Fan Misbehavior: What Price Anonymity?


I know it’s frustrating to lose a game, especially when the game is lost in the late innings.  I get that.   What I don’t get is the hatred and vitriol that is spewed on social media by some Cardinals fans whenever one of those frustrating losses occurs.  These fans behave as if it is a personal affront to them, as if the player or players involved messed up on purpose just to ruin things for them.

Apr 12, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals fans play the harmonica in honor of

Stan Musial

during the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Milwaukee 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I have a News Flash for these fans. It’s not about you.

Our Cardinal players work hard at what they do.  They don’t show up to fail and then collect their paycheck.  If they did, they wouldn’t be a Cardinal for long. [Owner] Bill DeWitt is no dummy.  He is not going to continue to pay a player who is not pulling their weight over a long period of time (unless they are injured of course).

Playing Major League Baseball is hard.  Very hard.  That is why we are all spectators.  Yet, some of us behave as if we could do better somehow.  Laughable, I know, but it happens. Many fans also believe they could manage better, or be a better GM.  Again, I scoff.  What we know about Major League Baseball and how it operates is limited.  We don’t know how things are done on a daily basis.  We don’t have a clue how all the individual cogs work in the machine.  We don’t have the information.

Yes, we can have opinions about that player, and that managerial move, and that roster construction.  We can discuss and dissect everything ad infinitum and ad nauseum.  It’s fun, I do it all the time.  What I don’t do is assume I have all the right answers.  I don’t have the information.

So, without the information, what makes some Cardinal fans react to losses in a vile and ugly manner?  It certainly isn’t because they know how to do things better, even if they think they do.  Were they raised improperly?  I can’t speak to that.  Do they need anger management assistance?  Possibly.  Is it the times in which we live?  My answer to that is, quite possibly.

What do I mean?  We live in the age of social media, where people all over the world can interact with each other, sometimes instantaneously over that wonderful Al Gore invention called the internet. (Actually, Gore didn’t invent it, nor did he really claim he did, but I will go with the joke).  Much of that social media can be used anonymously if the user chooses. Where there is anonymity there is lack of inhibition.  The anonymous feel free to express themselves in a manner that they most likely wouldn’t otherwise, if their identity were known. Seriously, would anyone in their right mind say “I hate you, please go kill yourself” to Mitchell Boggs in person?  Really?

The anonymity allows those who were raised improperly, or do have anger issues, or have some other fault of character to freely express emotions that society looks upon as inappropriate.  Bad manners run amok.  It’s a shame, because with that freedom in anonymity comes the ability to hurt others.  And in my experience, hurting others can come back to bite you.

We should all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Ancient words of wisdom to live by.  When you treat others badly, don’t expect anything other than bad treatment in return.  Another truism to heed:  You reap what you sow.  Sowing those bad seeds will get you every time.

No doubt some who read this will react with “How dare you tell me what to do?”  Telling you what to do suggests that I have some control over your behavior, which obviously I don’t.  I am merely suggesting that if you behave in this manner after a loss you will likely come to regret it later, either through the overwhelming condemnation of your peers, or the actions of an angry Universe. Just saying.

So the moral of this sermon is this.  Don’t say anything about another person that you wouldn’t want said to you.  Baseball players are people with feelings too, and the right to receive respect from your fellow humans does not dissipate as your bank account increases. So don’t use that excuse that a player with lots of money can take it.  That’s horsehockey, bro.  Be kind to all, or the Karma Gods will get you.

My twitter account is @Marilyncolor for those who now want to send ME hate tweets.  I am not anonymous by the way.