Comment of the Day: “Schadenfreude, Ethics, and Those Fanatics Inside Us All”

Maybe "The Broadcaster" was all Harry had inside...

Rick elaborates nicely on the theme of my post on handling those fanatic personas that reside in each of us, and in the process takes the ethical measure of an iconic baseball broadcaster whose charms always escaped me…the late Harry Carey.

“It strikes me that there’s another part of the equation, which you only hint at here, but which you have mentioned in other posts. That’s the “ethics alarm” (to coin a phrase) that goes off, or should, when the director or the Red Sox fan or whoever That Guy is says or does something unethical. Part of it is “heat of the moment” stuff: the egoism that slips out in a moment of excitement. No, of course you didn’t want Thurman Munson to die, but yes, he did play for the hated Yankees, and their team just got worse. You’re forgiven the fist-pump. Once. And provided you (Jack, as opposed to Red Sox fan) didn’t mean it.

“I was watching a Cubs game on WGN sometime in the mid-1980s when news came over the wire that Montreal Expos infielder Hubie Brooks had suffered a season-ending injury. Brooks had been a favorite of mine when he’d played for the Mets (“my team”), and I continued to follow his career with some interest, so the news was doubly sad for me: a player had been seriously injured, and that player was Hubie Brooks.

“In contrast, Cubs announcer Harry Carey proclaimed “well, if it helps the Cubs win, it’s OK by me.” I remember the exact words 25 years later. What struck me was not that they were uttered, but that no one—not Carey himself, not his broadcast partner, no one—made the slightest attempt to walk them back. That was the official verdict: a season-ending injury (Brooks was never the same again, by the way) was a good thing if it happened to somebody in a different uniform. I mentioned the incident to a couple of friends—Cubs fans—and they laughed and said “oh, that’s Harry.”

“Everyone understood that Carey was a Cubs fan first and an announcer second. That was, I am told, part of his charm—I never saw it, but others did. Still, I was sort of hoping that there would be a human being in there somewhere. On that particular day, at least, I was disappointed. We lived in WGN country for another seven years. I never watched another Cubs game without turning off the sound.”

3 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Schadenfreude, Ethics, and Those Fanatics Inside Us All”

    • Wait! I DO have something to add!

      My former boss was a Yankees and Giants fan, surrounded by Pats and Red Sox fans (it IS New England). He loved to mock people when the Pats or Sox lost, but once when I asked him “How’d the Yanks do last night?” when they got crushed 11-not much, he was defensive. “What, you’re gonna act like you know me?” or something to that extent (We’d been working together for five years or so at this point, if I knew the exact game I was referring to, I could be more specific. I forget if the Sox did the crushing.)

      After Tom Brady hurt his knee at the start of the 2008 (?) season, he sent a text to one of this subordinates (Another manager) and apparently some other Pats fans that read, “Where’s your perfect season now?”

      He’s a jerk. I am very happy that he is part of my past.

  1. No real comment. It’s a “game,” for God’s sake.

    We pick our faves, are loyal to them (to a fault), and enjoy our summers (with baseball, anyway). I admit that life would be diminished without DirectTV’s nightly NESN Red Sox game, but come on, who said what about who is not part of my enjoyment.

    Chill out.

    P.S. It’s an athletic profession. Drugs notwithstanding, injuries are a prima facie fact, so get used to it.

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