It is by no means true that America loves sports. The Super Bowl barely draws one third of the country’s population, even with all the improved viewing technologies and methods of feigning audience accuracy. A lot of folks just don’t care as much as we do, and we’re here for them.
But there’s not caring, and then there’s caring about something so entirely else that it almost seems like a weird protest vote against sheep culture. The Bay Area is allegedly agog about the Warriors as they approach their fourth NBA Championship in eight years, but four blocks up the street, the Giants announced a total attendance of 22,185 for their game against the Kansas City Royals, whose only current claim to fame is that they have the worst record in baseball.
Allowing for the fact that attendance figures are actually just tickets distributed and that the actual collection of humans at the ball yard looked a lot more 12,000-y than 22,000-y, this is still 12,000 people who were so uninterested in in the local basketball team’s quest for glory that they would rather watch their own favorite team play a monumentally nondescript Royals team. Such a decision can only be considered one of two statements.
1. A tunnel-visioned homage to the 2014 World Series
2. A statement about basketball, and particularly this weirdo series in which every game seems close, then unravels at the end for someone. This is the first NBA Finals since 1988 in which every game has ended with a double-digit margin through five games, and only the third all time after the still-unmemorable Celtics-St. Louis Hawks series of 1960. The barometer for production, the already too-stupid-to-endure “Who’s The MVP Through Game X?” debate has already lurched from Robert Williams to Stephen Curry to the Jaylen Brown/Jayson Tatum back to Curry and now to Andrew Wiggins, and nobody is sure if these are historically great teams or just what’s available in the beginning of the nation’s collapse.
But none of those things play into a choice to head into the teeth of gruesome traffic (like we said, the arena is four city blocks from the stadium) to watch what was expected to be, and in fact turned out to be, a very desultory 10-walk, 14-strikeout, homer-less baseball game. The world is talking about a Finals game where the two teams combined to shoot 20-for-72 from three, and Giants-Royals didn’t even make the front page of MLB.com.
To go to that rather than Warriors-Celtics isn’t a statement because the tickets are so criminally overpriced. To go to that rather than go to what they call Thrive Park outside the arena to superspread your joy isn’t a statement, either, because these are people who clearly hate crowds. To go to that rather than stay home and flip back and forth between the two games, though, is a statement, and while we don’t actually want to speculate upon which that statement is, it has something to do with rejecting the hive mind of the Warrior fan, especially now. These are sporting radicals who must take to the streets, but immediately leave them for the comfort of their own section in a largely abandoned ballpark providing the bare minimum in professional sports entertainment.
There is one other possibility—they have season tickets and couldn’t get anyone else to take them and couldn’t bear to leave them to die in their phone apps. This, of course, is thrift gone mad, but the secondary market would offer no help for something this tepid; buying a seat for tonight’s game would soak you only $13, not including the $73 handling and processing fees. Then again, the Pittsburgh-St. Louis doubleheader today has a two-game price of $7, not including the $79 handling, processing and stupidity fees.
The point here is, to the extent that there is one, is that some people—about 12,000 of them, give or take—will never be sufficiently charmed by Stephen Curry or Draymond Green or even Otto Porter The Younger, no matter how much they try to make it so. They left their own homes to avoid basketball even though they have remotes at home which could do the job for them. They could have had free beer from their own coolers instead of $18 domestics in a plastic cup. They could have bought tickets to see the Dodgers over the weekend but decided to wait for the Royals instead. They had a myriad of choices, and they chose this. They went to where all their neighbors are not, because they are iconoclasts.
Or because they are as mad as barn owls, and should be avoided at all costs.