The Negativity-Objectivity Myth

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The Negativity-Objectivity Myth
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

You've all had 20 minutes to look at this diagram. Does ANYONE think its correct? No? Good. Welcome to the University of Chicago, lesson one: hate everything—U of C Masters Student and Teaching Assistant.

Josh Ellis is far from the only person to believe this maxim, though he is the author. There seems to be a belief that to be a true fan of a team, you've got to hate it. Every coach is an idiot, no player is worth his contract, the owner is as cheap as it comes—no one is safe from the fury.

Finding fault with an idea is the first half of many intellectual enterprises, but this is where most fans stop. The second part is to take those flaws and construct a better idea and that's where discourse comes from. If all that happens is, "your idea sucks," no value is added and the debate gets dull and stale.

Sometimes this is mentality warranted. Minnesota Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire's decision to continue playing Nick Punto in 2007, despite the fact that over the course of two separate months, he had fewer than five total hits. Inexcusable, fans should hate decisions like that and condemn them soundly.

However, more often than not, there is a method to the madness. Gardy was lambasted for letting Punto keep a starting job in 2008, but Punto proved him correct by hitting .284, getting on base at .344 clip and UZR of 6.8, his career high as a shortstop.

At this point, it should be noted that blindly accepting every decision the team makes is no great act of virtue either, but among serious fans, this is hardly an issue, they are far more likely to deride the "sheeple" of a popular blog's comment thread.

Objectivity is important, but some things really are objectively good.

It's all well and good to dissect Tim Lincecum's motion or the way Stephen Strasburg loads his elbow, but if you're taking the position that either pitcher isn't that good, you're wrong.

Lest this reads as a manifesto against discussion or debate, let me offer my assurances: it isn't. Take any viewpoint you want, but research it, understand it, and no matter what I or anyone else says, stand by it.

Just understand this: If the glass is half-full, and someone says so, that doesn't make them some rose-colored glasses wearing know-nothing.

Objectivity can yield a positive or negative viewpoint, and anyone who always takes one side or the other is probably either hiding something or selling something.

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