Tagged: Fans; Fight; Andrew McCutchen; Concussion

Putting the Fan in Fanatic

I’ve been really caught up with school and work for the past few months, and the holidays were an especially hectic time, so this is my first blog post in a very long time. I figured that the news in baseball is pretty old at this point, and this time of Spring Training is very slow so I’d come back and get reacquainted with a different sort of post. I hope you enjoy, or at the very least I make you think.

Left Field Loonies and the Dog Pound. White outs, black outs, red outs, and everything else. This is the life of a fan. I could go on for days about the ridiculous stuff I’ve done for my team, and I’m sure any fan could. The question is: where do we draw the line? When are we being too much of a fan?

                I can tell you, truthfully and honestly, that the video of Sid Bream sliding into home makes me cringe and curse. I wasn’t even coherent at the time, and was still in diapers. That goes to show you how big of a fan I am. I’ve laughed, cried, screamed, and jested with the best of them. I’ve toasted beers to my team, and spat in anger at the thought of our rivals. Hell, even 80% of my wardrobe is black and gold and/or Pirates related. Am I too much of a fan? Is this healthy? I don’t see an issue with it. I’m not hurting anyone, though I’m sure some jilted ex girlfriends would tell you differently.

                I recently had a conversation about hockey with a fan of a team that rivals the Penguins. I won’t say which team, because I refuse to lump this ignoramus with any professional organization for fear of dirtying their name, but this particular fan was ranting on and on about Sidney Crosby’s injury and how it was a beautiful thing. For those unaware, Sid has been out for quite a few weeks now with a hefty concussion. So let me get this straight. A brain injury is a good thing? Absolute ignorance.

 

 
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Sid’s concussion troubles began after a harsh hit in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day.

 

               Now, don’t get me wrong. Last baseball season when Andrew McCutchen took a fastball to the neck, I cheered heartily when Paul Maholm hit the opposing pitcher in his next at-bat. Mind you Maholm can control where he’s throwing and how hard, and Mike Leake -who I believe was pitching for the Reds that day–took one in the meat of the thigh at about 70 mph. Kid stuff. But, when we’re talking injury, brain injury, and you cheer for that, you’re just disrespecting your sport.

                ESPN just put together a very good segment on brain injury and concussion and it’s after effect in pro football players. Very good stuff, unfortunately I can’t find it online. Anyway, the expert analysts on the show displayed that many brain injuries, especially when recurring, lead to depression and higher risk of suicide in retired athletes. So you tell me that’s a good thing? Educate yourself.

                How many times in sports do we see an athlete get a concussion and never come back the same? How many catchers in baseball have taken one too many foul tips to the mask and never performed the same? In fact, the Pirates may be seeing the effects of this right now with catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit.  

                Doumit, projected to be the Pirates’ Brian McCann as he came up through the system, was a .300 hitter in his major league debut. The rookie showed high upside and ample promise, as the Pirates made hi m their every day catcher and sought to place him as a much needed middle of the lineup bat. Doumit, however, has suffered a string of freak injuries since then. From broken wrists to concussion like symptoms, Doumit has be on the DL his fair share of times in his not so lengthy career, suffering multiple concussions over the past two seasons.

                Doumit now barely scratches a .260 average, and only drove 13 home runs out of the yard last season, as he lost his starting position due to shaky defense, and is looking to re-establish himself as a major leaguer on a team that isn’t quiet about trying to trade him away.

                Doumit’s troubles may, or may not be the result of concussions, but the catcher told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette last month that he’s had at least 10 “small concussions” from baseball since he was 18-years-old. That’s not a few, that’s 10. I’m no doctor, but you can be the judge.

 

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Doumit has suffered a plethora of injuries in his career, concussions being the most prominent.

                Now, celebrating injuries isn’t the only way being a fan goes too far, how about the brawls, the drunken arguments, and the trash talking? The bar fights and tailgate tiffs. All of it is unacceptable once it reaches a certain point.

                Last summer a Phillies fan was killed outside of Citizens Bank Park following an argument after a game. That story can be found here: http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/Phillies_Fan_Beaten_To_Death

                But that’s just Philly right? Wrong. Things that this happen everywhere. “Even here in Pittsburgh?” You might ask. Yes, even here in Pittsburgh. After suffering a loss in the playoffs, a local Pens fan murdered his wife and torched their house following a dispute related to the game. You can find that story here:  http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/postedsports/archive/2010/04/23/police-say-man-killed-wife-over-dispute-about-penguins-triple-overtime-game.aspx

                These things occur every day, everywhere, and every type of event. So the next time you pick a fight with that rival fan next to you, or those drunks behind you, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. There’s a big difference between being passionate, and being reckless.

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