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December 31, 2013 at 12:46 pm ET
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Five New Year’s Resolutions for Baseball Fans

Every year you tell yourself the same thing: “[Insert next year here] will be the year I finally get back in shape!”  Or, “2014 will finally be the year I take control of my life and get a job I really enjoy!” Unfortunately for me, I enjoy consuming alcohol and pizza in a way that makes looking like Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” (much less Edward Norton in the same film) a bit of a challenge. And my crippling student loan debt will likely preclude me from blogging about Bryce Harper for a living. Regardless, there are some things as baseball fans we can resolve to improve in 2014. Here are five of them:

1. Learn something new

I’m not saying we must all live and die by numbers, but if you want to understand whether they are legit (WPA) or kinda bullshit (UZR) you should at least take some time to explore their meanings and the context in which they apply. Here’s a good place to start. Numbers aren’t your game? Learn how to grip a fork ball or what it means when a hitter drops his hands. As someone who once thought this was stuff was going to ruin the game (to be fair, I was 21), my appreciation has only grown as I forced myself to learn about park effects or defensive shifts. Learning new stuff is always a good thing.

2. Actually watch a game 

I noticed last summer when I’m at a baseball game, watching the action has become ancillary to my overall experience. Sure, I follow close enough to know when a big at bat is taking place, or when the game is close, but I’d estimate the majority of my time is spent doing something else. Yes, modern technology has made multi-tasking a normal part of our daily lives, but part of the enjoyment of watching baseball is in the details. I’ve missed so many live plays because I was reading something stupid on Twitter or checking scores of other games. I can do better and so can you: put the phone down.

3. Form your own opinion…

There are hundreds of baseball “writers” out there who pretend to know what they’re talking about (hi!). Some, more popular than others. Nonetheless, don’t get caught up in one line of thinking or following one school/writer of thought. The only thing lamer than comic book fan-boys are baseball writer fan-boys. Also, this isn’t politics: you’re allowed to like both.

4. …But embrace the debate

The ready access of information and the prevalence of social media has made baseball a 24/7/365 sport. I can share opinions, theories, and ideas about a player or team with people all over the globe. I love being exposed to that. What I don’t love is the aggro one-off response I see when someone disagrees with another fan’s position. Talking about sports is one of the best things about being alive! Why are we turning this into a pissing contest with a winner or loser? If people want to think Jack Morris isn’t a Hall of Famer, who gives a shit? How does it personally affect you? State your case, respect the opposition, and let go of it. Trust me, Jack doesn’t care you’ve got his back with your hypothetical vote.

5. Fight the cynicism

To borrow a phrase from Thomas Hobbes, life is “…nasty, brutish, and short.” I’m reminded of this everyday when I step outside or read the news. Thus, I turn to baseball for relief. Yet lately, all I ever see are Twitter/Facebook/comment flame wars or uptight douchers taking potshots at players behind the firewall that is the Internet. Enough is enough. I realized a few months ago I was becoming one of these people and I hate myself for it. It’s time to get back to embracing what is unique and fun about this game, not the negativity that arises when a prospect doesn’t quite measure up or when a guy boots a ball. Don’t let someone else ruin baseball for you just because they want to use their smidgen of online credibility to make you just as miserable as they are. Leave the cynicism for Cubs fans.

Happy New Year everyone.  41 days to go…

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One Response to “Five New Year’s Resolutions for Baseball Fans”
  1. The Big Cat says:

    Good post! Here’s a new twist for actually watching a game – keep the box score! Turn off your phone, and take out a pencil if you still own one, and record the activity for nine innings. It’s almost like being in the game.

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