Dear Drew Stubbs,
First, let me take the opportunity to welcome you to the Cleveland Indians. I know you might feel a bit neglected as Cleveland blew up the free agent market and somehow became the talk of the league with Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. But make no mistake, we’re all happy to have you in town.
Tribe fans are a great group (if a little worn down). We love our players and we hope for nothing but the best for you. Don’t worry about replacing Shin-Soo Choo, he’s a fine player in his own right, but we don’t want him, we want you. Just be yourself, baby, we want to watch you shine. The Reds are sure to miss your fleet feet in the outfield before long. I can’t wait to see you wreak havoc on the American League Central, it feels like it’ll be an interesting year.
But Drew, there’s something very important that has come to pass with your arrival in Cleveland, and it’s very personal to me. You see, my girlfriend’s last name is Stubbs as well. This essentially means you two are connected in my mind. You two are family, even if you’ve never met and are from different parts of the country altogether. That’s just how names work. So when I told her the Tribe had acquired your services, she was ecstatic without knowing anything about you. Though not a baseball fan herself, she’s spent enough time around me that osmosis has kicked in where she’s looking forward to summertime for days at the park. She even bought me a Drew Stubbs sherzy for Valentine’s Day! It’s my first piece of non-hat Indians gear I’ve owned since I was a young boy.
Though she’s admittedly sweet as candy, all this presents a problem for a couple of reasons. As I’m sure you know, relationships are nebulous things—you can’t really force them, they just happen, and sometimes it’s beautiful. Its like fandom in a way. I’m not from Ohio, yet I’m a Cleveland fan on an almost unsettling level. As with my girlfriend, I wouldn’t have it any other way. A lot of times fans will have the same kind of relationship with their team that they might with a significant other. It can be fun, stressful, uncomfortable, relaxing—basically the source of a whole host of emotions you never knew existed and didn’t know you could feel.
I’m not saying your performance on the field will directly impact my relationship with my girl, because that’s crazy. But there’s a very real chance it could. After all, baseball fans, even those who delve deep into the abstracted numbers of the game and try to find answers in spreadsheets like some of my compatriots here on Wahoo’s on First, are an illogical breed, hoping against hope in even the most dread situations. A five-run home run is impossible, but that doesn’t mean I’m not rooting for instant comebacks, even late in the game.
Let’s say, for instance, you strike out to kill a rally against the Tigers, and they go on to win and clinch the division. I’ll be stomping around muttering about how Stubbs screwed it up, and if she overhears that, she’s likely to get upset because I seem to be mad at her. Fights ensue, she throws my PlayStation 3 out the window, and it all falls apart. It’s a stretch, I know, but it’s irrational, that’s the entire idea.
This could go the other way too. If we hit a rocky patch and the very idea of the name Stubbs plummets me into a realm of despair and depression, I might just have to start hating you for a while too. You’d be a glaring reminder of what I’d have lost.I won’t have any way to let you know this, but if you happen to be in Chicago at some point this summer and look over to the stands to see a guy wearing your number alternately cursing you out and sobbing uncontrollably, there might be a bit of trouble in paradise. Take heart that at least I’m taking it out on you, and not a sweet girl from Kansas.
Speaking of which, I read you attended the University of Texas. Once this comes out, tension between myself and the woman could be unavoidable—she’s from Kansas and is a massive Kansas State fan. Rooting for anything Longhornian is painful to her, it’s an affront to her very soul. I bought a Texas shirt for a Halloween costume last year (the idea was Annoying Texan, but it didn’t come together because they were charging $25 dollars for a giant foam cowboy hat—ridiculous, I know) and she wouldn’t speak to me whenever I wore it. It came in handy from time to time, but if it comes to light that her namesake (or whatever) attended her archrival, I might have a lot more Fridays to myself. Not that that sounds terrible, but company is nice.
I’m not asking you to renounce your devotion to Bevo and Burnt Orange. I’m just worried about a schism forming between my love of the Tribe and my love for my girlfriend. Something’s gotta give in that case, and I might have to enact an elaborate plan to get you traded to the Mets for Dan Wheeler. I think you’re great, Drew, but some things come first.
Drew, I don’t mean any of this to scare you, or put undue pressure on you. Just know that you sit in a strange position, at once being able to crush a blossoming romance, and at the same time a likely scapegoat for my own romantic issues. I encourage you to give it all to the Indians, and be sure you have my undying support. And hey, if you just come out like gangbusters this year and go from awesome outfielder who can club the ball, steal bases and strike out a ton to legitimate superstar and part of the most electrifying outfield since the ‘51 Yankees (their left fielder must have felt a bit put out), well, that will allay my worries. I’m rooting for that one.
Yours, Very Conflicted and Confusedly,
Merritt R. Rohlfing, Esq.