Ask NotGraphs (#3)

Dear NotGraphs,

My girlfriend of four years is a paradox. On the surface, she appears to love baseball. Years ago, she had a senior picture taken of her in Twins gear and surrounded by Twins memorabilia. We went to TwinsFest together just last weekend and she was far more interested in the historical baseball exhibit than me (I was more interested in autographs and pictures). She’s also been working on getting a poster of Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer as “construction workers” signed by all three players (she’s only missing Morneau now), and still has the newspaper article of when Paul Molitor got his 3000th hit.

However, when it comes to watching games on TV, she rarely joins me. As she put it, she cannot understand watching the same thing every single night. I find this interesting, as we watch How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory together, and we often rattle off 4 episodes in one night with each other. Please don’t tell me my Y chromosome is clouding my vision. Is this not similar?

I get the feeling that part of her aversion is due to her brother and father. They are both… well, I guess the best way to put this is that they would commonly scream at the TV. Even if the Twins were up 5-0 in the 8th inning, if the shortstop bobbled a slow grounder, look! He’s the worst player on the team. Being subjected to this for 20+ years and counting did a number on her, I believe. Fortunately for her, I am more level-headed and quiet during games, but she still is not interested in watching more than one game a week with me.

My question is, how can I get my girlfriend to start watching more Twins games with me without her complaining about it? By watching, I mean actually engaged in the game, not just sitting on the couch next to me playing Angry Birds for 3 hours. Or am I destined to spend every night during baseball season alone for the rest of my life?


Miffed in Minnesota

Dear Miffed,

Gotta say, your girlfriend being willing to sit on the couch next to you, even playing Angry Birds, doesn’t sound so bad. I posed your question to my wife, who gets up from the couch when I turn on a baseball game– and if our apartment had more rooms than it does, she would definitely go to another one of those rooms. Her first question was whether you watch with the announcers on. News to me that the announcers were part of the problem for her, but she said– and this is a direct quote, because I wrote it down– “I think I would definitely be more interested in watching if instead of announcers, the game was set to music.”

Ten minutes later, when I stopped laughing, I asked, “like figure skating?”

“I guess so. Although I suppose you haven’t seen me watch figure skating either. All I meant was the announcers make every game sound the same, they’re talking about nothing. And maybe if I knew more about the players and their lives, I would be more interested. Like when you told me about Jose Reyes and his injuries, now I know more about him.”

“Oh, Jose Reyes isn’t on the Mets anymore.”

“What? What happened?”

“They couldn’t afford him.”

“Oh, now I don’t care again.”

So, okay, Miffed, sorry about that tangent. I know, none of this is that useful to you, because your girlfriend actually loves baseball, she just doesn’t love watching it on TV. Or at least not every night. To be honest, your question makes me sympathize with her a little bit. Here she is, legitimately a baseball fan, and happy to watch a game a week. And even sometimes sit on the couch while you watch, when she’s not interested. And you’re complaining. I know, it’s frustrating. You want her to want to watch every night. But you have it really good.

I don’t know if her experiences with her family scarred her, or just bored her. Heck, maybe the fact that you don’t throw things at the TV is the problem. “If only he’d show some passion when the shortstop bobbles a grounder in the 8th inning of a blowout, then I’d be excited to watch. But he just sits there, quietly, saying nothing.” Maybe that’s what she’s thinking. Or maybe she’s just not that interested in watching 162 games a year, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t know that I accept the analogy that it’s no different from watching How I Met Your Mother. There’s plot, there’s characters. And the episodes are over in half an hour. Sure, baseball has unpredictability, and there’s an excitement to live sports that yet another 18 Kids And Counting rerun doesn’t have.

But every game is a lot to ask. (Have you tried varying up the routine? Maybe she’d enjoy it more in a sports bar than on the couch? Or inviting friends over sometimes to all watch the game together? What if you made her some special game-watching snacks as a reward? Or you watch a couple of innings, and if the game’s not close, you break for some Mike & Molly and then check back in? Or turn the sound off, and do something together with the game on in the background– play Scrabble, perhaps? Or, well, this is a G-rated website, but use your imagination.)

Talk to her. See if there’s anything you can do to make it more fun for her. And if there isn’t, then compromise. Skip the Scott Baker starts. Do things that she wants to do. Turn it on for the last couple of innings. Be thankful she’s a fan, and wants to at least watch sometimes. And make sure her father and brother are properly medicated.

Good luck,

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Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a satirical novel that should make people who didn't go to law school feel good about their life choices. Read more at McSweeney's or elsewhere. He likes e-mail.

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Or watch baseball games instead of whatever it is the Twins play.

Mario Mendoza of posters
Mario Mendoza of posters

Seriously, good point. Maybe the 2011 Twins were the problem.