Monday, August 19, 2013

How Brutal Is The Other Side?

How long, how long will I slide? 

Last week I checked the Yankees' standing in the AL East and in the Wild Card after being pretty tuned out for a week during vacation. I witnessed that they were 10 games out of first in the division and 6 games behind about 5 teams for a Wild Card spot. They've since rattled off some wins and made it a little more interesting, but it was at that point that it hit me: this is what it must feel like every year for a lot of fans across the country.

It's no secret that the Yankees have had a good run of making the playoffs in our lifetime. They've made the playoffs via the AL East division or the Wild Card every year but one since 1995, so I've never known anything other than watching them have a playoff spot locked up or at LEAST being seriously in the hunt this time of year (humble fan brag?). This playoff fringe thing that they're currently on is strange new territory to me, and I have to say I don't like it. But this must be what a lot of fans experience every year, surviving day to day on the playoff fringe, knowing that one bad series sweep could write your season off altogether. This whole thing has really opened up my eyes.

FranT never knew what it was like to hate a team because he was a fan of the oft-hated. I guess it's all about experiencing the other side.

In a recent interview with Esquire, Andy Samberg had the following exchange with writer Scott Raab: 

AS: No. Berkeley's great, man. I love going home. But it's good to get out and see the other side.
SR: The other side is really important. Just for self-definition.
AS: Young people always ask you for advice and I always say to get out of your comfort zone. Leave where you're from. Get out and experience more of the world.

Of all people, Andy Samberg giving me sage wisdom on the bus ride home from work. I know it's a fundamental experience in life to see things through a different lens, but man, was that ignorance sweet.

Here are some other other sides I've experienced recently, all to the same effect:

The Outside of a Sports Conversation

Regardless of the sport, in a group discussion I normally know at most enough to really participate, or at least enough to follow along and connect the dots. But at a barbecue at my girlfriend's parents house a month ago, somehow between her family and some neighbors there were enough serious soccer fans around to strike up a conversation about the Premier League and the German Bundesliga, and I was utterly lost. They were even sharing stories from trips they'd been on and specific games attended between Bayern Munich and AC Berlin (is that a team?). It wasn't fun, and I mentioned to her that this must be how girls feel all the time when sports talk goes on.

I felt like Derek Zoolander. Who's winning the match? 

After that trip to the dark side, I did what any sane man would do – I brushed up on my soccer knowledge and got on with my life. And the next time a girl is around for a sports discussion, I'll definitely bridge the gap in any way that I can, because that was awful.

Taking Care of a Kid

Last week, I was on vacation with my family on Cape Cod, as we do every year, but this was the first time that my cousin had both of her kids up, 1 and 3 years old, and thus it was the first time I got to spend more than a weekend with them. They are such cute little disasters. And I never even had to babysit alone or anything like that, but there were long stretches where one of the kids was my responsibility. Did you know that 1 year olds cry like all the time? And that 3 year olds only do what they want, and when you try to tell them that the fun is over, they cry worse than the 1 year olds do? I actually really liked it, but it was still all new territory to me. 

And one I'm soon to experience...

Not Knowing a Soul at a Wedding

The #TolanWedding was technically my friends, but really my girlfriend had known alot of my friends (and friends' parents) for a long time already. Over the next year, we have a few weddings where the tables will be turned on me, only in these situations, I literally will only know the bride, the groom, and my GF, and it's not like I'll be hanging out with the first two all that much. I'm really going to try to embrace this particular other side - open bars will help with that learning curve. I'd like to exist right in the middle of Total Recluse and Totally Out There. In other words, I'd like to meet a ton of people and have a great time, but if anyone says "who was that blonde kid dancing on the table??", I think I've embraced the other side a little too much. 

So as nice as it would be to sit in first place or know every person at a wedding, I guess I'll try to embrace each new "other side" that gets thrown my way. But I'm going root pretty hard that the most undesirable of other sides doesn't come my way in October: on the outside of the playoffs looking in. That's one that you never learn to embrace. 

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