Ah, September. Pennant races are heating up, weather is cooling down, rosters are expanded. You’re following every game, not even just your own team, but teams that stand in the way of your playoff chances. You steal somebody else’s picture of a Wendy’s frosty so you can trick MLB.TV into giving you a free subscription (just me?). “Every game matters” is no longer just an MLB marketing slogan, but a way of life.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t have any friends. Baseball is the only topic of conversation you can hold your own in, and it’s fleeting! By now, your co-workers interest has turned to the NFL, and the fantasy leagues that accompany it. Water cooler chat is no longer about the baseball team’s daily nuances, but the hope of the new football season. You join the office fantasy league, fumbling your way through the draft, who is Eddie Lacy? Can I draft the Royals defense? You’re constantly under fear that you will be uncovered as an impostor. Not a cool, normal, fun-loving all around sports guy, but a nerdy baseball guy.
Rogers Hornsby famously said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Rogers Hornsby obviously didn’t have a father-in-law. Thanksgiving, Christmas, football is on the TV. The Lions are up in the third quarter and you’re still thinking about J.D. Martinez‘s pinch-hit home run from August. What is a baseball fan to talk about from November to March?
Don’t fear, young grasshoppers. I present to you, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Normalized Baseball Fans.
- Be Proactive. This is the most important step. You can’t fall behind if you hope to get an invite to Jeff’s annual Super Bowl party. Make sure to wake up early on Monday to watch highlights and make notes. Remember, this is not about being yourself, but changing yourself to fit into mainstream society.
- Begin with the End in Mind. Envision you and all your new friends celebrating at Jeff’s Super Bowl party, as you drop casual spring training mentions. You are finally accepted into society. No longer a nerd but just one of the guys. This is what you have always wanted.
- Put First Things First. It’s important to keep your priorities straight. Remember that football is the most “normal guy” sport there is. Don’t try to get cute and start talking about a sabermetrics basketball article you read on Fivethirtyeight. Hockey absolutely does not matter until the playoffs, so don’t waste your time or energy on it. We’re trying to get you more friends, not lose you 40 IQ points.
- Think Win-Win. Think of conversations that will benefit both parties. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are good places to start. Go to Tim Tebow if you have to. In a pinch, memorize D.J. Dozier‘s Wikipedia page.
- Think to Understand, then to be Understood. This is clutch — only after you can name four members of your local football team’s offensive line should you bring up your baseball team’s offseason moves. The hot stove is heating up, and this year you have real friends to talk about the trades and signings, no longer banished to the Baseball Essential comment sections. Don’t mess this up.
- Synergize. Gather a small group of other hardcore baseball fans as the World Series is wrapping up. Not as friends, but as trusted consultants to help each other assimilate into society. Trade best practices, share horror stories of bringing up FIP after too many beers.
- Sharpen the Saw. Stephen Covey defines this step as the following: “Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle.” Now listen up. If all else fails, just spend the whole winter lifting weights as your ultimate alpha backup plan. When things are really getting into the weeds (i.e., Le’Veon Bell), you should have your lifting numbers ready to go. “The Bears could really benefit from running a nickel defense.” “For sure. Also, I hit a new PR on my squat, I’m at 240 now. How about you?” By January you’ll be so full of testosterone that you will actually start to enjoy football. Come March, Carlos Beltran will be telling the press he’s in the best shape of his life, but you actually will be.