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An important note on nostalgia

Aug 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

Bob Ryan tweeted this a little while ago:

Such sentiments are so common. And not just the specific sentiment about the pre-division pennant races. I’m talking about the general sentiment that that which happened during one’s youth was the best thing ever.

Most of us are guilty of this from time to time. Of advocating the notion that what occurred when we were kids — or, more often, when we were in our 20s — was the greatest version of said thing ever. Bob Ryan was 21 when the 1967 Sox won the pennant so of course he loved it. People love almost EVERYTHING when they’re 21. The Braves beat out the Giants in the last non-wild card pennant race in 1993. I was 20 then. People my age tend to think that was when pennant races were pennant races and, God, it’s all been a load of crap since. You can bet that someone who was 21 when game 163 was played a couple of years ago will one day tell their kids about how amazing that was.

But there’s a subtle difference between saying that you enjoyed the stuff of your youth and claiming that it was superior to everything that came after. In the former case you’re just being human and looking back at your salad days with rose colored glasses. That’s harmless and understandable. It’s why I’ll never not talk about old “Night Court” episodes or British synth-pop from the 80s.

But the latter case — saying that the stuff you enjoyed was better than all of the stuff now — is just old fogeyism. Sad and somewhat pathetic old fogeyism too inasmuch as you are devaluing that which other people enjoy simply because you do not. God, don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. No one says you have to like the new stuff — I sure as heck don’t like a lot of things that people in their 20s like today — but don’t claim that you have some monopoly on taste and that today’s youth are misguided. Or at least don’t claim that it’s bad that they are. Being misguided about stuff is a damn important part of being young. An enjoyable one at times. And a state of being which makes all of the things that are great about being young possible.

But whatever the case, learning the difference between “I love the stuff I enjoyed in my 20s” and “the stuff that happened in my 20s was THE BEST” is pretty key to one’s happiness. And is essential to one continuing to learn and enjoy new things as one grows old. Because it’s merely a preference. Not a stop sign.

  1. Paul Zummo - Aug 22, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    I always thought Babe Ruth was the greatest player of all time, but clearly that’s just the nostalgia of negative forty year old me talking.

  2. devilsmetsgiants - Aug 22, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    I turned 21 during the 86 playoffs. Yeah, baby!

  3. gloccamorra - Aug 22, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Craig is reading far more into that tweet than is there. Ryan didn’t say the ’67 pennant race was the best ever, but the “rooting experience” was the best HE ever had.

    If you, like Ryan, were a Red Sox fan in ’67, your team just came off a ninth place, 90 loss season in’66, (10th/100 losses in ’65) and was still, barely in a 4 team pennant race. The Angels were first to drop out, and played the Tigers tough, eliminating them. The race came down to a 3-game series in Boston against the leading Twins, and the Sox had to sweep to improbably win their first pennant in two decades.

    Other teams’ fans had their own favorite “rooting experience” but that was one for the ages. Too bad Craig wasn’t there to experience it, and didn’t look it up.

  4. lawson1974 - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    When something is on a continuous downward trend then it only makes sense that the best ever was in your youth, no matter what your age.

  5. johnnysoda - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Hey, remember back when baseball blogs talked about baseball instead of being watchdogs for other reporters? I miss those days.

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