Friday, March 27, 2009

Bad Gear Fear

Last night on my commute home, my iPod began to malfunction. It would cut out after a few minutes, and while music would begin again with a mere click, it was annoying, and after a dozen reboots in 25 minutes, I gave up and suffered with the jabbering crosstalk that too many commutes now have. Maybe I could have played with it longer, but since I'm still wearing multiple layers (spring, my ass) since moving back to the East Coast from Northern California 2.5 years ago, that means that I can never be warm again. Seriously, I'm like a little old man here. I'll be moving to a condo in Boca and eating dinner at 3pm within weeks. But anyway, that's not where I'm going with this, so...

The point is that, having gotten used to a level of performance and consistency from my gear, I became spoiled. When the iPod went down, I still had the same magazines, laptop and Blackberry that I carry every day. My commute hadn't become terrible; it just reverted to what it was in December, before the Shooter Wife gifted me with the iPod. And suddenly, what I had been used to all that time was damn near intolerable, and all I could think of was how screwed I was if the iPod had real issues.

We all do this; once you have new and better gear, going back to the old level of performance can just seem soul-crushing. In my 20s, after the first marriage circled the bowl, I wound up moving away from my nice downtown Philly apartment, back to the same crappy part of Fishtown that I had escaped to before. It was what I had to do for economics and work, but man alive, was it soul-crushing. Bad gear is a reversion, and it strikes at every insecurity you might have ever had; progress was an illusion. Failure was your true level of performance. The bad gear is simply a manifestation of that.

Now that I've given you a sunny start to your day, let's lasso this and bring it back to sports.

As a (mostly) Philly sports fan, I live in fear of the return of bad gear. So instead of obsessing over how, say, the Sixers may have years and years to go on a crippling contract to Elton Brand that will cap their ceiling at 45 to 50 wins, I think about how nice it is that Samuel Dalembert could never ever be compared to Shawn Bradley, and how Tony DiLeo has the team playing in a way that could never be confused with The Doug Moe Era.

When other Eagles fans long and pule for the return of a messianic #1 wide receiver (this month, the eternal wanderlust that is Anquan Boldin has given way to the he might be available Braylon Edwards), I'm just hoping that the new offensive line doesn't make me remember Ron Solt.

Now, this might explain a few things (too much, really?): the acceptance of mediocrity, holding on to the memories of players that were entertaining but flawed, the hedging of allegiances and/or passion for the knowledge that, like death, taxes and people jabbering for the entire length of my commute at a volume that even the rejuvenated iPod can't mask, a reversion to a bad level is just a matter of time.

And it is, of course, a matter for willful deception of one's own intellect. The same way that every day is, really.

Just because Tra Thomas is gone does not mean that we're going to go back to turnstile tackles. The fact that the Sixers haven't had a top-level low-post scorer since Malone and Barkley does not mean that they will never have one again, or that Brand is doomed. Eric Chavez might be useful for the A's this year. They might not regret the Rich Harden salary dump in the same way that they regretted the Tim Hudson salary dump. And so on.

We may think we know what will happen, but we really don't. We might even be right more often than we are wrong (yes, I've got a little ego from the fantasy sports performance, thanks for noticing)... but teh wrongness is going to return.

The details are not written, and the details mean everything.


Anonymous said...

Um, what did you part about ron mean. I'm wondering because he's my dad. Are you referring to when he got traded to the eagles with the knee issues or?

DMtShooter said...

Yup. Wasn't the most inspiring transaction for the team, or the best era in his career. But hey, thanks for visiting.

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