Friday, May 7, 2010

Why the Hell do I do this to Myself? (The Lube Tube Guest Blog)

Why do people continually root for sports teams that never win? How can you follow a perennial loser, knowing the outcome well before the season is over? What the hell drives us, me especially, to dole out money for a team that honestly could care less about us? I ask myself these questions after every Reds bullpen blunder, Bengals mediocre season after mediocre season, and most recently, the Nuggets aging into oblivion. What makes me come back for more? Why do I care about sports? Why should I?

During the bad times, I have no answer to that question. I’m a 25-year-old male from Cincinnati. I was too young to remember the Bengals Super Bowl, and can barely remember the Reds World Series win. At the time, I was more concerned with Big Wheels, and staging elaborate tag games with my neighborhood friends. So at age eight when I really started getting into baseball, thanks to the monthly Beckett and baseball cards my dad and I would buy, I had no idea that I’d never see a winner again. From the strike 'till now, things have been declining steadily. What stunk the most was that the Reds were maybe the best team in baseball the year of the strike (editor's note: Cincinnati was 1st in the NL Central, but eight games behind Montreal for the best record in the league) , and after that awful strike - honestly, you really have to thank steroids for saving the sport - baseball was never the same. Teams started spending more, and more. It didn’t stop. Highlights of Reds games would be more about who we were playing (always went to a game anytime Maddux was pitching), and less about whether we were winning. No one anticipated a winner after June rolled around, and the expectations always lived up to reality.

Do I care about baseball still? Yes and no. I enjoy going to games, hate watching it on TV, and can go weeks without caring how the Reds are faring in the standings. Why? Because I know the answer. I don’t have to ask. Baseball is dead in many cities, a fact that Jesse and many other big spending/city fans don’t understand. We don’t care anymore. One of eight playoff spots, two if we’re lucky, will go to small-mid market teams this year (editor's note: clearly it's early, but right now there are three teams in playoff position with payrolls in the bottom 10). It’s been that way for a while. It’s a sport that maybe more than any other, forgot that competition is the true energizer of a sport, not juggernaut teams.

Wow that was kind of a tangent, let’s get back on track.

Most already know that the Bengals have sucked for many years, and today are not serious contenders. I haven’t seen a playoff win in my lifetime of following the team, and can remember excruciating blowouts and heartbreaking blunders more than happy car rides home. Does any of this sound like something we should pay for? The current Nuggets collapse isn’t helping either. They were my best ticket to a championship (earlier blog a year ago: fan of the Nuggets since 2003, decent fan when they got Melo, dedicated when the Iverson trade happened) and that’s gone. In 18 years of following sports, I’ve never seen a championship game involving any team I rooted for or school I attended, aside from a high school basketball championship (that we lost). Not exactly a winning pedigree. So it seems that through all these reflections of depressing memories from a collective dump of a sports fans’ career, I ponder walking away.

I never do. Three reasons. The first is jealousy- I want what many fans feel. I want that euphoric rush flowing in my veins after a G6 win, or a Super Bowl touchdown. I want to hug strangers as the buzzer sounds and my team is headed to the Final Four. The second is the joy of the little things happening right in front of your eyes. It’s jumping off your couch at 12:30 a.m. on a Tuesday when Melo throws down a dunk. It’s the buzz in the stadium after a great catch. There are certain memories that make winning seem irrelevant. It’s the “Did you just see that moments” that last longer than a trophy presentation or parade. Lastly, I stick with sports because of boredom. Honestly, what else is there to do? What else is there to watch? Even losers can help you pass the time, and give you the chance of excitement. That’s why I stick around.

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