The New York Yankees, my favorite baseball team, played the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night. ESPN broadcast the game. I remember seeing the two teams were on TV and thinking, “Ugh. Not again.”
The Sunday game was only the fourth time they played this season. They’re scheduled to play 19 times. But I am already tired of the Yankees and the Red Sox. And it is only April 13.
This exhaustion is not really the fault of the baseball clubs. They have a schedule. They play it. It’s the hype machine. Whether it’s ESPN or Fox or the MLB Network or whoever is putting the game on TV, the hype machine tries to pretend every meeting between the two teams is another historic clash in an ageless battle.
Sure, both teams have great histories. And they’ve played a lot of interesting baseball games through the course of baseball history. But not every game is meaningful. Most of the games, in fact, are not meaningful, especially in April. That’s the point of baseball. It has no point. It’s a distraction, a pastime. It’s supposed to be fun.
But fun is not enough for the hype machine. It must be epic. There must be storylines and grudges and emotions running high and bulletin board material and tabloid headlines and, of course, tweets, always with the damned tweets.
It’s not just baseball. I was tired of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament a month before it started. I was sick of brackets and bubble teams in February. By the time the tournament actually started, I got angry when anybody mentioned office pools or used the word “busted” to describe their bracket predictions.
I don’t know what happened to me. I liked the NCAA basketball tournament as a kid. I liked the fact that there were teams in the tournament I had never heard of. I would always pick them to win a couple games. Why not them?
Now, though, every team in the country is obsessively scouted. I didn’t even know the mascot of most of the teams not from the Midwest. Now you’ve got “advanced statistics,” whatever the hell that means, on every player down to the student manager’s ability to hand out sports drink in late game pressure situations with less than 2 minutes on the clock.
I don’t care how the network’s panel of experts filled out their brackets. They will play the games and then we will know the actual answer.
I’ve heard so much about that former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and whether he will be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft that I hope the he is picked dead last and the commentators get laryngitis from shouting about it all day long.
It isn’t just sports. It’s everything. During the basketball tournament, CBS promoted the series finale of “How I Met Your Mother” so much that I went from never having watched an episode to actively resenting the show ever having been on the air.
Some of this, of course, is my own jangled nerves. I waited two years to see the movie “Pulp Fiction” because I was so tired of everyone telling me how great it was. That movie came out in 1995, just seconds after the Internet as we know it came into being. If that movie happened today, I probably would never see it just on principle.
All the cable TV news channels hype every story as if ragnarok was upon us. But they don’t know anything. They just keep repeating the same four paragraphs of facts (and many times rumors) while they call in “experts” to say what they think might have happened.
A buddy and I went to a classy restaurant in a northwest Des Moines neighborhood this weekend. At the bottom of the menu, they had a sign that said “Like us on Facebook.” I grimaced.
What they were really doing is asking me to advertise for them. The thing is, this was a nice restaurant. They don’t need my “like” on Facebook. They’ve been around for years. It’s one of the nicest places in town.
I eat lunch at a Mexican restaurant downtown. You can get 10 percent off your bill if you “check in” at the restaurant on Facebook. I just pay the extra dollar. The world doesn’t need to know where I’m eating, what I’m eating or whether I liked it.
This probably sounds hypocritical from a guy who writes a blog and works at a paragraph factory, but social media is just part of the hype machine, maybe it’s noisiest and stupidest sprocket. It’s no different than professional babblers making too big a deal about a baseball game in April or the finale of a TV series.
Everywhere we look, the world is shouting at us to care — no, more than that — to be relentlessly obsessive about everything. The problem is, there’s no context. It’s nearly impossible to tell what’s important and what’s nonsense.
When things become that murky, the best advice I can tell you is to regard it all as nonsense.
- 30 -