The World Series ended Tuesday night with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first title since 1988. Looking back at the Series, it’s safe to say that Game 4 between the Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays will be the game to remember.
The Dodgers were leading going into the 9th inning, 7-6. With runners on first and second, Rays’ journeyman Brett Phillips came to the plate to face Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
Battling at the plate, Phillips made contact on a pitch, and ridiculousness ensued.
As the ball reached outfielder Chris Taylor, he made an error when he attempted to secure the ball. One runner scored, and Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena was running with a purpose. When he rounded third, the ball was thrown home and it looked like he was going to get caught in a rundown. However, the ball got past the catcher and Arozarena slid home. The Rays managed to grab the lead and never looked back, and managed to tie the Series.
Games like this make the typical baseball fan ask themselves: How can you not be romantic about baseball? However, what came after the game was ugly, not romantic.
Fans went to social media to express their frustrations, and some even went to Jansen’s Instagram page to show their dismay. Littered throughout were negative comments, ill wishes toward his loved ones, even death threats. Why?
I understand the passion that runs deeply through the veins of each fanbase in every sport. Fans want to see their team labeled the best team in the league. I can’t help but be empathetic toward Dodgers fans after Game 4. This was their third World Series in the past four years. And the last two times they were in the World Series they were up against two teams (Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox) that were proven to have cheated in the sign-stealing scandal.
But to wish so much harm to one man is something I can’t fathom.
I know that people struggle to be empathetic toward professional athletes for how many commas and zeros they may have in their bank accounts. However, at the end of the day they make their money playing a game.
As fans I feel like we lose sight of that word. Sports are a game. Even the biggest events — the World Series, Super Bowl and the NBA Finals — they are still just playing a game. When the last out is made or when the clock ticks down to zero, we go back to our regular day-to-day routines, and reflect back on the victory or what could have been.
So where do we draw the line? Often in big games, it is easy to find a scapegoat when things go wrong. But to put sole blame on Jansen in this scenario isn’t fair. Taylor did bobble the ball on what would have been a routine single. And even after the errors, the Dodgers were only down by one run with another chance at the plate. They could have tied or won the game.
Let’s stick to venting our frustration during the game. Frustration comes with the territory when it comes to rooting for a team. However, to wish harm to a player’s children is ruthless and proves that some people overlook that professional athletes aren’t so different from the rest of us once they take off their uniforms and head home.
They are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. Kenley Jansen may throw the ball for a living, but at the end of the day he probably enjoys being a father to his daughter and two sons a whole lot more.
As fans, we enjoy the fulfillment that each sport we love gives to our daily lives. Though it can cause a wide range of negative emotions, to wish harm to a professional athlete is disappointing.
Will those wishes cease to exist? No, I don’t think so.
But let’s continue to enjoy the sports we love and root for the teams we love without resorting to nasty personal comments after the game.