(I wrote this post in early May of 2007 and I wanted to keep it here for posterity. Especially with Kyle being DFA’d today.)
As I mentioned, I met Kyle Snyder Saturday night. Normally being shy in situations like that, I wasn’t going to approach him. He looked like he was trying to blend into the wall and there were screeching groupies trying to make their move.and I were ready to leave when I decided to just approach him. He had pitched in Yankee Stadium that day (in the only loss the Sox have to the Yankees thus far), giving up one hit (to Derek Jeter) and a strike out (Johnny Damon swinging) in the 8th inning and I wanted to tell him what a good job he did.
I bring this up for a couple of reasons. One, because it was a really nice moment. I got to tell Kyle what a good job he did and how we enjoy watching him pitch (He was very sweet and soft-spoken. Thanking me multiple times before we shook hands -our left hands- and Kelly and I left). Also, reading Will Leitch’s poignant on got me thinking about it as did CHB’s (yet again) for being accepting of the Randy Moss trade.
Being a fan (Especially a Red Sox fan) comes with some baggage. Other fans get you, writers mock you and people not interested in sports just don’t understand. But the only people whose opinion matters to most fans are the players.
Leitch writes about his parents and how they had a ‘moment’ with Hancock that seemingly affected him. He remembered their kindness and acknowledged it. Saturday night, Kelly noted that Kyle Snyder looked ‘relieved’ to have me approach him and talk about baseball as opposed to what the groupies (who didn’t even know who he was and were mapping out game plans on how to approach him, depending on whether or not he had a ring on his left finger. Oh how I wish told them, when they asked me, that his name was Bronson Arroyo instead of telling them the truth. Sorry for that, Kyle.) were doing.
Fans have an ego. We tend to think that the players play for us and when they do well, it’s in our name. To be fair, the 2004 team reinforced this belief with what they said, so our egos can’t be blamed for that solely. I don’t know what made me talk to Kyle or why I said the specific things I said instead of something geeky like “you’re so great!” or the opening line one of the groupies used (“you’re my friend’s favorite player!”), but his reaction to me made me very happy that I did. Maybe he was feeling down because the team lost? Maybe he’s very shy (he certainly seemed to be) and wanted to be anywhere but in a loud, crowded bar, making a public appearance the night after a disappointing loss, being accosted by drunken chicks pretending to know who he is? Maybe one person coming over and telling him he had no reason to hang his head; that he did a good job, maybe that actually mattered to him?
Even if it didn’t, was it so difficult to say? Did it pain me to take a moment out of my evening to thank him for entertaining me? Bringing in ego again, for me it was pretty much the highlight of the day (save the Yankees fan who yelled “1918” in the subway, prompting his Yankee fan friend to yell, “Dude, WHAT did you say??”). I felt like I made a difference in Kyle’s evening. Even if I didn’t, I felt like I did.
If something, God forbid, happened to Kyle Saturday night, it would have happened with him knowing that at least one stranger cared enough to let him know how well he did. What’s wrong with that?
Dan Shaughnessy would have us not care about the players. He tells us that we’re too passionate about the game (“It’s only baseball” is one of his popular refrains when fans dare write him to criticize him), but now he tells us that if we act rationally (giving Randy Moss a chance given the Patriots and their success with the likes of Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon) that we’re just blind followers. Give it up, Dan. We know that you’ll use any excuse to bash us and we don’t care.
As fans, what we care about is the team…and we think they care about us. It makes the game that much more fun to watch.
And if it isn’t true? If the players act a part just to keep the fandom going? So what? We give out love and support and try to cultivate good feelings – and there’s never anything wrong with that.