The popularity of message boards and commenting threads -- particularly as they pertain to sporting events -- has led in many cases to the opposite of a common expression. Often these areas are not a case of one bad apple spoiling the rest; rather, they are a case of one or two reasonable voices maintaining some semblance of order amidst the inanity and insanity. (RandBall commenters, of course, are the exception to the rule. Congratulations to everyone here).
We were reminded of this yesterday as the Twins played two of the more entertaining, tense baseball games you will see. The resulting split, of course, leaves them with very little margin for error the rest of the way. That said, even if they don't make it into the postseason -- one more caveat: they should have a pitching edge in each of these next two games and very well could still tie this race up heading into the weekend -- this September run, and particularly this Detroit series, should be cherished despite the flaws that brought us to this point and the mis-steps that certainly occurred yesterday and will occur in the next two games.
You want to second-guess? Yes, by all means. Sports were made for reasonable second-guessing. For asking what-if. For questioning a strategy. But for the love of all that is good and pure, does it have to come on every play that doesn't work? Constantly second-guessing with the benefit of hindsight doesn't make you look smart. It just makes you look like a joyless, clownish anti-fan. It turns you from the kind of person who would celebrate an outcome -- oh, let's see, a 27-24 last-second football victory or a 3-2 victory in the first game of a doubleheader -- into a fool who still wants to argue over every last detail.
Here are some hints: just because something didn't work doesn't mean it was the wrong play. That doesn't mean you can't talk about it and break it down, and even have an opinion about it (Nick Punto's squeeze play is a great example), but most judgment calls are a matter of opinion and not right or wrong. Also, just because anyone can be armed with an unholy number of helpful statistics and numbers doesn't mean that makes everyone a baseball expert. Numbers are not absolute. Numbers fail. They sometimes neglect the human element, the nuance and the situation of a game. These are not robots or video game characters playing these games with the backing of precise programs.
Sometimes a manager or a player is going to use his gut. Sometimes that gut is going to get punched. Roll with the punches. Relish the moments. Be a fan instead of someone who pretends to know better than everyone else. You might remember why you started watching sports in the first place: because it's fun.