Fandom

Smaller Than Life

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If you stayed up to watch Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, it’s highly likely you were exhausted this morning. That’s not because the game went all that late (considering it went to extra innings, the pace was comparatively brisk for this postseason), but because you went through a probably-unhealthy number of emotions.

Assuming the point of view of an Astros fan, you thrilled at Marwin Gonzalez launching a game-tying home run against the previously invincible Kenley Jansen. You felt your stomach drop to the floor after Logan Forsythe slid into home just ahead of Brian McCann’s tag. In between those huge moments, you were left a tense ball of exposed nerves, scared to breathe lest it push one of Giles’ fastballs that much closer to the middle of the strike zone. And maybe you were allowed a brief reprieve to laugh at the ball bouncing off Chris Taylor’s head, or Yasiel Puig’s continuing relationship with his bat.

This is always what we’re looking for in our entertainment, isn’t it? To be made to experience emotions? Almost every genre is organized by what it evokes in us: comedy, suspense, horror, drama, romance. Sports in general, and for my purposes baseball in specific, are the perfect environments for experiencing these emotions, because they straddle the line between fantasy and real life, taking from the best of both.

Baseball is real life, pretty much. It is real people doing real things in real time, so the tension and drama are real: we honestly do not know what will happen next. With, say, a horror movie, we can always complain that the plot is obvious, the monster is cheesy, an actor is terrible. No such complaints to be found in sports. This is all the result of athletes competing against each other, and it has not (unless you’re extremely cynical about the league’s influence over game outcomes) been scripted.

But it still isn’t “real life”, not really. As much as we may be emotionally invested in the outcome of a game, we are getting that adrenaline rush not because of any real threat to our well-being. And whether or not our team wins doesn’t carry the real-world consequences of, say, an election, or a war, if we really wanna go crazy. We’re free to dispense with the nuanced thinking that real life requires, because ultimately this game doesn’t matter. The stakes are simultaneously incredibly high and completely non-existent.

I don’t know about you, but this opportunity to momentarily devote my mental energy to something that doesn’t have consequences that could fundamentally change the course of civilization for decades is a very welcome thing. Too much of life these days is dealing with existentially crushing decisions. It feels good to, for a few hours of your day, place all your psychic energy on where a ball goes. This, at least, is something you can forget about tomorrow.

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Episode

4.12.17 – A Flag for Todd Mission

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This week, Daniel and Ben take it upon themselves to invent a proper minor league team for the Houston area, and stumble upon maybe their best idea yet. Plus, they catch you up on the most important events from the week in baseball, including a condom on the field and crying Rangers fans! Come for the baseball talk, stay for the Dr. Who discussion.

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Episode

4.4.17 – More Like Bel-traitor!

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Baseball’s back! And we’re back! What a glorious day. But alas, only half of the regular crew is back, as Josh has headed back to school. But he is being ably filled in for by one of our favorite guests, Ben Hebert. Join us as we catch you up on the happenings in the World Baseball Classic, welcome baseball back for a new season, and make predictions that are either stupid or wrong.

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Fandom

Our Little Corner of The World

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Come along with me
To my little corner of the world
Dream a little dream
In my little corner of the world
You’ll soon forget

At the moment, comparing the Houston Astros franchise to the Texas Rangers is a good way to make yourself depressed. Against all odds, the Rangers seem to have recovered fully from the franchise’s brief fallow period between their back-to-back 2010/2011 World Series appearances to last year’s playoff berth. As of this writing, the Rangers are 8.5 games ahead of the Astros in the American League West, thanks to a 75-53 record that is the second best in baseball.

They’ve been helped to that record by a number players acquired in pretty frustrating fashion. Ian Desmond was signed for a song after apparently no other team could use a very good shortstop, then became a “surprise” All Star. Jonathan Lucroy almost went to the young and exciting Cleveland Indians before exercising his no-trade clause (which he was well within his rights to do) and being sent to the Rangers. Last season, Cole Hamels was almost an Astro before exercising his own no-trade clause (which he was within his rights to do, but I’m much less sympathetic). Continue reading

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Fandom

Crying In the Juice Box

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You saw me crying in the chapel
The tears I shed were tears of joy
I know the meaning of contentment
I am happy with the Lord

Over nearly 10 years of being legal drinking age, when I was trying to think of places to go get drinks, I had a different set of criteria than a lot of other people my age. For most folks in their 20s, they’re looking for the hippest, trendiest bar in town where they have a chance to see and be seen.

I tended to seek out the place with the least amount of people, while still being among the sort of people I felt comfortable with. In Houston, this meant avoiding Midtown at all costs. Big Star had a cool back area and the best jukebox in town. Lola’s was cheap and seldom crowded, but perhaps too dive-y. Once Cecil’s Monday night prices for wells and Lone Stars skyrocketed from $1 to $1.50, enough people stopped coming to make it comfortable. Plus, it being an old haunt of Bill Hicks lent it an extra bit of allure.

There was another place in Houston I could go during that time, that I always knew would offer me a peaceful, quiet evening. No exorbitant door charge, no packs of annoying yuppies elbowing me out of the bartender’s field of vision. Beer prices were a bit high, but at least you got to keep the neat souvenir cup it came in. Continue reading

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