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Other Voices

Two weeks ago on Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron Gleeman and I argued about Francisco Liriano. In Liriano's previous outing he had struck out 15 batters but lost the game when he gave up a grand slam in the fourth inning. Aaron chaffed at the portrayal of Liriano as "mentally weak" while I felt that Liriano, at the very least, had trouble pulling himself out of a nosedive when he started struggling.

Attached Image: voices.jpg

Anyone who listens to the podcast knows that Aaron and I arguing some perceived point into the ground is not unusual. What you may not know is that after shows, or even on the breaks, we often turn to each other and wonder what the hell we were really arguing about. And we often conclude that we weren’t really arguing with each other at all. We were arguing with Other Voices.

In this case that became apparent around the 25:00 minute mark when Aaron refers to a story about the game. I didn’t even know that story existed. When he was arguing, he wasn’t arguing with me; he was arguing against that story. He was arguing with Other Voices that weren’t in the room. For that matter, so was I, only I was arguing with voices I’ve argued with for a decade. Those voices were arguing that player performances are dice throws, randomly determined like stratomatic cards. That wasn’t Aaron’s point at all. But I was listening to the Other Voices.

Here’s the thing: I think Aaron and I see eye-to-eye on Liriano. We’ve had conversations where we are completely in sync. Aaron was fighting a fight he is accustomed to fighting and I was doing the same. We ended up at odds and then wondered what the hell we were arguing about. In my mind, one thing was certain: it wasn’t about Liriano’s mental or emotional stability when it came to pitching. Which was, of course, what the argument was supposedly about.

I've seen more and more of this, just become I'm becoming more sensitive to it. It’s even more common in an oral medium where one can’t parse ones words quite as much, cover one’s tracks in a well-written argument. And that also means it is becoming more obvious on Twitter and message boards, where brevity is required.

And I’ve seen it a lot over the past 48 hours since the Liriano trade. I wonder how often our reaction to something like that is based more on battles we are accustomed to fighting versus Other Voices than objective evaluation. I even wonder if we shift our evaluation to find room for our voices amid the din, like a youngest sibling finding the niche his older brothers haven’t covered.

I don’t know that there is a lesson to be learned here. It’s just something I’m noticing. And as much as seeing that behavior in others bothers me, it’s even worse when I find myself not being full present, distracted or even driven by Other Voices.


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