Periodically, I’m reminded that what I say on the internet is seen by other people. You’d think that as a writer, I would be used to that. But I guess I kind of assume no one reads these. However, a friend sent me a message from a family member of a player that I had written about. It reminded me that, oh right, the internet is a public place that anyone can see. And sometimes people do!
Anyway, it was a reminder that when we talk about baseball players, or anyone really, it wouldn’t kill us to treat them like human beings first, instead of talking about them like they’re just cogs in a machine, or just a name on your fantasy roster. Because players and (more often) their family read our site, and our comments. Just like they see your tweets even when you don’t tag the players in them.
And just as with all things in life, a little kindness and an acknowledgment of the players’ humanity can mean a lot, especially to the family of a player that might be struggling. We have this conversation periodically in the comments. So often I see people say “well he should just play better” like it’s just so easy to do. Like athletes can just switch a flip and suddenly be excellent at their sport 100% of the time. That’s not how it works.
It’s not like a test you can study for. Their performance is dependent upon their body’s willingness to cooperate and do what they want it to do. And yet I regularly see people slander players after a bad game as if they had any say in the matter. You can practice all you want but if your fastball isn’t there, it isn’t there. If your timing is off, you can’t magically wish it back. No amount of grit and mental fortitude is going to change physical limitations. And we should probably not assign personal blame to players who have a bad game/season like it’s their own fault they played poorly. As if they wouldn’t play better if they had control over it. This attitude is, quite frankly, the most disgusting and off-putting aspect of sports fandom and I think we can all aspire to do better.