It has been a tumultuous time. Not only was Fanfest cancelled, but Apple left Macworld. I have some very deep (i.e., boring to you, but you know how to scroll, so quit whining, I only post twice a year) things to say about this, but first, let us clear our minds with the following:
Q: CONAN! What is good in life?
(Really, go watch it.)
My first reaction was to flinch in horror, then embarrassment. The internet has trained us to be sent links to unreflective idiots on Youtube that we are expected to feel contempt for. But, soon came the realization that these are not stupid people, they know they are going to look ridiculous, you can see a few of them cracking up as they go. There is no chance anyone will think they are hip. So why do it? As they put it, and I believe it, it's a way to try to connect to generations well after their time, and to provoke strong reactions and conversation. The world is passing them by, and instead of refusing to see the change, they stick their heads out the window. So my reaction to the clip now is still a bit of horror, but also a lot of respect for the guts it took to make that and share it out.
Now, Apple had a very long tradition of being a spectacle at Macworld, particularly the Jobs keynote. The loss of this tradition is a matter of indifference to most people, but to serious Appleheads, there is a sense of nostalgia and that the world is changing in scary ways. But Apple, A.J.R. (After Jobs's Return), has been a company that has made unusual, risky, tradition-wrecking corporate moves. This was the only way that a company on the brink of doom, a huge underdog, could survive and thrive. As Gruber says, Apple not only broke industry traditions, but seemed to go out of its way to break their own traditions.
Actually, when I was a pup, I had an Apple //e, a spectacular computer and perhaps the last, best computer which an geeky owner might be able to say they understood EVERYTHING about it, from machine language to the chips on the motherboard. I loved that computer. And Apple went out of its way to smash that tradition with the incompatible Mac. At the time (80s) I was fairly bitter about it and it took me many years to come around to buying my first Mac. But the products were compelling, so I caved in.
3. The Point, And I Do Have One
Now my point, and I do have one, is that the A's are similar in certain but not all ways. They are the plucky underdogs, they defy tradition and conventional wisdom and keep looking for the next edge. They toss aside the fan favorites out of cold numerical assessment, they swap away players at the hint of an inefficiency to exploit, they close the upper deck that has so many nice memories. And now they are scrapping Fanfest, which in all likelihood was NOT getting them any bump in tickets sold, and was a pain in the butt to put on. I feel uneasy at the change, but in reality, I never enjoyed Fanfest as much as I wanted to. The Q&A could never address anything meaty, and everything else was kind of a muddle. I do have a memory (was this a Fanfest?) of coming out of a theater (Paramount?) and seeing Macha handing me an A's DVD. I had a split second of wanting to find something clever or probing to say to him, but then I was quickly pushed out onto the street.
But here is the difference. Apple thrives by getting people to want to buy a product and to love it for its design, effectiveness or fashion. And viewed clinically, the A's do too. They thrive when people come to love their product: their players. The difference is that you get to keep your iPhone and cuddle it to sleep; you don't get to keep your shiny new Nick Swisher and his pointing up to his grandma, he gets traded as soon as possible. You don't keep your Haren and Harden. Even your misfit toys like Hatty and Marco are left behind. You get left with Bobby Crosby's ass, whose efforts you eye with contempt like some pathetic unreflective Youtube star's.
You know, people say you should root for the laundry, but that's idiotic. (Go rinse cycle, go go!) Sports is about emotional connections to people that you like striving under pressure and duress. When Marco Scutaro had another of his unlikely game-winning hits, it meant so much more, watching his struggle and blossom as a utility player (and it goes into another dimension if you've seen Player to Be Named Later). When Huddy outdueled Pedro, it felt extra good because you saw him come up and grow through the years. When Kendall kept on making those crazy painful suicidal plays, it meant more because you'd gotten to know him. When Hatty got that gamewinner off K-Rod, it meant so much more because it was Dad and it was dor-K.
I know the numbers pretty well that are driving the decisions. I know the A's are setting themselves up quite well for a long run in 2010 (with possible bonus play next year). Anyone who's seen my mathy posts in the past knows I don't think that Joe Morgan is right about the Enrons and nasty computers. But I feel for him, because I grew up in the 70s watching that brand of baseball. Where people didn't get paid ungodly sums (however deserved) and free agency and payroll differences didn't SEEM to shred teams of their identity. We miss what we think we remember about those times, when hustle counted and clever managing won games, not getting on base and waiting for the long ball.
I've been wrestling a bit with my relative indifference to the A's this year. I still want them to succeed, and I'm curious about the new players. But you know, I'd really just gotten to know my old players from the last ten years! And it makes it worse to come to AN and catch up, because my eye is drawn to the people that I know here from that time (how could I have missed Sal's dogsled manhunt for Thunderbutt?), and I think about the games and events we shared from that time (all those listed above). I can never forget coming to AN to process with others Kendall's Tag and reading McFood rambling about huge brass balls. I guess it's in the archives. And I don't care if it's good or bad for the team... I miss those players and I want them back, and I'm emotionally exhausted from caring for too many players in too short a time. I do find myself rooting for laundry this year and, well, it's hard to be too invested in how clothing performs.
So many of these kinds of posts are passive-aggressive bargaining ploys. "I won't support the A's anymore unless they change!" This isn't one of those. I understand why the A's are moving as they're moving. In fact, they'll be moving to Fremont, or San Jose, or Portland or Las Vegas soon. And maybe they'll be able to hang on to some players that we like. I know it's nothing personal: they did a cost-benefit analysis and it so happens I'm part of the cost.
We'll always have the archives. Until the New Depression takes the servers offline.
yours fruitfully, Apricot