Take Me To The Nosebleeds

Full disclosure: I’m a huge baseball fan. Specifically, I’m a huge Toronto Blue Jays fan. I grew up watching the team and caught their back-to-back World Series wins at the impressionable ages of 8 and 9. Maybe that’s why hockey never took hold of me the way baseball did. I’ve always followed the Jays and the sport very closely. That’s why I like to think of myself as a pretty reasonable fan. I know there are ups and downs in every season. I know a game doesn’t end when your team falls behind in the 5th inning. I know that with a 162 game season, eve the best players and teams waver and struggle. So I feel like I can fairly say that last night, sitting in great seats in the 100 level at SkyDome, I was surrounded by the worst fans our city has to offer.

SkyDome

I should start by saying that I have season tickets, but my seat is up in the 500s. The nosebleeds. That’s where I watch the majority of the 20+ games I go to every season. I got a seat in the 100s last night thanks to my girlfriend’s parents, and it was one of the best views I’ve ever had at a Jays game. But here’s the thing: I’m not sure any of the people sitting around us were enjoying themselves. It actually seemed like they were angry that they were even there.

Up in the 500s, people tend to enjoy themselves. Sure, there are people who are paying more attention to their beer than the game. But they cheer when the Jays score. They cheer when the Jays are in a jam and the pitcher’s trying to get out of it. They may have only paid $15 for their ticket, but they want the team to win. Or maybe they just don’t really care. Maybe they just want to have a good time and that’s why they cheer. I really don’t know.

What I do know is that the people sitting down in the 100s last night wanted to be angry. They wanted the Jays to lose. Because only then would all their negative thoughts about the team and this season be confirmed and they can go around declaring their “I told you so”s. Early in the game, I heard numerous people cursing R.A. Dickey, the Jays’ starting pitcher, as he struggled to not pitch a perfect game. Even more people were bemoaning the fact that Jose Reyes, newly returned from the disabled list, didn’t get a hit every at bat. One sterling gentleman in front of us went so far as to call Reyes a “stupid fucking Puerto Rican” when he went hitless in his first two at bats. Reyes is Dominican.

But it was more than the baseless, racially-fuelled criticism of Reyes (a four-time All Star) that bothered me. It was the fact that none of the fans, if you can call them that, sitting around us seemed to want to enjoy themselves. Last night’s game was a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Which to most fans, means it’s a really exciting game. But when the Jays took the lead, I’d hear things like “this won’t last long.” When the Jays were behind in the 4th inning, I heard someone say “I told you they were going to lose.” The 4th inning! We weren’t even halfway through the game and the team had already been written off by its alleged supporters.

As is often the case in sports, the lead kept changing between teams. The Jays were ahead and then they were behind. By the 8th inning, it was no longer just Reyes that was, to use that same gentleman’s words, “a piece of shit,” it was every Jays player that failed to hit a five-run home run in every at bat. With the team was down by a score of 9-7 at the end of the 8th, the game and season was widely being decreed to be over. Many of the people seated around us left the game disgusted yet exalted by confirmation of their eternally negative mind.

Then, in the bottom of the 9th, this happened:

The Jays won thanks to a walk off hit from their best player Josh Donaldson. But it was also thanks to a key hit from Jose Reyes. Now the meatheads loved him, at least until the last player had crossed the plate. Then I heard “the Jays didn’t deserve to win that one.” They couldn’t even enjoy a win.

The way I see it, if you feel that way about the Jays and you’ve got tickets in the 100s, you don’t deserve to sit there. Paying $60 for a ticket might make you feel entitled to complain and boo the team you’re supposed to be cheering, but it doesn’t make it right. It just makes you a jackass The Jays and their players are not immune to criticism but aren’t you there to enjoy the game? I know I am. I actually want the team to win. And I’d rather sit with people who feel the same way.

Enjoy your field level views with the clueless commentary. I’ll be in the 500s.

The Miracle Of Disappointment

We’re all going to die. But we don’t appreciate it. We don’t really know it. My Dad routinely tells me that you don’t fully appreciate the finiteness of life until your first parent dies. I would like to think I understand that, but I don’t since both my parents (and both step parents) are still alive. I think we’re all fully aware that we’re going to die, but we don’t appreciate it in the slightest. We will one day after we experience some traumatic, life-changing event. Only then will we truly understand the unique randomness of life, if not the miracle of it.

I say this as someone who hasn’t had that experience yet, but knows it’s coming. I know I don’t appreciate life enough, and I don’t think many people do. How else do we let our lives be consumed by a series of disappointments? Think about it: how many people do you know that are satisfied with their life? How many of us exist from one tiny grievance to another? We’re always looking for something to be disappointed by. If we didn’t, we would have no choice but to be happy.

We’re trained to seek some perfect life free of problems, grievances or annoyances. Somehow we’re led to believe that life should be easy and idyllic, even though that goes against everything we witness on a daily basis. It seems like we live with this expectation until someone close to us dies and we realize how fragile life is and how much time we have wasted being dissatisfied. Or at least I assume that’s how it goes. I haven’t experienced loss on that scale yet.

I choose to believe not everyone is so self-centered, so entitled to their own desires that they truly think the world is out to get them. We’re all caught up in trying to make our lives perfect instead of stopping to realize what we have is pretty great. And before I start turning into a self-help guru, I should say I don’t know how you go about doing this. I don’t know how to stop being disappointed when something I wanted to be amazing only turns out to be pretty good. I wish I did, because disappointment is a lousy way to get through your day.

Good things happen to most of us every day. Somehow we tend to only focus on the things that disappoint us. Just like I’m going to be disappointed by how few page views this gets. We’re privileged to only have to worry about such ridiculous things. Isn’t it great to be alive?