I went to the Met game on Saturday with my younger brother. The Mets were playing the Milwaukee Brewers. Frankie “K-Rod” Rodriguez is a relief pitcher for the Brewers. He used to be a relief pitcher for the Mets until he was traded for two unknown players and a bag of cash. He also beat up his father-in-law in the clubhouse at Citi Field last year.
“I got a problem with how they treated this guy,” I say as K-Rod trotted out of the bullpen for the Brewers in the eighth. Everyone was booing. I’ve never booed.
“Yeah,” says my brother, who’s one of those guys who has more going on behind the scenes than you see. He says “yeah,” but that doesn’t mean he agrees with you. He knows you’re going to continue, so he lets you.
“I’ve said this a million times, but the only guy who gets in trouble is the guy who wins the fight, you know?”
“Think about it,” I say. “How many times has someone antagonized you so bad that you wanted to take care of it like that, but you knew you couldn’t because you didn’t want to get arrested or sued?”
“Every day. Right now.”
“Right. Every day there's someone who chaps your ass to the point where you want to do something fucked up, or it could be just one guy who’s doing the same shit over and over, but either way, you can’t do shit, and you’re the bad guy when you do what this guy did and snap, right?”
“Sure,” he says, sipping his beer, watching K-Rod warm up.
“But what about the guy who keeps doing the fucked up shit? Why doesn’t society come down on him? Why is it that you have to sit and take shit from people, day after day, and nothing happens to them, but you react and throw a punch, and suddenly you’re the asshole?”
“This doesn’t sound like it’s about K-Rod, exactly.”
I put my feet on the back of the seat in front of me and checked the time. He was drinking. I wasn’t. “It is and it isn’t,” I say, “but there’s two sides to everything, and the only one we got here is the one about this guy popping his father-in-law. What I want to know is what the motherfucker really did to get the guy to pop him. That’s what I always want to know. What causes shit.”
“You want the rest of this?” he asks, showing me the bag of peanuts he’d been working on for the better part of an hour.
“Yeah,” I reply, taking the bag. There were four peanuts left, and shells all over the floor. “You got anything to say?”
“I think you should take care of your business and let society sort out whether or not you did it the right way.”
“Meaning,” he says, “you think about the best way to handle your problems, and if popping someone looks like a solution, you go do it. And if you’re wrong, they’ll lock your ass up. If you’re right, problem solved.”
“It’s a world full of little ratfuck shits, is what you’re saying.”
“Can be if you let it.”