Sunday, September 02, 2012

Ugly Americans


I am a Red Sox fan.


It's been a tough year for Red Sox fans. An entire year, counting the September Collapse of 2011. Friday night's game, which the Sox lost by the score of 20 to 2, was particularly embarrassing. It's been more than depressing.

Being almost 3,000 miles from Boston, I don't have much contact with other Red Sox fans. I do know three here in Tucson (Red Sox Nation is everywhere!), but we don't watch games together. During the games, just to get the feeling of being with other fans, I follow #redsox on Twitter. And I read comments on the Boston Globe articles to stay in touch. Fans on both venues have been pretty rough.

Frustration has come out in anger. The owners are blamed, the manager is blamed, the players are blamed. This is all standard stuff for sports fans, but the vituperation of this year's comments has been more than I've ever seen. It's not a lot of fun.

Following one of the infrequent wins--by Daisuke Matsuzaka, of all people--I decided to revel in the win and go back to a happier time. I watched Faith Rewarded, the NESN video of the 2004 season, and Fever Pitch, a joyful romantic comedy that captures the insanity of Red Sox fans. Now, it's easy to be upbeat when you win a World Series, especially when it's been eighty-six years since the last one. But I don't remember anyone being angry in 2003 when they didn't win. Baseball was fun, a game, and the self-described "bunch of idiots" had fun playing it. And the fans had fun watching it.

This year isn't fun and the fans aren't making it any better. I've stopped following the nastiness on #redsox during games. And I'm almost grateful that the commenting function on the Globe has been broken a lot this week.

You know what else is going on this year? Think hard. I'll wait...

Elections.

We've already been through a hotly contested Republican primary for president, not to mention the local races, including filling Gabby Giffords' seat here in Tucson. I am more than tired of the accusations and the lies of the various candidates and their proponents.

I read the comments on news web sites like CNN.  Most are the same tone as the Red Sox comments. There are still people, the so-called "birthers", ranting about Obama's birth certificate and whether he's a citizen or not. On the other side are those ranting against the Tea Party people. Or what Mitt Romney is hiding by not releasing ten years of tax returns. Rather than discussing the content of the news article, the comments degenerate into name-calling.

When did America become so hateful and angry?

Every candidate says they want to talk about the issues. In the beginning. They criticize the other guy for running negative ads. Then, as the race gets tighter and election day gets closer, more and more negative ads start appearing on television. Because negative ads work. Sad, but true.

My phone rings several times a night. I used to answer my phone before every call was a political robocall.  Now I don't answer it unless the person calling starts to leave a message and I recognize them as someone I know. I don't want to listen to more lies and accusations and pleas for my vote.

And so it was a welcome relief to listen to Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention this past week. It didn't have the flourish or the polish of President Obama's orations. It also wasn't filled with anger and accusations. It was a reasoned presentation of who Mitt Romney is and what he intends to do. I hope Barack Obama takes his cue from Mitt Romney and gives a similar reasoned speech at the Democratic National Convention. Because I don't need any more anger.
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