They didn't come to watch Wandy Rodriguez, curious to see what Mike Hampton would pitch like if he were born closer to the equator. They didn't come to watch Morgan Ensberg take aim at a short porch, or just to watch a baseball game. They came for the sideshow; to see the bearded lady make out with skunk boy. Fed on the bluster of talk radio and ESPN, they came to boo, harumph, and moralize. There was a slow-motion replay that captured it all. Bonds gets plunked, and thousands of them jumped to their feet instantly. Through the magic of technology, allow me to demonstrate what was in the heart of those Houston fans at that moment:
Oh, the validation of watching Bonds getting drilled by a journeyman mook! Dennis Springer, or something. I don't know, he's been with the team for a couple of years, but, honey, you should have seen it! He got hit with a baseball! Right in the back! Ha! That will teach him to mess with THE GAME OF BASEBALL, which I LOVE DEARLY, and have LOVED SINCE THE DAYS OUT IN THE MEADOW PLAYING CATCH WITH MY GRAMPAPA, before BONDS RUINED THE SPORT AND AMERICA BY CHEATING! Well, him and hundreds of other players of varying skill levels, probably including more than a few who played for the Astros. But right in the back! It would have been great if it nailed him in THE HEAD!
And this isn't to specifically indict the fans of Houston. Thousands of them did come to watch a game and were slouched in their seats, annoyed that the Astros were being blown out and not caring at all about Bonds. And it isn't as if Giants fans are immune. Earlier this season, Jeff Kent was hit in the head by a pitch, and that pleased a few ghouls, including some on this site. Although I do take pleasure in occasionally imagining Kent catching his moustache in a bicycle chain, there's no joy to be taken from watching him actually writhe on the ground. Come on, now.
So if I'm not condemning the partisans of a specific sports team, I must be making some bold statement about the devolution of America, right? What with the reality shows, and the rap music, and no one stopping for pedestrians, and all that? Nope, that'd be a bunch of bland generalizing too. There are plenty of people in every country who would jump to their feet in rapture if someone were injured in a soccer match, hockey game, or caber toss. The idiot wand didn't just stop after waving over a single country. Stereotypes based on a country are just as ridiculous as stereotypes based on team loyalty.
No, it made me hate people. It massaged every misanthropic bone in my body. It made me want to move to a cabin in North Dakota, and spend the rest of my years with 84 feral cats and a book of crossword puzzles. It was that one slow-motion image of people jumping to their feet that did it. Scores of wretched gene dumps acting as living proof that Darwin forgot to carry the two somewhere. Ick. Just ick.
Also, there was a baseball game. The Giants won, and the bats came alive again. But, did you see? Right in the back!