I saved somebody from delusion yesterday.
The guy I saved was at the trolley stop downtown next to the House of Blues. He was wearing a Padres cap and a Padres hoodie. I positioned myself near him until we were standing almost shoulder to shoulder.
Quietly, without turning my head and barely moving my mouth, I said, "Padres fan?" It was rhetorical.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Padres fan?" I repeated a little louder. Delusional and a bit deaf.
He admitted to being a Padres fan and lit up somewhat as he mentioned how good a year the team was having. He stopped short as he noticed me slowly shaking my head.
I said, "They're actually not playing in San Diego today. They're up in San Francisco."
He told me he knew, but that he liked supporting the team by wearing the various paraphernalia anyway. Needless to say, I was more than mildly surprised. I asked if he realized how many of the people around him were likely from other cities, also with baseball teams. These other people would think it a bit out of place for him to be wearing Padres clothing when they were much more accustomed to clothes branded with the Cubs/Dodgers/Red Sox/Yankees/Giants/Mets/et al.
He stared at me blankly, but I sensed it wasn't too late to save him. I prodded in a different direction.
I asked him if he realized what month it was. He looked at me uncertainly as he (correctly) answered that was, in fact, May.
"Don't you get it? It's MAY. The games don't mean anything in May. You don't have to win any of these games. They have no effect on the outcome of the season!"
He tried to move away from me, but I wasn't done de-delusioning him. "I'm just going to stand over there," he started.
I stayed close, shoulder to shoulder. "There's no point getting excited or celebrating anything," I continued. "What good is it that they're winning now? The games only count starting in July, and really, they only count if you've managed to win an appropriate number of games by then to make them count."
He raised his eyebrows as he attempted to counter my infallible logic. "Well there's no way to win that appropriate number of games if we don't win early in the season, therefore the games do count right now and it's appropriate for me to root the team!"
I'll admit that my temper almost got the best of me and I had to restrain myself from slapping him as hard as I could.
"You still don't understand. The games are all but predetermined. You didn't expect them to do this well, did you?" He started to speak, not realizing that the question was, again, rhetorical and I continued, as patiently as I could. "The reason you didn't expect them to do this well is because somewhere behind this delusional wall. . ." I trailed off as I said the "D" word. Never call a crazy person "crazy", I thought briefly, but he had to figure out his problem eventually.
I continued. "Behind this delusional wall that you've managed to put up is likely an ounce or two (maybe just a single ounce) of INTELLIGENCE!" I was on a roll, and he had given up trying to move away from me, so I stood on a nearby bench. I've found that it's best to prove your point when you are not only at a logically superior plane compared to the deluded, but when you are working from an audibly and physically greater plane as well. I continued (loudly) and explained that the reason that he (along with no other clear thinking person above the age of six) didn't expect the Padres to do well was because they were already analyzed through a combination of predictive modeling and prophecy, to actually finish in last place.
I waited for him to admit defeat. After a moment (delusional and slow) he said, "But if we keep up this pace for even another week or two, we'll be in the race and we'll exceed those expectations."
I kept myself from asking the next logical question ("Are you retarded?"), but instead I laid it all out on the table and shouted from above him. "NO! Don't you realize that predictive modeling and prophecy are never wrong? This series of wins falls well within the expected confidence interval! And once you stray from the expected confidence interval, you always return. It's just like a roulette table that has come up Red seven times in a row. When this sort of thing happens, you bet on black."
"That doesn't make any sense." I cut him off. The idiot apparently didn't know simple probability either. He probably didn't understand that I didn't literally mean that baseball is played using a roulette table. I would have to save the lesson on analogy for another time. He repeated himself, "That makes no sense at all."
"The only sense in baseball is the sense that comes after the words 'dollars and'. You've been caught, hook, line and the proverbial sinker, into believing something that cannot be escaped from. You purchase tickets with money from your parents or legal guardians (since I assume that with this utter lack of clear thinking, you cannot hold a steady job). You spend their hard earned money to delude yourself into enjoying something at a time when it is both pointless and ignorant to enjoy. Regardless of what happens right now, as soon as the Padres manage to win 78 games, if you all you care about is winning..."
I paused for dramatic effect and rephrased my emphasis for my coup de grace. "If all you care about is winning, then as soon as the Padres manage to win their expected 78 games, you need to stop watching the games, because you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. I don't care if it's July when they get to 78 games. If that were (improbably) the case, you could readily expect them to lose the next 72 games. They will fall in line."
His face looked tired. Perhaps I had finally gotten through to him. "So if they're only expected to win the 78 games and they're winning most of them now, I should enjoy the games right now because I can't expect them to win more later." And once again my confidence in man was tempered by the realities of this single moron.
I shook my head quietly as I said, "No. There really is no point."
If he were a balloon, he would've sputtered as the last of his buoyancy left him. He quietly took off his hoodie and placed it gently in a nearby trashcan. He tossed his hat onto the trolley tracks to wait for whatever fate held for things left on trolley tracks. He muttered quietly, "And here I thought I liked baseball."
I climbed down from the bench and comforted him with a hand on his shoulder. "You like baseball," I said. "You just like it in a completely idiotic and non-sensical way."
He nodded quietly and said, "Will I ever like baseball as good as you?"
I smiled and he perked up briefly before I admitted, "No. Because I'm much smarter than you."