The Sports Kid Column: The Cost of Love


Bobby Wagner, Managing Editor

It’s not easy being a baseball fan. I mean, on the scale of really hard things, I suppose being a baseball fan is easy. Who knows? Easiness is subjective.

Like, I agree that many things are harder than sitting in front of a TV and watching grown men with sticks swat helplessly at a small spherical object going really fast. For one, it’s probably harder to be a grown man helplessly swinging a stick at a small spherical object going fast. I’d bet the $5 in my wallet that differential calculus is harder than being a sports fan. Reading “Ulysses” by James Joyce? Definitely harder than hailing the peanut guy in the upper deck.

But I think we can all agree that it’s hard when you put 100 percent faith in a team that’s bound to go Titanic on you more often than not. We go to sports for some utopia-like escape, where we don’t have to think about the cubicle chair we glue ourselves to for 40 hours a week, or the fact that we stay up til 3 a.m. doing nothing and then sleep through class. We’re instead confronted with the dystopian world that is sports — full of literal and figurative loss, greed and immorality. Being in love with baseball and being in pain are directly proportional: the more we care, the more we pay when things aren’t perfect.

Sometimes when you care, you have to watch Ryan Howard’s corpse, who’s hitting .195 on the season, still mash home runs against your team. Sometimes when you care, you watch your pitchers’ throwing arms dissolve away like sugar in hot coffee. Sometimes when you care, Ender Inciarte travels through space and time to rob your best hitter of the three-run, walkoff home run that he deserved. These are things that happen to people who care.


When Yoenis Cespedes slapped that line drive the opposite way, I knew in my heart it was going out. I got chills. I stood up and put both hands straight up — I was Carlton Fisk-ing from the crack of the bat. And when Inciarte robbed it, I felt a thud in my chest. I stood there with my hands on my head for about a full minute without saying anything. Then I took to Twitter to find a virtual tissue to wipe up my tears. There was shock and there was awe. Perhaps most poignant, there was Sean Fennessy condemning love.

I’ve condemned love because of baseball before. When you’re so invested, it’s not hard to be cynical when it seems like the baseball gods have it out for your team. (The baseball gods, by the way, are a real thing. If you feel differently, I have some anecdotal proof for you, which is, you know, what most people use for real gods). But then you remember that 15 years to the day, Mike Piazza hit the home run that momentarily healed New York after 9/11 or that Vin Scully was flawless in his announcing of his final Dodgers-Giants game at home, and the thing that just brought you irrational sadness brings you irrational joy.

Love is sometimes beautiful. Love is sometimes fickle. Baseball is always both.

Disclaimer: This article was written on Thursday night, just moments before Asdrubal Cabrera renewed my faith in humanity with a three-run walkoff home run. Baseball.

Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected].