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September 27, 2012 5:00 am

In A Pickle: Free to Be We


Jason Wojciechowski

A forgettable book raises a timeless question.

The "we" debate is a weirdly durable one among those of us who enjoy meta-baseball arguments, those fights that aren't so much about the game as they are about how we interact with it. You'll see the topic spring up on Twitter every so often, as surely as you will discussion of the serial comma, The Wave, and whether Budweiser is an acceptable alternative to water for adult humans. By "the 'we' debate," I mean the question of whether it is "OK" for fans to refer to a team as "we." "We won last night, but it was awfully close;" "We need some power in the heart of the order if we're going to make any noise in the playoffs;" "We stink."

My experience of the two sides of the debate is that many people feel strongly that the "we" is illegitimate, a putting on airs, a usurpation of the rightful ownership of the victories of the men who actually play the game. Those who say "we," by contrast, seem often to not be wedded to the word so much as they are following long-formed mental pathways. They know they're not on the team, and I imagine most of them will admit that no matter how loud they cheer, they don't really have any effect on the field. But they say "we" and they see their use of the word as harmless. The players know full well who drove in the game-winning run, after all, and the first general manager who will be fooled into giving a fan a seven-figure deal to yell real loud hasn't been born yet.

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Giving up draft selections as compensation for signing free agents has often proved to be disastrous.

When Frankie Frisch, Hall of Fame infielder and manager, became a broadcaster, he became known for bemoaning walks. “Oh, those bases on balls,” he would cry whenever a pitcher put his team in a tough spot by throwing four out of the strike zone. If he was around today, he might be saying, “Oh, those compensatory draft picks.”

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Signed C Matt Walbeck to a one-year contract. [12/16]

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