When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Baseball might be the greatest sport on earth. In what other sport can abject misery turn to joy so quickly? Sitting there Saturday night waiting for Brad Lidge to not be Brad Lidge and slam the door on the Washington Nationals while listening to thousands of Phillies fans cheering on their hometown team was misery. Then it happened. With one beautiful swing of the bat Zimmerman recreated the famous NLCS moment and made all the Phillies fans feel like Brad Lidge in that moment. I am sure you have seen the picture. Pujols is in the background admiring his homer and Lidge in the foreground staring at it, mouth agape in complete and utter shock and realization at what he had just done. When the news comes that Brad Lidge has retired it will be that moment that imagine that is burned into everyone’s mind. That is Brad Lidge.
That moment Saturday night before the ball had even left the ballpark every Nationals fan rose in admiration of Ryan Zimmerman. Everyone stood to witness the joy, the miracle he had brought us. He had turned a sure Phillies victory into a defeat. I am sure the Phillies percent of winning at that time was in the high 90’s. With one swing of the bat Zimmerman turned what was almost a statistical certainty into an anomaly. The Nationals fans in the stands were filled with feelings of joy and euphoria. Cheers erupted in celebration of some being greater than us, one that can deliver miracles.
It was also on this day that Adam Dunn was not traded. That he would remain a Washington National. Earlier that day Peter Gammons wondered why the Nationals would trade Adam Dunn. He believed Dunn was a big part of the ball club and could help the Nationals win sooner rather than later. After the trade did not occur Buster Onley exclaimed that he was confused as to what the Nationals were doing and didn’t understand it. Onley should call his former colleague he can explain. The difference in the way MLB network and ESPN treat baseball is night and day. The ESPN analysts are still shackled in the cave watching a puppet show they believe to be reality. They do have a few good ones, but with the advent of MLB network it can be reasoned that guys like Kurkjian and Stark are not long for ESPN.
The day before the trade deadline was when the Nationals made most of their moves, and one of those moves made me sad. Not because I loved the player. In fact I didn’t care for them at all. Cristian Guzman was traded to the Texas Rangers for two AA pitchers. If they turn out to be another Chico and Mock it is a good deal. Guzman was not helping the team and him batting second was not good in any way. Despite his high average he was not a good hitter. My friend loved him. He enjoyed when he would come to bat and it was like an event in the stadium. It wasn’t some mortal being likely to swing at the first pitch and ground out softly it was Cristian Guuuuuuuuuzzzzzzzzman. He was here to save the day and get a table turning hit. In my friends mind Guzman was always the underdog hero.
That is where the problem lies. I tried to explain to my friend that Guzman simply wasn’t a good player. I pointed out his OBP his SLG, WAR, VORP, wOBA, and every other advanced metric I would pull off the internet, but he wouldn’t listen, and he was the smart one. Why should he listen to me and let me ruin his fun. It is fun to believe that guys like Guzman, Nieves, and Harris can deliver the same type of moments that Zimmerman can. We believe what we believe because we have left the Cave and seen the light. When someone new comes to baseball we try and help them to see the light the way we see it, but not all people want to. They want to live in the dark world of the Cave where Guzman is good at the game of baseball. They want to think and reason with the mind of a child. The announcer says his name with such emphasis he must be good. They want to argue not with stats or logic, but with tide turning base hits and small sample sizes.
This year my friend has come to baseball. He has gone with me to Pickles to drink $2.50 beers and watch the Nationals lose to the Orioles. We have gone to Nationals Park and seen Stephen Strasburg. He has come to baseball with a mind different from mine. He does not see things the way I do, and I times I regret the fact I see the way I do. The game would be more fun if I could believe in guys like Guzman. If I could look at the old style stats and see a good player. The term ignorance is bliss exists for a reason. We want to think the steak is a steak and not some gruel being feed to us through a tube by machines. Opening your mind to a higher level of thinking sometimes closes it to a more enjoyable way of living.