I'm still irritated about an offhand comment by the fan sitting in front of us at the game Tuesday night. There are a dozen reasons why this shouldn't bother me. I don't know the guy and he doesn't know me, for one thing. Also, his remark was directed at Eric as much as me, and I'm sure Eric isn't obsessing over it.
And this is not about sports. It's not even about who's right (we are, for the record) and who's wrong (he is, not that it matters). It's about courtesy and respect. It's about not being so blindly judgmental that you reflexively demean someone's honestly held opinion. It's about how so many people can live on such a small planet only by acknowledging the worth of every individual.
But seriously ...
One of the Giants players made a mistake. It was a "good" mistake, because it came from trying too hard but thinking too little. Eric and I turned to each other and made almost the same comment at exactly the same time.
Inside stuff you probably don't care about: Okay, it was Jeff Kent, trying to stretch a double into a triple with two outs. He was thrown out easily at third, as we knew he would be. We both shouted at him to stop at second (as if he could hear us from 300 feet away in a packed ballpark). And we both said that it was a bad play not just because he was thrown out by a wide margin, but also because he made the third out at third base. It's a baseball axiom that you don't make the first or third out at third base. There are valid reasons for this to be part of the "book" on how to play the game.
We weren't criticizing the player's aggressiveness, even though it backfired. We did say that he had no chance to make the play, but the mistake was compounded because "you don't make the third out at third base."
So this guy in front of us, who knows so damn much about the game, turns halfway around and says, "That's from listening to announcers, not ballplayers."
Well, wait a minute, mister. First off, Eric has been playing ball his whole life and knows that a play like that doesn't help the team. Not only is it a player who's talking, it's one who knows why this was a bad play.
Baseball geek explanation: You don't make the third out at third base because it takes a base hit to score a run from third with two outs, and the runner would probably score on that same hit even if he'd stayed at second. Therefore, the risk of making the third out at third, when you would have been in scoring position at second, isn't worth the extra ninety feet. And you don't make the first out at third because your team can give up an out on a sacrifice to advance you from second to third, at much less risk than taking the extra base.
The above is merely an attempt to prove that I know what I'm talking about. Thank you for your indulgence.
One reason for this fellow to make that kind of a comment is that he doesn't know the game as well as he thinks he does, but wants to give the impression that he knows it better than we do. You meet people like this all the time, of course. They know so much that anything you say can be dismissed. You couldn't possibly understand things the way they do, because you don't have the advantage of their superior knowledge and experience.
But even if he sincerely believed that we were wrong in our analysis of the play, he didn't need to foul the air by implying that we knew so little that we had to get our opinions from second-hand sources. Or that we couldn't think well enough for ourselves to decide whether or not to believe something we might have heard.
I guess what irritates me the most is that he thought he knew something about us, and instead of finding out if we had a basis for our belief, he sneered in the most derogatory manner. He could have turned and asked, "Do you really believe that? Why?" He could even have told us why he thought we were wrong. He didn't want to argue his position against ours, though. A dialogue might have revealed the weakness in his logic and the gaps in his knowledge. It was so much easier for him to assume the superior attitude.
He must be difficult to live with. How could anyone else in the house voice an opinion, knowing that it wouldn't be taken seriously unless it agreed with his? "Your opinion is just something you heard somewhere. You couldn't possible have thought about it, because you don't agree with me. I'd have more respect for you if you bowed down to my advanced intellect. I never listen to anyone else. That's how I know I must be right, because I don't accept conventional wisdom. If everyone believes in something, it must be flawed. Nothing could be true unless I thought of it."
Who the hell does this guy think he is? He has some nerve. Why, I oughta ...
I have no problem with anyone who questions accepted truths. I grew up in the sixties, so that's practically my religion. The problem is when someone dismisses another person's viewpoint for an invalid reason, and without engaging in any discussion. It's not "I'm right, you're wrong," but "I'm right, you're an idiot." Where does that get us, but to chaos and the anarchy?