.

When there are two sides to a dispute and one side is clearly wrong, you can throw your support to the aggrieved party in the name of justice. Eventually, the aggitating party will relent or ameloriate, or the situation will otherwise resolve itself. Thereafter, the immediacy of the disagreement becomes less apparent, the issues become more cloudy or less important in context, and finally, you reflect and say, "Now, was that such a big deal?" I think most people, concsciously or unconsciously, experience this process.

The one wrinkle---and it's a significant one---is when you are intensely loyal to the aggrieved party, when you "love" it in one of the classical senses. When, in essence, loyalty will memorialize the dispute when logic looses its moorings.

But for my love for the Nationals, I could carry on with the Orioles as envisioned above. But for . . .

. . . my love for the Nationals. It has to be this way. I had an epiphany yesterday: I truly care. I care, deeply care: who hits lead-off, who's in center, whether Nick Johnson gets a real shot, how that big wing beloning to ¡LIVAN! performs, even when Vinny Castilla---of all people---will be one hundred percent.

Chris put it much better than I could---and in hundreds or thousands of fewer words, at that: EUREKA!

The Angelosians are pouncing on my boys, and I can't take that. And I won't forget it.

And so . . . that's that. I apologize to all the O's players I still admire; I can't root for your team anymore. I apologize to all of the great O's fans I've met over the years; I can't root with you anymore. For your sake, I won't hold any ill will; for instance, I'm not ordering any hits on the Warehouse, and I have no desire to see the O's go 25-137 or something like that. But, from now on, an AL East game is just . . . and AL East game. Except for when the O's play the Yankees; in that case, the game can be called on account of a Jeffrey Maier-Tony Tarrasco slow-dance in the right field corner, for all I care.

Well, that's it, guys. Via con dios.

* I'm not one to foreclose possibilities forever, though; should Angelos (and that includes his family and minions) ever sell out, I will reconsider my decision at that point---with the proviso that unless Angelos, heaven forfend, buys in to the Nationals, the Nationals will always be the clear and unmistakeable No. 1 in my heart, mind, soul, and pocketbook.

Very nice post. Though what's wrong with Dukakis?

I'm pretty attached to the Orioles, but this whole deal is seriously testing my love.

For me, it will probably come down to which team is run more intelligently and creatively over the long haul. And while Bowden hasn't done the Nats any favors in that department, the Os aren't really taking advantage.

In fact, the Nats are pretty far ahead this week -- demoting Endy Chavez and giving playing time to Church/Sledge vs. trading Matt Riley for Ramon Nivar. RAMON NIVAR! Unbelievable.
trading Matt Riley for Ramon Nivar. RAMON NIVAR!

Whoa whoa who. This just went down like an hour ago, huh? Whoa. Ugh.

Anyway, thanks for the compliment, and if your conscience leads you to stay true to the O's, power power to you---you're a better man (or woman) than I.

On Dukakis . . . nothing wrong particularly. It's just that hindsight brands losers badly, and when you lose really badly, then . . .
watching the O's in this is like being Hamlet watching Claudius run Denmark into the ground... much better to be in the National's Kingdom...

and it's "vaya con dios"...
Ah, I knew that didn't look right. Thanks.
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