Friday, April 07, 2006

Schadenfreude

Main Entry: scha·den·freu·de
Pronunciation: 'shä-d&n-"froi-d&
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Schaden damage + Freude joy: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others


So far, the team looks as bad as it has ever looked. The lower minor leagues are in disarray. The key player given away in the Rule Five debacle a few years ago has hit four homers so far this year. The owner, seemingly oblivious to the team's ineptitude on the field, has rewarded his general manager by tacking on another year to his contract. To safeguard its public relations, the team went out and wasted money this spring on three overpriced veterans who are no longer as good as they once were, hoping that this would create the perception among the populace that the team is making a good-faith effort to improve performance. The PR tactic has worked spectacularly well, and the team has sold 11,000 season tickets. Rumors that the owners plan to sell the team appear to have been false. There is no end in sight to the misery, and all hope is lost.

Under these circumstances, schadenfreude sometimes seems the only consolation. But enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others means, in this case, rooting against the team--taking joy in their failures. And for a baseball fan to root against their team is an abomination. It would be nobler to root for another team or find another obsession.

You could make a case that the best thing for the team in the long run would be not another 65-to-75-win season, but a season like the one the Royals had last year: abject failure, embarrassment, and mayhem. After such a season, PR would no longer be effective, and the team would have no choice but to face its failures and change the way it operates. Like alcoholism--you don't begin to get better until you fully admit and face the problem. We are powerless over baseball, and our lives have become unmanageable.

But that's the dilemma--I can't quite bring myself to actively hope for the Pirates failure. So I keep my schadenfreude to myself mostly, and am somewhat ashamed of it.

3 Comments:

Blogger Tom Bache said...

You forgot to include giving a 2 year, $6.5 million contract to a mid thirties middle reliever. That's a good way to spend your money!

11:51 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

Yep.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Hey, I love the picture on your banner. Go Twins!

8:51 PM  

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