I can't believe I care this much. Weeping at the sight of Marco Scutaro as he and his family accept the MVP award for the National League Championship Series? In truth, I've won nothing. I get no trophy, make no money, receive no kudos. No child was born, no lottery won. But I am elated, gleeful, even exhausted by the tingling in my bloodstream. It's a Monday night and I am alive and riveted by what I've been handed. I own the knowledge that we won. My team, my city. And me. We won the National League pennant.
Does this happen to you? Your favorite team wins and your heart and mind react as if you just saw the birth of a calf. Apparently, the diagnosis suggests roots to primitive times when humans lived in small tribes and specific warriors were protectors and defenders of the groups. These men were, "True genetic representatives of their people." Dr. Daniel Wann, a psychologist from Murray State University, says the root of my visceral joy comes from pre-evolved brain-wiring. Hard to believe these warriors of long ago have me sitting inches from the screen as my team pounces on each other under sheets of rain.
It turns out, as a fan, I'm actually looking for a boost -- a primitive and positive kick in the pants. Dr. Wann deduces that our connection to a team lifts depression levels and induces feelings of self worth. It also makes testosterone levels soar after victories; and drop just as sharply after a loss. It's suggested that diehard fans are, "much more optimistic about their sex appeal after a victory." And also more keen in their abilities to perform well on physical tests, like darts. And Scrabble. The study suggests that when a fan's specific team loses, "The optimism evaporates completely."
Now I know why I immediately sprayed cologne on my navel after Scutaro's triumphant words. I was alive, electric, an arm-chair short-stop well into his tickertape strut. I was Marco Scutaro, and Matt Cain, and the Kung-Fu Panda himself, Pablo Sandoval. I was also apparently great at darts and triple word scores in these seconds, and as '70s rock sensation Bad Company put it, "Ready For Love." Too bad I was alone eating Fig Newtons, with only the hum of the dishwasher behind me.
Amazing though. None of the Giants have ever cared much for me. Not one. I think if Hunter Pence knew me he'd really like me. And I know if I was alone in a ditch, bleeding, and Buster Posey happened by, he'd be great about it, and get me to the hospital. But let's face it. Fans like you and me have empathy and true caring for players who wouldn't flinch if we struck out, tripped, or even croaked tomorrow. This is an emotionally disproportionate relationship. There are strangers out there with the power to stir our testosterone levels. Through our televisions.
I feel a bit used.
That said, I plan to take charge of my emotions during the 2012 World Series. If the Giants lose to the Detroit Tigers I plan to be calm, collected and grateful for the spectacle, the thrilling comebacks, the journey thus far. Anything to gain sole control of my dejection, depression and testosterone levels. I can't have a simple child's game like baseball dictating when or how well I perform carnally. Whichever squad takes the ring, has earned it. All rational people can grasp that there must be a silver medal, a second place. And if my team ends up a smidgen behind the Tigers this week, I'll do all that I can to retain my personal dignity. But then again a loss will destroy my hopes for a win.
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