If you're anything like us, New Year's Day just hurts: Your head aches, your eyes throb, your gastrointestinal tract feels like someone gave it a once-over with a super-bristly Brillo pad. It's not exactly our favorite morning (okay: mid-afternoon) of the year, is what we're saying...and we're pretty sure we're not alone here, which would certainly explain why people choose today to wax ambitious on the subject of long-runs and life arcs:
There's nowhere to go but up.
When you find yourself waking up two hours before dinner with bile on your breath and a drum line in your skull, change might not be such a terrible thing...
We've never been too friendly to the fantasy crowd in this space, and here's the rub: It's just...so...pointless. And yes, okay, to each his own, and that whole rag...but lame is lame, Meat, and pretending otherwise don't make a lick of difference. Now, is it true that fantasy leagues add an element of intrigue to sports fandom? Yes, of course. But is it also true that said element of intrigue is wholly unrelated to the essence of fandom itself—that whatever fantasy contributes to the spectating experience is a thing which ultimately detracts from the ineffable aesthetic appeal of the games as they actually are? Damn straight it is. So go ahead and dork yourself out, if you really want to, but remember that there's a fine line between being a fan and turning the sports world into your own personal "Dungeons and Dragons" farce...and that Krusk the Barbarian would wipe the floor with your starting tailback eight days a week.
Number Four: Boycott Rick Reilly
And Skip Bayless and Gene Wojciechowski and any other number of mainsteam hack icons whose notoriety owes more to manufactured corporate hype than it does to any discernible store of genuine talent. Reilly gets the top billing here because he is, by far, the worst offender of the bunch: a way-too-complacent fat cat who's apparently content to ride a tired and aimless shtick into the long cool night of oblivion. Godspeed, Rick. We'll be waiting with bated breath for your next tome on the lost art of the underhand free throw. (And, as an aside, we'd add "spend more time reading BleacherReport.com" as a corollary here...if only the market on tired and aimless shticks hadn't already been so expertly cornered by our very own Ryan Alberti. Back us up here, Boss Cottage—we're only just saying, is all...)
Number Three: Root for the Home Team...Even If They Stink
War, famine, Nancy Grace—the world has enough malignancy in it for ours and the next ten generations...the last thing it needs is the negative energy of a hundred million disaffected sports fans. And hey: We know. We know how it feels when .500 ain't nothing but a rumor. We know that it's hard; we know that it hurts; we know that getting your heart stomped on year-in and year-out is hardly the most effective way to build self-esteem. But here's the thing Meat: We also know that booing doesn't make it any better. As man thinks so he is, after all—and anyone who devotes even a hint of psychic ardor to ripping the local side is bound to drag himself down in the process. So sack up, is our charge to you, and let the losers know you still love 'em. Lord knows the incompetent bastards could use a little cheering up...
Number Two: Get Over Barry Bonds
Outraged and indignant is no way to go through life—especially when He Who Has Engendered the Outrage and Indignation has no idea you exist. We're not saying you've got to love Barry Bonds. Hell, we're not even saying you've to like him or support him or in any way acknowledge his existence as a sentient being on this our planet Earth. But just don't, Meat: Don't spend 2007 ranting about asterisks and cap sizes; don't waste another year railing against iniquities that speak to nothing so pointedly as the grossly outsized egoism of a sad and singular and so very solitary man. Barry's just Barry, in the end, and your loathing isn't going to do a damned thing to change him...at least nothing that a good long stint in the federal pen wouldn't do more effectively. Due process, you know?: Just give her time, Meat. Just give her time.
A simple truth to round out the week: There's no experience like actual experience. If that needs explaining, well—if that needs explaining you're probably too far gone for saving...but we will say that doing the fan thing makes it easy to forget, sometimes: easy to forget that real life is in the doing, not the watching; easy to forget that all the couch hours in the world can only ever pale next to a single instant of stripped-naked is-ness. So get out there in 2007 and play the games yourself, because no one else can do it for you and he who spends his days in the cheap seats is he who quite literally doesn't know what he's missing. Which sure we know isn't exactly the most novel exhortation in the history of New Year's resolutions, but really Meat cut us some slack, would ya?:
It's January 1st, and the year has already seen us leave half a lung in the toilet bowl. Come back tomorrow and we'll have something more edifying for you...