Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
OK, here it comes…my first rant on Jays Journal. Depending on your reading of my previous pieces, you may not see it is as my first rant. But, I’m about to unload. Let’s do this!
There have been some games where Blue Jays pitching has struggled this spring. That might be an understatement. You shouldn’t have to look too hard to find them. J.A. Happ has been frustrating, Ricky Romero showed signs of turning it around and then turned it back again. We were all excited to see Marcus Stroman dominate. That didn’t really live up to the hype. Over all, the Jays pitching has been frustrating. Although as of late they seem to have gotten over their case of ‘projectile dysfunction’ with Mark Buehrle and Todd Redmond finding the strike zone more effectively. So, that’s exciting.
Therein lies my issue. After an offseason of ups and downs of being linked to this deal and that deal, Blue Jays fans have been riding a long drawn out roller coaster. Finally, we thought it had stopped because the Blue Jays are going to settle (because the last free agent pitcher available found a new home) on the ‘in house’ options. We are subjected to poor performances that make you fear that what we are settling on is good enough.
Admittedly, my emotions get caught up in this team. That is what happens when you are a fan. I was up and down, hopeful, worried, etc. It doesn’t end. One day, I am super pumped about Melky Cabrera‘s comeback from a tumor filled 2013. The next day I am worried if the Blue Jays will ever be able to make up enough quality starts to even come close to competing. Every day is a new emotion.
Because of this emotional roller coaster, and the frustration that comes from it, I have had some interesting conversations with some people via Twitter and at home. My wife says, “It’s just a game. Calm down.” Occasionally when she is trying to bug me, she’ll throw out the “They’re gonna lose anyway”. These comments are nothing compared to the more heated ones via Twitter. I’ve been getting comments that echo my frustration. Some fans are so upset and angry, they are willing to write this team off. That is their choice. I do wonder, though, if they are really fans if they are willing to simply drop the team if they are not winning. Like I say to my Red Sox fan friends, “It is easy to be a fan when your team is winning.”
The other type of comments really get to me. People were suggesting that because I am getting upset over a meaningless spring training game, I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m criticized for getting caught up or putting too much stock in a game that means nothing. Here’s a shocker: I KNOW THAT! I am fully aware that the games have no ramification for the 2014 season. I know that it doesn’t impact the Blue Jays’ ability to win the division. I know that it does not indicate performance over the next 6 months. Come on! Because it is spring training, I am not allowed to ride the roller coaster?
Even worse are the people who suggest that fans get too emotional about the game. For example, Mike Wilner’s demeanor suggests that fans should not get upset. EVER. Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe Mike takes objectivity to a new level. Screw that! I’m a fan. It is not my job to simply relay the events of the day. My job is to follow my team. They are my team. I want them to do well. If they don’t, I’m upset. Spring training or not.
In an interesting piece published in 2011 by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. entitled “The Psychology of Sports Fans” we can gain some insight into what has been happening over the last few weeks, months, years, millennia. She describes two silly terms: “BIRGing” and “CORFing”. I know, they sound silly, but they do help explain the psychology behind such seemingly bipolar responses to your team’s performance. “BIRGing” stands for “Basking in Reflected Glory”. It refers to when your team is doing well and, because you are connected to them, you feel as though you’ve done well. Often, those who are “BIRGing” use the term “we” as though they somehow had something to do with the team. “CORFing” stands for “Cut Off Reflected Failure” and refers to the need to distance yourself from your team when they are doing poorly. Those who are “CORFing” use the term “they” to remove any connection to the team. Whitbourne says that the “BIRG”ing fans are more faithful fans, while those who are “CORFing” tend to be more fairweather. I say, at any given time, we all do both.
My issue is thusly: Whether you are “BIRGing” or “CORFing”, why do we need to question someone else’s desire to do either. If I am a faithful fan and I come across an ignorant bandwagon jumper, I automatically feel a superiority to them. I’ve been here for years. You just got here because it is trendy, or you want to start “BIRGing”. It’s ridiculous.
Riding a team’s roller coaster is exhausting enough. Why do we need to compete with each other over which seat is better? Don’t tell me I can’t get excited because Brett Lawrie seems to be swinging the bat well. Don’t tell me that I shouldn’t think this could mean good things for the upcoming season. And, don’t tell me that the ‘projectile dysfunction’ on display at times this spring isn’t bothersome. I’m allowed to be worried. Let me ride my roller coaster in peace. Let me continue my “BIRGing”!