Monday, December 16, 2013

Anger Management

Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers,
for each rage leaves him less than he had been before -
it takes something from him.

As human beings go I am decidedly mediocre.  That is a lie.  Or at the very least a very, very positive spin on the facts as I know them.  I aspire to mediocrity and one day hope to come damn close to attaining it.  Truth be told, there is a better than even money chance that the next time my entering a room brightens it shall be when I am riding in closed-top vehicle being streered by a half-dozen.  It is what it is.  The movie version of our life that flickers in our mind's eye may very well be an epic hero's tale but the reality that unfolds day-to-day is most assuredly a work of non-fiction.   

Once upon a lifetime ago, I drank far more alcohol than any one person - or three provided that each of the three weighed less than 400 pounds - should.  In my defense, I did so only on an "occasional" basis.  Unfortunately, the alarm clock's ring, the sun's rise, the appearance on the calendar of a day of the week that ended in a "Y" all qualified as "occasions".  I was far from a pleasant drunk.  Alcohol does many things.  It is not however a cure for Irish Alzheimer's Disease ("You forget everything....except the Grudges").  Not in my experience at least.  Being my father's son, I carry a lot of anger with me day to day.  Being my father's son, consumption of my body weight in alcohol on a regular basis tended to remove all barriers to me dispensing it whenever and wherever I wanted. 

Time catches up with all of us should be fortunate enough to live at least a certain amount of time.  When it does, we sometimes come to learn that at least some of those things that inspired outrage in us when we were a younger man are just not worth tying ourself in knots.  Sometimes.  Not always.  Fortunately for me and for those who I now encounter in my day-to-day, my days as a functional drunk are in my rear-view mirror.  Never out of sight mind you but far enough in the distance that while the outline remains recognizable, the details are no longer sharp and clear.  That is most assuredly a good thing.

We are in the midst of what those of us who follow and appreciate baseball refer to as "Hot Stove Season".  There is no action on major league diamonds anywhere but there is a lot of baseball-related news afoot.  This is the time of year when players who are free agents hope to score new contracts, whether with the team that employed them last year or with a new team.  Annually, any number of players whose names are not familiar to me - and perhaps not to you either - move from Team "A" to Team "B" without stirring up the passions of the fan base of the team they are leaving or the team to which they are heading.  However, there are players - known in the trade as "big name" players - whose decisions evoke reactions among a team's supporters that fall along the spectrum from the sublime to the offensively stupid.  

Within the past ten days or so, anger bordering on inanity has been the order of the day with regard to certain of the Yankees off-season moves.  The signing of free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury - who played last for the Boston Red Sox and won two World Series rings as a member of the Sox - prompted outrage among some Sox fans, including those who went so far as to burn jerseys they had purchased bearing Ellsbury's name and number.  Nothing sends quite as much of a message to an athlete as you torching an article of clothing that you either purchased yourself or received as a present from someone.  You told him!  Message delivered!  Presuming the message you are attempting to send is "I am an imbecile who enjoys pissing away money".  Well done.  

There were certain Yankees fans who hopped upon the first available high horse to bash our baseball-rooting brethren to the North for such antics - and for the Twitter tirades that were directed to Ellsbury in which he was called a "traitor" and worse.  Ah hypocrisy, thou art a heartless bitch.  Not too long after the Yankees secured Ellsbury's services, they lost those of their best player.  Robinson Cano signed a contract with the Seattle Mariners that shall guarantee him $240 Million over the next ten seasons.  Reportedly, the Yankees' best offer to Cano was $175 Million for seven years.  Both sides did what they had every right to do - they negotiated with one another - and at day's end Cano made the determination that the best deal for him was Seattle's.  With the stroke of a pen, Robbie Cano "Dontcha Know" became Robbie Cano "A Yankee No Mo".  

A number of Yankees fans have taken to radio airwaves this week bashing Cano in the wake of not only his exit to the Pacific Northwest but his comments during his introductory press conference in Seattle that he felt "disrespected" by the Yankees during the negotiating process.  Having never seen $175 Million - and being pleasantly surprised when I open my wallet to find $175 in it - it is impossible for me to process how that figure equates to disrespect.  You know what?  I do not have to understand it.  Cano did not say that "anyone" would have felt disrespected but simply that he did.  Him.  Not you.  Not me.  Him. 

The reaction to Cano's comments - at least judging from the posted comments to on-line newspaper articles and the calls on sports radio - has been almost virulent.  People who likely openly mocked Red Sox fans for attacking Ellsbury have now picked up their own pitchforks and torches and started marching in the direction of Cano's castle.  While I hope that at some point, a light shall illuminate in the mind's eye of each pointing out the folly of being pissed off at an athlete for making a business decision, I know as I write this that there are some for whom the anger will never recede.  

Instead of being invested in things that matter - such as the quality of life in their neighborhood, the quality of their child's school, their relationship with their spouse for example - they will from this point forward invest a discrete, discernible amount of anger in and hatred towards Cano.  They shall not be alone.  All over Red Sox Nation there shall be fans for whom Ellsbury's picture shall forever hang in the Rogues Gallery.    

To those of you who walk through life sporting a hard-on for someone - such as a professional baseball player - who owes you nothing simply because that person made a decision that affects a team for which you cheer, which is something those of us in the trade might refer to as a "hobby" (never to be confused with your job irrespective of how many days a month you are permitted to wear the team's jersey to your workplace), I have a message for you:  GROW THE FUCK UP. 

If those of you who walk among the rest of us with your knuckles in a perpetual state of bloodiness due to repetitive contact with the ground want to find a place to direct that anger, then direct it here.  I cannot fake giving a rat's ass what it is those of you who are children trapped inside a fully-formed adult body masquerading as big boys believe you are entitled to receive.   Here is a newsflash Slick:  you have already received it.  Now shut up and move along.  

Huh.  Upon further review it appears that substantial reduction in alcohol consumption has not robbed me of all of my anger.  I cannot begin to explain just how relieved I am.  

And I suspect that somewhere the old man is smiling as well.   

-AK    

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