Last night I started to watch the ballgame when it started, a little after 6 PM. I was already cooking because of what happened the game before. Boonie was trying to pull a fast one, starting a rookie right-hander to fix the Rays lineup. Then he brought in Happ to start the second inning. Happ is a lanky left-hander. I only learned after the game that Happ didn't know in advance that he was going to be used in this role. I'm sure he was warmed up when he entered the game, but he likely wasn't mentally prepared. He didn't pitch well and the Yankees lost the game as a consequence.
There is an entire literature in economics about punting versus going for it on 4th down in football. The analytics show that coaches don't go for it enough. But, there is also the issue of what one communicates when taking a risk like this. Some years ago I had done a theoretical analysis of risk preference comparing favorites and underdogs. (Part of this was to demonstrate using a Tablet PC for doing the type of math that certain professors favor.) The analysis showed that favorites are risk averse while underdogs are risk seeking. (Or, at least, they should behave that way.) By taking a risk like this early in the ballgame, Boonie was implicitly telling his guys that they were the underdogs. Yet, the announcers kept saying that now that the Yankees had all their guys healthy, they were a formidable team. Which was it?
Surprise in sports, cooked up by the manager or the head coach, might be applauded. Thoughts turn to Sean Payton's decision in the Super Bowl to have an on-side kick to start the second half. In that case the Saints recovered the ball and ultimately won the game. But the players need to execute. I was angry at Boonie for doing this is in such a half-assed way. I started watching the game last night already angry. Then, after Tanaka was pulled, after the Yankees had fallen behind, they put in Chad Green for middle relief. That's normal, part of the Yankees pattern. Green had a batter 0-2, but instead of making a waste pitch, which is also normal, he throws a pitch that catches too much of the plate. The batter hits a home run. I know that sometimes pitchers don't hit their spot. Tanaka was missing a lot earlier. But this mistake was too much for me. I got very pissed off and turned off the TV after that.
My wife and son were watching the debate downstairs. I didn't join them. I didn't need anything else to raise my blood pressure even more. So I went to sleep early. Now I'm wondering if I'll watch the game tonight and if I can do so and enjoy it, regardless of the outcome.
Baseball is our national pastime. Being a fan is supposed to be a fun thing. Yet like all team sports, it is inherently a zero-sum game. One team wins, the other loses. Can there be joy in watching your team lose? I think there can be, if they compete and give a good performance. But that wasn't my mindset yesterday. I've been so angry as of late, about the mishandling of the pandemic and our national politics, I felt I needed not just a diversion from that. I needed a real pick-me-up. I didn't get that. Instead, my recreation became another source for my anger to manifest.
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In my previous post entitled, Honor Among Thieves And Among Supreme Court Justices, I wrote the following paragraph.
I'm not a lawyer, so please don't take my word for it, but it seems to
me that by Trump not releasing his tax returns during the 2016 campaign
constitutes fraud and, if so, the election should be nullified for that
reason. I have previously argued that the election was stolen. Mitch
McConnell not having the Senate take up President Obama's nomination of
Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court was the main transgression, but
Russian interference in the election surely counts as well, and the
latter was, of course, tied to Trump trying to manipulate the outcome.
In retrospect, it is obscene to recall the chants of "crooked Hillary."
To borrow part of a line from Abraham Lincoln, you can fool some of the
people some of the time. Who will now be shouting "crooked Donald?"
I've been cooking on the idea that the election has been stolen for the last four years. That Trump committed fraud during the election also seems quite evident, the not releasing his tax returns but one example. My previous post examined the question - suppose serious people agreed with this whether conservative or liberal. What should then happen? That the Republicans act as if there was no malfeasance here I find truly infuriating. If that were understood and if those Justices appointed by Trump shared with Biden the desire to bring the country together, they would step down. Evidently, however, that is wishful thinking.
So, in my anger, I imagine myself as Biden, after he has become President. He informs the Justices (Gorsuch and Cavanaugh and also Barrett if she gets through the process before the inauguration) that they will be detained indefinitely unless they resign. This would be done to right a previous wrong. It wouldn't be done to tilt the court to the left. I can imagine, as President, that ignoring this would constitute a threat to our national security. We are being destroyed from within. This is what would justify detaining these Justices.
