Backhanded Compliments

Was that a compliment? Should I take it as a compliment.

Random guy fan at Orioles game: Take him out of the Game! Can’t you see he sucks. Ozzie he just is killing us and has been bad all year long. He’s got no wins!

Me: Well, the offense hasn’t done anything and you can’t really blame Danks too much right now.

RG: Yeah, I guess so.

Me: Um, hum, especially since he’s pitched far superior than that. Wins aren’t everything you know.

RG: Huh. So you seem to really know a lot about baseball. That’s cool.

Yeah, I “seem to really know” a lot about baseball. In fairness, the RG was a bit drunk (it was the fifth inning after all) and I was busy snapping pictures. At the same time, I was further explaining why getting mad at White Sox pitcher John Danks was ridiculous. More recently, the following exchange took place.

Random guy on train after Cleveland’s loss to Jake Peavy: Oh well, we will get them next time. But hey, the White Sox still suck. And we still are rockin’ an awesome record.

Me: Do you think it will last? Are you surprised at the start.

RG: Yeah, I kind of am

Random guy on train’s friend: Honestly, I am very shocked.

RG: Not sure it will last.

RG friend: I hope it lasts, but we will see

Me: Tell the fans to take their butts to the park and watch them play. They’ve been fun to see.

RG: Yeah, see we don’t need to spend tons of money to field a good team. Neither does Kansas City.

RG friend: Yep, we don’t have a high-priced guy batting .150. Oh wait, has it climbed any.

Second random guy on train: Yes in deed, we LOVE our high-priced strike-out king. He might hit .200 this year.

RG: OK, see we don’t need a high-priced payroll to be in last place.

Me: You mean the Twins?

RG: What?

Me: The Twins are in last place and have a high payroll. The White Sox aren’t in last place.

RG: Hey, it’s cool you can talk sports and know about things.

At that, I continued to talk to the three guys on the train about the game. And I let the “hey it’s cool” comment pass without comment on my end. Two of the random guys almost missed their stop discussing baseball with the girl who could talk sports and knew things. Twins fans, before you think I was just slamming your team because you would happen to be the biggest rival to my White Sox, the guy did think that the White Sox were in last place.

Of course, both conversations left me wondering one thing: Guys, why do you go into a conversation with a woman assuming she doesn’t know anything about sports and then are surprised to find out she does know something? Fellas are going to have to help me understand this, but do you really run into THAT MANY WOMEN who can’t hold a conversation with you about sports? Or do you just tune the girls out and only in fleeting moments do you pay attention and realize that the girl is saying stuff that makes sense?

These incidents of late are reminding me of an episode from season 5 of Friday Night Lights. In the episode, the East Dillon Lions were being coached for a big rival game. Jess, the newly minted equipment manager, was hanging around the sidelines doing work. Coach Riggins was yelling at Tinker (one of the players) about being late on the play. Jess, quietly explained to Riggins what the problem was. In “typical” guy fashion, the Riggins just kind of blew her off and went back to yelling at the guys.

Later, in a coaches meeting, Riggins throws this “idea” about what to do about Tinker out the larger group. Head Coach Taylor says for Riggins to run with the idea to fix it. Jess happened to be standing in the background and heard it all. She also had a look on her face like, “really, you take MY IDEA, claim it as your own and now get to look like a genius for fixing Tinker.” Clearly when she first mentioned the problem, the coach didn’t think she knew what she was talking about. Maybe after thinking about it later, he realized she was on to something. Or better, actually might know about football!

This scene reminded me that every day when I am talking to guys, I have to prove myself that much more when discussing sports. Last week at work in the break room, I was talking with a guy about the White Sox schedule not getting any easier for them. Sure, they’ve been playing well, but the schedule doesn’t shape up like the 2010 season did for them to go on another roll against the national league.

I was immediately met with a response of “well, the national league *is* easier than the American League and they have interleague that coming weekend.” I had to politely remind this guy that it was only three games of IL play and that after those three games, the Sox would be facing some tough teams, such as Texas, Boston and Toronto. He responded back, with “I guess.”

Guys, can you do all the women a favor? Can you stop assuming women don’t know anything about sports and then find yourself surprised and instead have an attitude that she does know. You can be surprised if it turns out she doesn’t know what she is talking about. That would make you all so much cooler and will make sports-loving women not want to punch you for giving her a backhanded compliment.

Oh and not every conversation with a woman about sports has to be an argument. It’s actually OK to acknowledge that she is speaking sensibly. 🙂

Oh and do yourself a favor and watch Friday Night Lights. Best television in a LONG time and I promise you won’t regret the time you spent getting to know the folks in Dillon, Texas.


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