A handy guide to mentally divorcing the player from the person with only minimal hypocrisy.
Daniel Murphy has been on an historic tear in the 2015 postseason, amassing home runs in the previous six consecutive games—a feat that has never been done—as well as hitting 11 RBI’s, while batting .421 with a SLG of 1.026. He’s been one of those highly improbable monsters that often pops up in the post season and catapults a team to the top. Right now, New York loves Daniel Murphy—he’s a ginger-bearded, puppy-dog eyed savior. He’s also a bit of a bigot. When the MLB’s “Ambassador for Inclusion”—the openly gay Billy Bean— visited the Mets back in March, Murphy declared to the media that he did not agree with the way Billy lives his life. Here is the main section of what Murphy said that drew the ire of the public:
I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.
So, let’s say you find these comments rather abhorrent, ignorant or simply unenlightened. Perhaps you believe that people like Daniel Murphy, people who use their faith to judge and discriminate against others are not the type of humans that deserve your fandom. You used to love Daniel Murphy, but ever since those words fled from betwixt his lips, things have changed. Now when you look at him all your see is ANTI-GAY written across his pale forehead as he approaches the plate with his bible tucked under his right arm. And so you find yourself helplessly conflicted. You’re a die hard Mets fan and your team has reached the World Series for the first time in 15 years—and one of the main reasons was Daniel Murphy. I am here to tell you, you can still root for the athlete on the field, and not support or respect the person. You can ignore the human and focus on the machine.
Here’s how you do it (it’s a three-pronged approach):
1. Disengaging the Human Connection
It’s natural to identify with an athlete you love, to imagine what he/she is like outside of boundaries of sport, but this urge must be suppressed and deprived of oxygen before it has space to bloom. Let Wright, Harvey and deGrom etc. take up your heart’s real estate and place Daniel Murphy in an unihabited recess of your mind. This is essentially an aggressive form of blissful ignorance, and one must be proactive in order for it to be successful. Avoid a connection at all costs; a connection will only serve to make you sad and conflicted.
2. Reinforcing the Space between Man and Player
Think of Daniel Murphy as the second baseman for the Mets, a vital member of the team you love. He is an agent for your happiness, a body that performs actions in a space. He is the sum-total of his achievements on the field—a hollow, corporeal being in a vacuum. For you, Daniel Murphy does not exist beyond the parameters of a ballpark; he has an entirely conditional identity. Think of it as a conscious uncoupling between you and that guy near second base. Daniel Murphy does not go home after a game, he dematerializes into the infield and rematerializes for batting practice.
3. Be Realistic
Let’s be honest for a moment. If you were to sit with every member of your favorite sports team, searching for an intellectual soulmate, touching on religion, politics, art and whatever else, it’s very likely you would walk away disappointed.* We don’t know these people. In some cases we may think we do based on their in-game behavior, a revealing interview or a poignant soundbite, but we don’t. In most cases their lives are entirely devoted to being an athlete, and being a successful athlete does not mean one has to be a well-rounded or insightful person. Devoting one’s life to a singular physical pursuit often generates a rather myopic viewpoint. So don’t be so hard on yourself, and realize that you have, and are, rooting for people that are far worse than Daniel Murphy, you just don’t know it yet.
*Exclusions: Henrik Lundqvist.
by Jesse Mechanic