When did we, as sports fans, start to look for scapegoats before the game is even lost? According to Boston sports talk, Tony Graffanino’s “Buckner-esque” error has already cost the Red Sox the series. According to Angels-fan message boards, Garrett Anderson should have definitely had Robinson Cano’s double in the first inning of game one. I’m sure Jake Peavy’s fractured rib is becoming a sore spot for more of San Diego than just him.
How little confidence do you have in your team when you are already formulating a scapegoat before the series is even over? Is it some sort of sacrifice to the baseball gods? It’s as if once you lose a series, if there’s someone that is run out of town with the entire team’s guilt upon his back, the rest of the team and city is allowed to move on and put it all behind them.
The thing about the scapegoat is how much reality gets twisted in the process of forming them. If you listen to the way the media talks about Wednesday night’s game, you’d think Graffanino personally gave up the homerun to Iguchi. Graffanino missed a ground ball, it cost his team an out, (I doubt they would have gotten a double play even if he would have fielded the ball). It would not have gotten the Sox out of the inning. Does anyone remember that Buckner’s error only resulted in tying the game, someone else had to give up the game winning hit? Do Angel fans remember that Donnie Moore’s gopher ball to Dave Henderson in 1986, the “one strike away” pitch, only tied the game, and that it was only game 5 of the series at that? We choose a scapegoat, we re-write the story so that he is solely responsible for the loss, and we start preparing for next year.
Maybe this practice has become such a tradition that I shouldn’t even try to mess with it, but I think we’re going a little overboard. Can’t we wait until our team actually loses before we choose a whipping boy? And before next year, perhaps we could seriously consider bringing back the “sacrificial lamb;” we could burn off all of that frustration over a hearty plate of lamb chops, and let our players return next year in peace.