Friday, June 15, 2007

Hubris In Action (or, Why Matt Damon Should Be Encouraged to Shut the F@#$ Up)

For those who may have missed it, on June 5th Matt Damon appeared on Letterman in full Red Sox regalia and proceeded to taunt the dynamite monkey that is the New York Yankees:

For those who can't view the above, here's a link.

In many ways, that's a pretty genius two minutes of comedy. I think it's safe to say that Damon didn't co-write that material with Ben "Aspiring .Sully" Affleck. I especially enjoy the part where Damon notes that if the Yankees beat the Sox ten more times, they'd still be in second place.


Jesus, Matt, couldn't you just let it be? Couldn't you just limit yourself to checking's standings page in the morning and basking in its warming glow? Couldn't you occupy yourself by heading over to NYY Fans and giggling at the masses clamoring for A-Rod's head? Because since you decided to give in to temptation and let the Yankees have it with both barrels, the A.L. East standings have gone from this:

1st Boston............37 20 --
4th NY Yankees ...24 31 11.5

to this:

1st Boston............41 24 --
2nd NY Yankees ..33 31 7.5

I mean, seriously, Matt, cut the shit. That's 9 wins in a row for New York, their longest such streak since 2005.

I want to make it clear that we here at the GRBG do not believe in curses, whether theoretically applied by an all-time baseball great, or by the star of such motion pictures as Stuck on You. Purported curses have been used to excuse all manner of incompentence and bigotry over the course of the years, and we want no part of perpetuating the myth of their existence.


The ancient Greeks used the term hubris to denote the concept of a mortal who oversteps by thinking himself to be above his station. For example, it would probably be an act of hubris on my part not to defer to my close personal friend Aristotle's explanation of the concept and its dangers:

[Hubris is] to cause shame to the victim, not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. . . . As for the pleasure in hubris, its cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own superiority the greater. (per Wikipedia)

That's good stuff, there. Fucking Affleck didn't get anywhere near that shit, either. And it's a dead-on description of Damon's rant.
So, what happens to those who anger the gods through an act of hubris. Well, the classic example is Icarus, son of Daedelus, who crafted working wings out of feathers and wax. Icarus took the wings made by Daedelus, but got overconfident and flew too close to the sun which melted the wax and caused him to do a fatal Quintuple Lindy into the sea.

Now, I'm not suggesting that either Matt Damon or the 2007 Red Sox are about to plunge into the sea (though if Julio Lugo and his .587 OPS want to take a hop off the Zakim Bridge, we won't stop him). They have plenty of pitching, and the perverse advantage of having two glaring lineup holes (Lugo and Coco Crisp) that they can try to plug going forward (it's actually easier to fix big, isolated problems than it is to improve a team being held back by slight across-the-board underpeformance. This is why the stars and scrubs strategy works well in fantasy leagues.) Also, it's unlikely that the Yankees will continue winning every game they play.