I posted a version of this in response to a comment about the outfielders. After finishing it, I decided that despite the fact that periodically we have discussion about how we interact here, another was probably warranted. Why now? Because hopes were up, are now back down, and could go right back up if they run the table the next six games. After eighteen years in the wilderness, that is to be expected. The product has been some lively discussion and the inevitable trolling, but also some rather disturbing tantrums against players and their advocates by frustrated posters who understandably are tired of our 3.83 run a game offense and alarmed by the fact that the pitchers' arms may all fall off one night.
To be blunt, as Dave Parker famously said back in 1978, opinions are like rear ends: everybody has one. Discussions go sideways, however, when unreasonable prejudices make it impossible to evaluate players objectively. Overbay underproduced, so he is human garbage. We found out Jones wasn't going to be a regular, which most of us knew, but because someone tried to ride his runaway 2009 horse for two years because we had nothing else, he should now be blamed for that and dismissed as completely useless. Ronny Cedeno was a slug and now people want to keep him next year. Let's not even start with Doumit, or going back a few years to the unfair and rather mean stuff people dispensed about Craig Wilson.
The only saving grace is that the Fan Posts and comments usually don't read like the game threads, which have become depressing. The Pirates could do a service by having an event (charity, low contribution, whatever) where posters could meet the players and talk to them. I would bet anything that the tone here would change overnight if enough people came. Frankly, knowing that several of the players look in here and read some of the stuff that is written makes me wince in embarrassment. Yeah, they make a lot of money. Most are only lucky enough to do so for only a few short years, and then are forgotten and have to make it in the real world, just like everybody else. I have no problem with objective critiques of players' abilities based on their actual performance. However, I have no interest in your mind's eye view of a player, which sees all of his strikeouts and bad paths to scorching line drives, and misses his walks, singles and doubles. I have even less interest in that view when it is presented with the kind of vitriol that in more than a few cases is less harsh than what I've seen thrown at the Norwegian mass killer. Seriously, folks. This is baseball, and while it may seem like life and death, it really isn't.
Although I haven't had a chance to make it to any of the gatherings, I have noticed that the discussions between those who have gone are so much more informative and pleasant than those between anonymous posters. While we know each others by our handles, we know little to nothing about each other, or about the players we critique daily. Human interaction is impossible at the level many of us once knew it, for better or worse. That doesn't mean that we have to jettison the good that came of that different time and place. Try and remember that the person who you are posting about is a human being with hopes and dreams. The same is true for the person with whom you are debating. The community of those who forget that still represents a minority. After three some years here and six in the overall baseball blogosphere, I fear that minority is growing a bit too much and too fast for my taste.