February 4, 2019

When Fandom is Too Much

Look…I know everyone that’s reading this has, at one point or another, been too invested in a team…more than likely the Blue Jays. I know I have been and I’m not ashamed to say it. Watching sports is my getaway from reality for two to four hours a couple of times a week but if I take it too seriously; it will affect my personal relationships. That, to me, is where I draw the line.

So, it’s been a little over a week since the news broke that Roy Halladay aka Doc; aka possibly the most dominant homegrown pitcher the Jays have ever developed; was to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. After having some time to reflect…and Lord knows I’ve reflected; I’ve got a lot of emotions pent up inside. That means I’m here to vent for a few hundred words (or close to 2000…it’s not like I did a word count).

First of all I’m sad because he won’t be there to give a speech.  Let’s be honest though; if Doc had to stand up and give a speech…it would probably be short and he wouldn’t focus on anything about himself. He’d talk about his teammates, his coaches, his opponents and, most importantly, his family. More than likely the words “I” and “Me” would be used rarely and probably only when he was giving his praises to someone else who helped his career. Those of us who managed to watch Doc pitch every 5th day knew exactly what we were getting: A bulldog of a pitcher who didn’t waste any time. He got on the rubber and pounded the strike zone. It was like watching a beautiful, efficient machine working at peak performance day after day, year after year; not requiring much maintenance other than the odd break here or there. He knew his job and prepared like no other. He told teammates that he wanted to walk less guys in a season than games he pitched in and looking at his stats; he actually accomplished it on more than one occasion. There are numerous stories about players reporting to Spring Training each year looking to keep up with Doc and his fitness regime, and oddly enough there are about an equal number of stories of teammates who couldn’t keep up after two days.

Some guys are meant to pitch. Doc was one of them. Everyone knew it. From 2002-2011 there were few pitchers who could keep up with him. Unfortunately, in his tenure with the Jays, he was with a team that couldn’t keep up with the Yankees and the Red Sox, so the playoffs weren’t really an option…more like an afterthought. When he was traded to Philly; he did what he always did. Dominate. He even carried it over to the Post Season and in his first start; he became a legend in the playoffs – firing a no hitter. If you get a chance; look up Joey Votto’s take on that game and how he tried to mess with Doc. Doc approached him the following year and said “Remember when you called timeout twice during that at bat? I wanted to kill you. If I could have; I would have walked to home plate and choked you to death.”

Think about that. That’s a bad, bad man. And he was ours for the majority of his career.

So, after putting my fingers to the keyboard I should be celebrating right? But for some reason I’m not…instead I’m sad…and I’m furious. My sadness subsided fairly quickly after news broke and I had time to collect my thoughts. Originally, I was going to write about how awesome Roy Halladay was ,not only as a player but a human being. That was it. I wanted to talk about how dominant he was as a member of the Phillies those first couple of years after he left Toronto and how quickly his skills left him and, like the perfectionist he was, he just walked away when he knew he couldn’t keep up any more. Health was an issue and his velocity dropped incredibly, but those first two years were special; like almost as special as any year he played with the Jays.

That’s how good he was.

The tone of this post/blog/whateveryouwanttocallit changed within 24 hours. I’m not going to lie, I wanted to turn off my phone and stay off social media for a few days because of the polarizing effect that his election had become. Blue Jays Twitter fans decided to turn his election into a referendum. Just in case you were living under a rock for the last week and are now asking “But why Mike? I don’t see a problem. What happened?”

This is what happened: The Halladay family came out and said Roy wanted to go in with no logo on his hat because they didn’t want to choose between the two teams he played for. Seriously; this is what caused outrage. Not that he’s going in with a Phillies hat; but because there are some people out there who think that a Jays logo belongs on his plaque. I didn’t even bother looking at the Phillies hashtag for fear of going down another wormhole that would give me an even bigger fear of where humanity is headed.

I had a few pointed comments come my way about “He had an interview where he said he wanted in as a Blue Jay.” Yes. Yes, he did; while he was in Toronto, at an event for Blue Jays greats. Do you think the guy who always made it about the people around him would stand up and say “Yep; thanks for having me back here but I really don’t want to wear this cap if I go to the Hall?” There is no way he would have said that; he was in a lose/lose situation. So, he said what he wanted to say to stay under the radar. I’m ok with that. I don’t know what his discussions were with his family and I can’t pretend I know like a lot of people are.

Here’s what I know. It was a family decision. Plain and simple. This is a family that gave their heart and soul to this man and allowed him to be great. They stood by him through injury and road trips and when he just “didn’t have it any more.” They dealt with his retirement and readjusting to having their husband and father around all the time and then they had to deal with his death and are still dealing with it.

Every. Single. Day.

Someone lost a son, a husband and a father not too long ago and they are still dealing with the loss; it doesn’t get any easier. You just learn to cope.

At this point, my anger has moved to rage. For some fans to sit high and mighty to complain about the logo on a baseball cap and say how “offended they are” here’s my advice to you: If you feel as though the lack of a logo on a cap on a bronze plaque in a museum in a place you’ll more than likely ever go is going to make you go to social media and talk crap about someone’s loved one who is mourning the death of their…you need to re-evaluate your priorities, your intentions and why you even follow sports.

I’ve got zero time for fans like you.

You’re toxic. You go to games and start booing in the second inning, or period or quarter because “that guy isn’t playing good enough,” or “for all the money he’s making, he’s garbage…I could play better right now.” No you couldn’t. Just because sports viewing is your life doesn’t mean you’re an athlete. Not even close. It also doesn’t mean you’re an expert on the sport. What it means is that when you go to a game and act like my toddler does when I take away her favourite toy; you’re a jerk.

When you hop on Twitter and treat a widow and her family like crap; that doesn’t make you a jerk…it makes you a grade A jackass. You should talk to someone. That behaviour isn’t healthy. You don’t get to say “it’s not fair,” or “he meant so much to me as a Jays fan; that it’s a slap in the face.” This isn’t and will never be about you.

The day his wife or son gets to speak at Cooperstown; believe it or not…isn’t about you. It’s about them. It’s about them honouring/mourning the greatest man they’ve ever known. It’s not about how one time you watched him pitch. It’s not about watching him take no hitters late into games with the Jays only to have my father walk into the room and say “Wow, no hits so far…” That’s about me and my Dad…not me and Roy Halladay.

So, you need to step down from your high and mighty pedestal and realize this day means more than you can ever imagine to his family. It symbolizes not only the sacrifices Doc made over his career but the sacrifices his family had to make each step of the way.

We as fans get so wrapped up in players and how much they mean to “our” team; and how they say all the right things about the fans all the time. But if you overlay any interview athletes give with new teams and compare it with their old teams; chances are those sound bites are pretty close; especially when you’re dealing with a perfectionist like Roy Halladay.

I know the word fan comes from the Latin word fanaticus meaning “insanely but divinely inspired…” but man; we need to take a deep breath here.

Roy Halladay will always be a Blue Jay to me. No question about it. But he will also be the guy who went and dominated for the Phillies for a couple of years; and you know what? That’s ok. I don’t care about the logo on his hat, that’s not who he is to me. I’ll remember the glares from the mound that were captured on t.v. and the smiles after the game when you’d see him getting pranked by A.J. Burnett. That’s Roy Halladay to me.

The person is what matters to me; not the logo…maybe it should be the same for you.

One Comment on “When Fandom is Too Much

Martin Lindquist
February 15, 2019 at 7:38 pm

Well said.

Leave a Reply