William (not the stats guy) James and Baseball

I guess being a fan, that is, a fanatic, is in some ways much like having a religious faith. It's a common notion, even a cliché because often when invoked the analogy serves nothing more than to emphasize zealous devotion. But the comparison can be more interesting: fans implicate themselves emotionally (like small children? older children showing arrested development?) with a group in whose activities they have no part. (Well, in fact, I guess by showing enthusiastic support at a sports venue, sometimes fans can, in fact, impact the outcome, but if we're talking about baseball that is rarely the case.)  Fans care deeply about people they don't know personally. (Yes, there are exceptions). If the team screws up the fan may feel screwed. These are not all-powerful gods, so it's a very curious faith indeed. The willful submission to irrational behavior is fascinating, strange, sometimes depressing. (Fans, do you think the players care about you?) But also quite endearing. After all, we are familiar with the studies that suggest faith is good for your health. I chose the easier path: faith in baseball itself. And this seems to get me closer to that all-powerful god idea. The game never fails to provide transcendence.  I'm always waiting for that never-ending game, but meanwhile, the games we do have occasionally provide such unlikely and dramatic narratives they make me ask to which of James' varieties of religious experience they pertain.

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