My favorite podcast is not about baseball; it’s The Hilarious World of Depression, where host John Moe talks to comedians, actors, and other funny creative types about their struggles with Clinny-D. He starts every episode with the same question: Is depression funny?
As a lifelong fellow traveler, I can tell you my answer to that question. Yes! Depression — both the seemingly trivial things that bring it on and our so-over-the-top reaction to them — is an absurd practical joke your brain plays on you and it is freaking hysterical.
Not at the time, of course. In the moment, depression is brutal and cruel. It wrecks your life and the life of everyone around you.
Did you really smash your remote through the television after Alex Colome’s latest blown save? Are drinking yourself numb just to endure another game? I hope you have access to resources that can help you deal with the underlying problem, rather than simply the baseball problem.
This column is not a substitute for a visit to a licensed therapist. It’s not intended to be.
But if you’re just tired of all the losing? If you’re just worn out from hearing people tell you, “you know, if this losing streak had happened in August, nobody would care,” because excuse me are you kidding I most certainly would care we’ve lost eight freaking games in a row!
Then these survival tips are for you.
Follow an obscure player
Perhaps you’ve heard there’s no “I” in team? Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but this is a lie your boss has been telling you since the 90s to keep you from getting upset about the raise you still aren’t getting.
The truth is, there are 25 “I”s on the Rays at any given point. And while the bad news is that a lot of them suck, the good news is that they rarely suck all at the same time. So you have options.
Maybe the most frustrating thing about this losing streak (I know, it’s hard to pick just one thing, because the flaws on this team are like your children) is that the biggest culprits have been the supposedly “good” players. Colome, KK, Ramos, lots of struggles from the guys we were counting on.
But we have a roster full of other guys! Guys you’ve never heard of! So a great way to manage your frustration is to pick a new favorite player, the more obscure the better, and follow him obsessively.
Go get yourself an Andrew Kittredge shirsy. Start the Ref Refsnyder walking club at work. Cut out pictures of Joey Wendle, and also random white dudes who kinda sorta look like Joey Wendle, and stick them in a scrapbook along with tastefully designed word-art clipped from magazines so that each page reads “Your hair is winter fire / January embers / my heart burns there too.”
Okay, maybe not that last one. But you get the idea.
Start following minor leaguers
If you don’t already follow minor league baseball, now is a great time to start. Because while it is true that prospects will break your heart, it is also true that they probably aren’t breaking your heart right now. At least not all of them at the same time, and not in the repeatedly brutal way the current version of Rays have smashed your heart into tiny bits, then ground your heart under their cleats like a cigarette butt, so that your heart is now just tiny bits of heart-dust, heart-dust that is quickly swept up into a used dustpan bought at a yard sale, then dumped into a trashbag and delivered to a seedy abandoned factory down by the Port, where all the various and sundry heart-dust of disillusioned fans is melded together into a nice collectible ceramic vase for Stu’s mantle, and into which he will store the ashes and bones of the 2018 season (probably).
I’m sorry, what was I saying?
Oh, minor leaguers. Yes.
So what I’m saying is, now is a great time to get familiar with the minor league system. And not just the headliners like two-way prospect Brendan McKay, or the guys close to breaking into the majors, like Willy Adames and Anthony Banda. Dig into the names in low-A ball. That Charlotte Stone Crab squad is super fun and interesting right now. Same thing with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. And Montgomery and . . . well, just about everybody except the big club, to be frank.
It’s the perfect time to find out all about those guys that Scott Grauer and Mat Germain are telling us about. Get a Baseball America subscription or stream some minor league games to know Vidal Brujan and Brock Burke and how to tell apart the three Lowes.
Do this, and by the time the 2019 Community Prospect Rankings come around, you too can “plus one” like you pro.
And as a bonus, you’ll have brand new and interesting ways of getting your heart broken in 2020.
Have a backup team
Just like your guidance counselor told you when she said you need a fallback for when this whole “be a rockstar” thing doesn’t work out, you need a backup plan. Or in this case, a backup team. Preferable one that doesn’t suck. Because you have enough losing in your life.
Seriously, it’s not cheating on your team just because you enjoy watching Bryce Harper respond to a fan’s mocking “overrated” call with this donger.
A fan yelled and called Bryce Harper “overrated” and then on the next pitch, he hit his 2nd homer of the game pic.twitter.com/hDYjoX5RsU— Kent Murphy (@RealCoachKent) April 2, 2018
Personally, I have two backup teams. One is the team of my childhood, the team that taught me how to boo: the Philadelphia Phillies (sorry not sorry).
The other is the Minnesota Twins, because there was a period in the 80s when the Phillies were awful and I needed some joy in my life. And yes, while he was a terrible person, did you ever watch Kirby Puckett play the game?
And they call soccer the beautiful game...
So pick an alt!
But not Boston.
Do I have to tell you that Twitter is a cesspool? No. No, I don’t. It’s racist and sexist and bullying and awful.
But the truly infuriating thing about the site is the flowers sprouting above the septic tank.
There are some really funny folks on baseball twitter! And you should follow them. It will be good for your sanity.
Schadenfreude is your friend
Yes, we’re awful. But we’re only a game worse than the Dodgers, and they spent a bazillion dollars to suck.
And then there’s the Padres.
Look, we may have lost a lot of games so far. But we haven’t lost one on a pop-off.
Well, not yet anyway.