Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Small Note To Everyone Who Lives Exclusively In The Future

Last night at the casino, I sit myself down to a guy in a McNabb jersey. He had been to the game the previous night. I asked him, as part of the usual talk you'd have with a total stranger, whether he thought the team had a chance against the Giants next week in New York. And his response was a classic Philly Fan moment.

"Yeah, I think they'll win, but I don't think they'll make the playoffs. They are going to win just so enough games to really screw our draft position."

He was one of two people at the table who I took a lot of chips from, of course.

This Horrible Cassandra-Esque Power of Knowing the Grim Future is also common among NBA fans, writers and commentators, who are all a-twitter about the 2010 NBA free agent class. And I have only one wish for these people.

Please put yourself into a medical facility now, so that we can be saved from your nonsensical blatherings for the next 500-odd days. Especially the part about how speculation in this fashion is good for the game and the fans, since it gives us all something wonderful to talk about (LeBron to the Knicks! LeBron to the Nets! LeBron to the Pistons! LeBron to Europe! Oooh, aaahhh, I'm all a tingle!) while we are not, you know, ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO THE FREAKING GAMES THAT ARE IN FRONT OF US.

There is a disease among sports telecasters, commentators, and to a far lesser extent, bloggers, but only if you consider Bill Simmons to be a blogger. That disease involves being so wrapped up in being a Sharp (in the wrestling lingo), instead of a mark.

Marks, you see, ACTUALLY WATCH THE GAMES. We care about whether our team is winning in the here and now, because we don't really care to think about the future; we care to exist in the actual moment, where LeBron James is the best player on a top 5 NBA team, instead of later, where he might be the best player on a *different* top 5 NBA team.

Sharps, on the other hands, know about the salary cap. They're certain that they would be better at running a franchise than the people who do this for a living. (One suspects they are also the same people who know best about how to run the government.)

Look, I *get* the temptation to think ahead, especially if you are a fan of a team without anything too spectacular to think about right now. I've made my bones that the Eagles need to move on from the Reid Era, and I'm not changing that tune just because they finally won a night game. I'm not even going to change that tune if they beat New York next week. Hell, I'm prepared to call for Reid's resignation this year into February if I have to.

But this whole wankery of wanting to be Virtual GM and run trade simulations and speculate endlessly about what's going to happen in the far future... well, that way lies madness, people. That way lies three-year Presidential election campaigns and fan bases that can't be happy with anything but a championship, rather than the simple and elegant pleasure of a team wining more than you thought they would, or developing young talent.

So if you're feeling a backlash against the We're Always Doomed People, or the This Season is Meaningless People... well, good. Feel free. Call me on it when I do it, even.

Because if you live your entire life waiting for something great to happen, you'll have wasted an awful lot of your life missing all of the things that are actually really good.

And that's all I've got to say about that. (At least until the next time that someone brings up their mock draft and free agent boards...)

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