On Jon Rauch and Death Wishes

[ANGER]

You shouldn't wish another human being dead. This is one of those principles that's more or less understood in polite society, but sadly needs to be restated on the internet. Even if you're really mad at somebody, you probably don't actually want them dead. There are exceptions to every rule, but there's no way you should be telling another person to die, unless you're living in a real-life version of Death Wish and a buncha lousy punks have killed your whole family.

I'm saying all this because on Sunday, the Yankees completed a sweep of the Mets in the Bronx. They lost the last game when Jon Rauch allowed a walkoff home run to Russell Martin. Based on his postgame reaction, it's safe to assume Rauch didn't want to do this. Pro athletes are beyond the rooting interests of us mortals, but they still have their pride and don't enjoy being responsible for a loss. Rauch didn't want to make a lousy pitch in a small ballpark, but he did, and he paid for it. It was hard to watch as a Mets fan, and we're all entitled to get mad at him for doing a poor job particularly on Sunday and in general this season.

Here's what we're not entitled do:

Screen_shot_2012-06-12_at_2

Screen_shot_2012-06-12_at_2

There were more--many more--tweets like this in the aftermath of Sunday's game. These were just two examples that didn't also use potty mouth and homophobic slurs, and I'd rather not sully AA's front page with that kind of nonsense. Suffice to say, some Mets fans expressed their frustration over a Yankees sweep by telling Rauch to go kill himself. Rauch himself rolled with it the best he could, RTing the worst offenders for all the world to see. Still, you don't have to put on blinders and think Rauch did a bang-up job to recognize that telling him to kill himself is 100 percent wrong and not remotely justifiable.

I realize that discourse on the internet is generally harsher than it is at real life levels. The internet is where some people think it's acceptable to express the thought "I disagree with you" with the words "GO DIE IN A FIRE." I would invoke the Mom Principle here: Just because some other people are doing it doesn't make it okay.

This is the kind of thing that only happens on the internet, because of anonymity and distance. No one would say things like this to Jon Rauch if he was within 100 yards from them. I've been to a billion ballgames and heard crowds scream nasty things at ballplayers, but never once have I heard someone in a ballpark wish death on a player. When you're relatively close to another human being, you realize that telling them to commit suicide is immensely wrong.

While I don't think Death Tweets are unique to Mets fans--there are animals in every fanbase--I do think they express a certain attitude that is particular to New York sports. It's the idea that New York is the Biggest Stage and if you happen to have the privilege to play on that Big Stage, you must endure everything that comes with it. This attitude is reinforced by the press, which likes to tout the idea of the city's toughness to both its readership and itself

Because we are constantly told that New York is So Tough, some people take it as their birthright to prove it by becoming the worst people ever and expressing that "toughness" in the manner shown above. If an athlete can't take a very personal attack--saying someone should no longer be alive is about as personal as it gets--maybe he's not cut out for New York, The City That Never Sleeps or Stops Telling Strangers To Kill Themselves.

In truth, these expressions of "toughness" are cowardice in its most craven form, several rungs down the ladder from ringing someone's doorbell and running away. That's because none of these people literally intends what they've written. They're just deriving a crank call thriil from hassling a famous person in the most vile way. Like all bad comedians, they confuse meanness and violence with humor. Rauch shouldn't have to endure this just because be plays in New York. Death threats shouldn't be one of his job hazards any more than heavy sack beatings should be one of yours, whatever it is you do for a living.

I've definitely been guilty of flying off the handle and blowing things way out of proportion when the Mets mess up. (See: My twitter account on a daily basis.) There are players I simply can't stand, and when they hurt the Mets, I often express my can't-stand stance in harsh terms; this weekend, that was the eminently hatable Nick Swisher, but it could also be Chipper Jones, Shane Victorino, or Whoever Victimized The Bullpen This Time. I can't justify every single remark I've made online in the heat of the moment; earlier this week, I suggested I'd like to see a certain music web site carpet bombed, which was, in retrospect, perhaps a bit much.

So this all may be pot calling the kettle black, but I do think that bare minimum, we all need to draw the line at telling another person to kill themselves. Over a baseball game, no less. I know this may seem blasphemy in the internet age, but you don't have to share every thought that flits across your brain. It's okay to stop for a second and think to yourself, Is this something I should really say to another human?

Above all, I'd counsel that if baseball inspires actual thoughts of murder, maybe it's not your ideal entertainment option.

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