Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Congratulate me. (I guess it was the 10th man.)

For days now, here in the extended Philadelphia area, I've been hearing all the usual Sportsthink-y blather about how the Phillies will have "the 10th man on their side," meaning the local fans, since the Phils have hometown advantage in their endeavor to get past the Rockies in the first round of baseball's playoffs. The conventional wisdom is that the fans give you that extra emotional kick you need to transcend your customary level of physical skill. Fair enough. I don't buy it, but fair enough. So just for the sake of argument, let's concede that a phenomenon known as the "10th man" (or 12th man, in football, or 6th man, in basketball*) exists.

I'm watching the Detroit-Minnesota one-game playoff as I write this. The Tigers' young phenom, Rick Porcello, is dominating the Twins, striking out bat
ter after batter. How does announcer Ron Darling explain this? It's "that extra adrenaline flowing here in the Metrodome" that apparently has energized the Tiger hurler.

Now, the Metrodome, unless I'm mistaken, is the Twins' home ballpark. So it appears that in this case, at least according to Ron Darling's analysis, the vaunted 10th man is now playing for the visiting team.

Which brings me back to my oft-made point: If we can't say precisely how these emotional factors figure in the outcome of a game
, or who they favor and why, or under what circumstances, then what's the point of even talking about them?


Below, as it happens, is a photo of my 10 men, which in this context refers to the guys who actually went out there and gave it their all in helping us win the league championship in our age division. A great way to end a very rainy season, let me tell you...though now I begin to feel the full weight of the emotions described in that lachrymal ode to my beloved sport.

* Technically, in basketball, the term "sixth man" is most often used in referring to an extremely valuable substitute player who can be counted on to come off the bench and give the team a much-needed shot in the arm. John Havlicek was the prototype for the breed.


Anonymous said...

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.


Steve Salerno said...

I'd say it's more hotdogs and fastballs right down the middle...

Elizabeth said...

This picture is so... happy, Steve.:)

(No, I'm not sarcastic; it really is a happy picture -- so hopeful, somehow.)

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: You know what's funny? You almost sound shocked that I might be associated with anything happy or hopeful. :)

Elizabeth said...

I know, Steve. I'm sorry about it. I did not mean it to come out this way, though I suspected it would, but had no better way of expressing it.

There is just something touching about it, you know -- and that's not something I usually see in "sport" pictures (not that I have any extensive experience examining those). A sense of hope and optimism and, dare I say, acceptance beaming from those faces.

Yeah, I guess I am surprised, LOL. I don't often see that.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Steve, you are the "11th man" for the Phillies, not the "10th man". And the 11th man has a very distinct job: and that is to stay away from the 10th man for the rest of the season.

Thus, you are hereby instructed to stay clear of all Phillies games, crowds or fans for the rest of the season. You have received the Steve Bartman exile sentence.

Elizabeth said...

BTW, Steve, this is totally unrelated (sorry!), but check out my blog for this head-turning story (not that I discovered it, mind you, but you may as well start there). Apparently, the Bible is not conservative enough.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, at the risk of digging an even deeper and more embarrassing hole for myself with the attempt at an explanation: the picture is unusual, to me, in that it shows a group of mature men, many of whom, if not all, have had their share of problems and tragedies in life, engaged in a group non-commercial activity that just brings them joy.

We (or I, perhaps) do not often, if ever, see mature men portrayed this way. And this is obviously a spontaneous photo, not a staged pic taken for advertising purposes. I don't care much about sports, but this photo tells me that (don't throw things at me, please) they are not a total waste of time (hold that flower pot!)

OK, I'ma stop now, before heavy syrup starts trickling down your computer screens and heavier objects fly in my direction.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz: The lady doth protest too much? ;)

You know, I thought nothing of it in the first place. But your final clarification is worthy in its own right.

Dimension Skipper said...

Maybe Big Nate needs a better 10th man?


Markus said...

Steve, are all these asterisks really necessary? It seems like most of your posts have at least one.

Maybe you could use parentheses instead? Then we won't have to keep scrolling down then back up again.

Steve Salerno said...

Markus: I'll certainly take it under advisement. I've had people get on me, too, about my over-reliance on dashes/parenthetical thoughts, which make the sentence structure needlessly complex.

Maybe I just need to learn to write better. :)