Most of us will live our lives in relative anonymity. We’ll work hard, but change jobs more often than we imagine. We’ll have great work go unrecognized, sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad ones. We’ll get away with bad work. We’ll retire, and get a cake and a party, but we won’t get a plaque certifying our excellence. We’ll die, and no one will rename a library or a hospital wing in our honor. If we’re lucky, we’ll leave behind enough family and close friends to have a well-attended funeral and a tree planted in our honor, or something.
It would be horrific, a terrible way to live, to spend our time dwelling on the fact that our lives don’t change the lives of others all that much, that we will almost certainly not achieve any Earthly immortality. We don’t do that. We acknowledge that we have only so much time to appreciate the world, to appreciate each other, and we focus on doing as much as we can while we have breath, be it for one another, or for ourselves, or for God. We’re mortal, and we’re not all that special, but that doesn’t rob our lives of value or meaning.
Except in baseball, that is. One of the things that I both love and hate about sports is that they often invite fans to live vicariously through others. We not only celebrate our team’s wins, and mourn their losses, but also invest ourselves in certain players. I think, on some level, that we hope to grab onto those players’ coattails and ride them to immortality, an immortality within reach for them, thanks to their celebrity, their wealth and the presence of highly-considered awards and a Hall of Fame.
Because of that investment, we feel deeply wronged when the men who sit in judgment of our Herculean surrogates find them lacking, or wrongfully elevate some charlatan above our hero. The players on the field are being denied their medal, or their home on Mt. Olympus, but we feel that exclusion personally.
I’m not going to keep feeling that way. Mike Trout should have won the American League MVP award Thursday night. He should have won it a year ago, too. Instead, for myriad reasons (some perfectly reasonable, some insultingly stupid), Miguel Cabrera won, just as he did a year ago. Trout still has every chance to win MVP awards. He still has a better than 50/50 shot at the Hall of Fame, barring major injury. For now, though, his immortality has been denied, in favor of Cabrera—who’s deserving of this kind of recognition, too, but who in a just world would have had to wait his turn because of Trout’s excellence.
Trout can feel indignant, even angry. Trout can feel ignored, discriminated against, marginalized because of his youth. He can feel any of a number of ways. It’s more than okay. I, however, am no longer going to wring my hands over it when things like this happen. That doesn’t mean allowing the idiots to win the day. I’ll still strive to set the record straight, and to advance the truth about on-field and off-field issues. Trout still had the best two seasons the American League has seen in over a decade. He’s still the best baseball player in the world right now. For my money, Cabrera winning an award Trout deserved doesn’t diminish Trout. I have my own immortality to pursue, and likely not attain, and I have my own wrongs to right and flaws to fix. Mike Trout will make hundreds of millions of dollars in this game. He deserved the MVP award, but he’s on his own.Next post: Brett Jackson and Disillusionment
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