Fandom and Pain
I’ve mentioned a few times here before that I’m a baseball fan, and that my team is the Boston Red Sox. A few years back, I remember getting all excited because they were picking up this killer pitcher that I knew was going to take the team to their third World Series in a decade: John Lackey. He killed it for the Angels, and I was sure that 2011 was going to be the year for the Sox.
At the end of 2011, or somewhere along that line, John Lackey got injured. His start in Boston was rough, and the attention didn’t quite do well for him. But he ended up missing all of 2012 as a result, and if you thought 2011 was a disaster for the Sox, 2012 was much worse.
Up until recently, I never once considered what he was going through mentally in 2011. Forget the issues with adjusting and the city, at some point, he was in pain. I mean, he ended up getting injured, and he pitched every few days so there had to be some kind of lead up to that final moment when it all came crashing down. But I never thought about it. To me, he was the jerk who couldn’t perform in Boston — he wasn’t a person.
We tend to put professional athletes up on a pedestal, and sometimes we think of them as more of a series of statistics than as the people they actually are. Fact is, they are just like us, they just happen to be in a position where their talent pays them an exceptional amount of money in most cases. They can be in pain too.
As for Lackey, he’s doing OK this season. He’s pitched two games (1–1), has a 2.61 ERA and had an injury, but seems to be on the mend. Things aren’t perfect yet, but he should get back into form soon. And if not, this time around I may remember that he’s still a person after all.