Of course, I don't expect this to happen. It's a fantasy, nothing more. But that it won't happen means I'll remain angry, even if the Democrats sweep into office. The Democrats will have seemed to capitulate in that case. There is so much discussion about the left versus the center among the Democrats. I wonder if there should be less of that and more of the very angry supporters who want to get even with the Republicans versus the happy supporters, if and when the Democrats do sweep into office, who want to wipe the slate clean and begin anew.
* * * * *
I have been wondering about an imagined conversation with regular Fox News viewers who are strong Trump supporters, that they are being played by the Republican Party and the rich donors who are the beneficiaries of how Republicans go about things (think tax cuts). Recently, Michelle Goldberg had an interesting column about denial and confirmation bias. She pointed out just how easy it seems to be to avoid evidence that contradicts one's worldview. So I started to wonder what might counter that avoidance and shake things up for typical Trump supporters.
Alas, I came to a snag in my own thinking. I thought a collective viewing of The Ox-Bow Incident might be helpful here. A quick synopsis of the story is that an angry mob, quite sure of themselves, end up hanging innocent men. Later the facts come out. One of the leaders of the mob can't deal with that and commits suicide. If there were a way to make Trump supporters aware that they have been played by Fox News, would they then be in the same position as this angry mob leader? One might hope that they'd manage it better, but should one expect that?
It then occurred to me that many veterans of the Iraq War came home with PTSD and committed suicide. Let's also recall that the military is all-volunteer these days. We got rid of the draft after the Vietnam War. If you volunteer but then discover you've been sold a bill of goods, there must be a lot of anger. I can't know why any one individual commits suicide, but I suspect it is ongoing anger that has no form of resolution, something that might make things better. If that's right, who are we to say that Fox News viewers need to stop deluding themselves?
I wish I had an answer to that, but I don't.
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In early 2018 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and subsequently received radiation treatment for it. The cancer is in remission now and is monitored every there months with a PSA test. So far, so good.
I learned a few things during that episode. One is that prostate cancer is itself very slow growing and is eminently treatable. Nonetheless, it does play with your mind. The fear I had (and still have) is that the cancer would spread elsewhere, to a location where it is not so treatable.
When I talk about anger as a form of cancer, I'm talking about the fear that the anger will spread and eventually totally engulf the person. For me, I know that prolonged anger is the path to depression. I experienced that in adolescence. My current fear is is that I'm back on that path and may lose it entirely. My rationality remains. (I hope this piece seems well reasoned.) But my rational self and my angry self share certain common features. I concoct scenarios to work through what will happen. This is how I come up with ideas to write about. Unfortunately, it is also how I come up with visages where I can express my anger, for example, playing mailbox baseball with the heads of highly elected Republicans. Up to this point for me, the anger exists only in this fantasy-like form of expression. Yet more and more of my time is devoted to this.
If I were an isolated case, this piece would be of hardly any interest, perhaps a curiosity, nothing more. We tend to think of anger of this sort only to be present in the fringes of society. (For part of the time where I've been writing this, my wife has had MSNBC on and I heard in the background about the militia in Michigan who attempted to kidnap the governor.) It may be now, however, that intense anger has become the norm for people in all walks of society.
If so, it surely would be evidence that our society is broken. It's not just Trump. He leveraged what was already there. The way we get our news and opinions about politics is maddening, by design. And that people will push the system further and further for their own advantage is to be expected. This is a vicious downward-descending spiral.
I wish I could say I have an answer, at least at an individual level. I do find writing posts like this somewhat soothing. It's as if much of the bad karma has been expunged, at least temporarily. Yet I fear that too many people don't have any constructive form of release. Then the anger just piles up.
Elsewhere I have written that we tend to solve problems before we understand them and diagnose them. This diagnosis makes sense to me. I wonder how many others would agree. It is not really socially acceptable to admit your anger, at least among certain circles of people. Among my friends in Facebook, for example, it is okay to be very angry with Trump. But if the Democrats do sweep into office and yet my friends remain angry, what then? We're going to need a way to talk about it. And maybe we need to wallow in it for a while. Only then, might there be a realistic solution to find.