BYB State of the Fanbase: Go Ahead and Vomit (or Yawn)


Most entertaining post you'll read all month -- Kurt

I have only been an "active member" of Bless You Boys for a few months (in the sense of having rapidly skimmed a few thousand game-thread comments without comprehending anything, only to immediately "rec" several of them randomly, or just as randomly reply with insightful follow-ups such as "so's your mom," "not sure if serious," or the nearly Shakespearian "THIS"). In that period of time, I have noticed that this particular community not-so-neatly divides into two basic groups: The Amygdalas and the Vulcans.

The "amygdala" (from the Latin "amyg," meaning "tendency to go ballistic," and "dala," meaning "any time the Tigers lose") is a part of the human brain that, according to Wikipedia, "is often confused with squirrel genitalia." Wikipedia makes this claim because Wikipedia is an open-source encyclopedia which can be edited by literally anyone, and I just added that part about squirrel genitalia to the entry because I felt like being a jerk. But later in the article, it says that the "amygdalae" (plural) are "almond-shaped groups of nuclei located deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain," which "perform a primary role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions."

The first thing we learn from this definition is that we are definitely out of roasted almonds, and need to get some on our very next trip to the store. The second thing we learn, however, is that the amygdala is that part of the brain responsible for emotional reactions, the so-called "fight or flight" instinct, or - in the case of Tigers baseball games - the part of the brain that causes us to either embarrass ourselves while dancing when Jhonny Peralta hits a walk-off home run, or to write thoughtful, delightfully punctuation-free Fanposts consisting of ALL CAPS variations on the phrase "Fire Jim Leylander!" after the Tigers lose (often vigorously decorated with drunken obscenities that would make a hardened sailor blush).

The "Vulcan" is, of course, a reference to the famous fictional character Spock, who was famous for his logic and lack of emotion, and who - also according to a Wikipedia article that I just edited - was a lifelong Tigers fan. The Vulcan is a member of the Tigers' fanbase who is rarely moved in an emotional fashion either by wins or losses, and regularly achieves at least a semi-erection when assembling a fresh stack of statistics, charts, and graphs relating to the BABIP phenomenon.

I'm not even sure to which group I belong, mostly because I have felt strong tendencies towards both (I had a semi-erection while dancing in a pile of BABIP print-outs when Jhonny hit that walk-off against Boston). However, in recent years I have had formal education in psychology and counseling (mostly because I aspire to someday owe a lot of money in student loans which I will never, ever have a chance of repaying), and I continue to be interested in the human psyche and group dynamics. And it is because of this interest that I have written this post.

Game after game, I watch the Amygdalas and the Vulcans engage in vigorous debate, each side arguing over the current state of Detroit Tigers with a passion usually reserved for solving world hunger, but with a far higher ABV percentage involved. Sometimes, these debates are productive and conducive to knowledge-sharing, but sometimes things turn sour and debates become sarcastic slug-fests which end in people being compared to Hitler Jim Leyland Brandon Inge someone truly awful.

In the interests of promoting greater understanding and deeper bonds of unification (as well as other buzz-words and empty platitudes), I offer these pearls of advice.

To the Amygdalas: go down to the local organic health food store (the one where they sell all-natural raccoon pancreas oil) and buy a few bottles of pure, uncut Zen. Drink regularly with a steady Optimism chaser. In other words, just enjoy the moment-by-moment stuff, and keep a positive outlook. When the Tigers win, celebrate well, but without expecting that this means Detroit will soon secede from the nation and become its own super-power. When the Tigers lose, acknowledge the frustration, but be thankful that you got to watch future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cabrera get a hit, or even stand in the batter's box. Thousands will envy you someday (but not because of the raccoon pancreas oil). In short: chill the f*$%ck out, this is a fun game to watch, and the Tigers don't stand or fall with one game, or one week of games, or even with the entire 2013 season. Find something to enjoy right now, in this moment of the game, and enjoy it to the fullest. (Preferably if it comes in IPA form.)

To the Vulcans: in the (heavily paraphrased) words of Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Pulp Fiction, "Losing is an anti-miracle, and I want you to fucking acknowledge it!" Not only does losing suck, but some people have a hard-wired need to process that disappointment vocally (and by "vocally" I mean "loudly" and "with unceasing irrationality"). This is not indicative in any way of a person's intelligence, no matter how hard they attempt to prove otherwise. It's just the amygdala's "fight or flight" reaction getting in the way of otherwise-present logical thought. (This "logical thought" will almost certainly surface within 24 hours, after the vodka-fueled hangover subsides.) So go ahead and let your own emotions show. Be elated with those who are elated, and be frustrated with those who are calling for Leyland's tender bits on a silver platter. Flash your stats and year-to-year comparisons when necessary to prevent people from leaping in front of moving trains when the TIGERS OH MY G-D LOSE AGAIN TO THE F-CKING ANGELS ARE YOU F-CKING KIDDING ME FIAR JUAN LOCKLANDY!!!, but remember that your cold, hard facts mean very little to a person who is distraught because J-SUS F-CKING CHR-ST HOW DO YOU STRAND THE BASES LOADED WITH NOBODY OUT AGAIN?!?!11!!!1!?! Remember that your stats and graphs aren't nearly as useful as a simple, affirming, "Yeah, I know, that's frustrating as hell."

The Tigers are under-performing. They're also unlucky. They're also out-performing where they were last year, which is simultaneously awesome and irrelevant, because that means they're on pace to lose the World Series again, just not quite as embarrassingly as in 2012. They have one of the highest runs-per-game averages in all of MLB, which is awesome and irrelevant, because that number apparently drops into negative territory as soon as they move beyond a one-mile radius of Woodward Avenue. They have been in first place in the American League Central Division for 75% of the season so far, which is awesome and irrelevant, because the rest of the AL Central teams quit playing baseball several years ago (except for the White Sox, who are secretly unbeatable, but who continue to lose in majestic fashion just to see if they can get Hawk Harrelson's face to literally explode), and unfortunately, the Tigers will be facing none of these teams in the World Series. It's been awesome so far, and it's also been irrelevant - it's been irrelevantly awesome. What more do you want?

In conclusion: it really is all about the journey (or, possibly, I just finished smoking a reefer as dense as Miggy's batting average). The year 2013 is the last year you will be able to watch the 2013 Tigers play baseball. Enjoy it for what it is, or hate it for what it isn't, but either way, it will never be like this again, ever. (On second thought, I might have just accidentally smoked one of Miggy's actual bats.) Participate in this season by getting excited when they win, or getting frustrated when they lose, but whether the Tigers finish in last place or win the World Series, the season starts all over again in 2014, then again in 2015, and so on. It's entirely possible that 2013 will be a losing year which you thoroughly enjoyed, or a World Series Championship year that you thoroughly hated. (Because FYYER JACK LOVELACE!) It's completely up to you how the season turns out. So please, for the love of Shiva, don't let stats prevent you from feeling the excitement, don't let pessimism prevent you from reveling in the moment, don't let differences in opinion prevent you from being part of this online community, and above all else, don't let common sense keep you from FIRING JIM LEYLAND.

(Joke, guys. Joke.)

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.