21 September 2005

I'm still thinking...

Morning ABCs...

a) Woke up this morning to a 60ish degree day. This makes me happy.

b) Started reading "Now I Can Die Happy", the first book by ESPN's Sports Guy, and I don't think we properly have this guy in perspective yet. He has become an icon for my generation, and must-read material for, literally, everyone I know. Sports Guy has written about the feeling of his admiration for Baseball and Red Sox guru Peter Gammons, what his columns meant to SG, and the feeling of despair and rage when he would open up the paper to find Gammons' normal column written by someone else. I think he would be pleased to know how many times I, and others, have had that feeling towards SG. I've even had a girl in a bar tell me how funny she thinks he is.

Anyway, this book is excellent, and I was laughing out loud until my eyes slammed shut. Early highlights include: an ongoing diary about attending a wedding with his friends during the most amazing sports weekend, having to miss it, and returning home to find that his girlfriend, "The Sports Gal" ruined his attempt at recording the game(s) by innocently watching Regis and Kathy Lee, before leaving for the weekend. The line, "Why? That didn't mess up your taping, did it?", sent shivers through my spine. If I had a nickel for every time I'd heard that.

c) In looking at my book collection, I realized that it is an overwhelming collection of sports books, biographies (mostly sports), some fiction, and history. I suddenly imagined my girlfriend asking "Why do you like sports so much?" (*note: this would be the imaginary girlfriend, not the real girlfriend who, at her own will, sat with me and watched football all sunday long. that's right.)

The answer?

It's an unhealthy relationship with no way out.

Back in Psych class, I learned about the different types of relationships in which people participate. I remember two of them... (there might have been more, but...) One of them was a simple, set, equal ratio of 1:1. You get what you give. In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. The other one was a little trickier. An unfixed ratio of madness. You give and you give and you give. You might get, and you might not, but because you're unsure when you're going to get, you hang on, and keep giving; and when you actually do get, it's an amazing feeling that keeps you wanting more. Ignoring sports for a second, let's all think back to the relationship we've engaged in, or witnessed a friend in, that sounds like this. She's a huge bitch, and a total pain in the ass, but they're still together, because he keeps hanging on, waiting for the glory days to come back. (And, really, is that any different than seeing Mike Remlinger trot out to the mound, wondering if this is the day he remembers how to throw strikes?)

The point is this: We're all stuck in these relationships with our teams. And the greatest part is that they have figured out a way to keep us stuck. The reason most real-life "ratio of madness" relationships eventually end is because of the incessant, non-ending hell and misery wrought. How have the teams figured out a way around this? THE OFF SEASON! Where hope springs eternal...

So imagine your bitch on wheels girlfriend. You used to love her, but things aren't right, and you have a nagging feeling that this is an unhealthy relationship, and maybe, just maybe, it's time to go. Then she decides to go away for 5-6 months! While she's gone, you start to forget about the misery, and remember the good things. You start seeing slight improvements, some more drastic than others, providing hope! (read: maybe they signed that power hitting shortstop and shored up their miserable bullpen!) Before you know it, you can't wait for them to come back, and everything looks rosy again!

Then they do come back, and lose 15 straight games to open the season. 1997 Cubs, I'm looking right at you! ...and it starts all over again.

I know what you're thinking, "Dave, what if this team/girlfriend wins the world series? Isn't that good enough for you, you miserable curmudgeon?!"

Of course, the answer is "No, it isn't." Go ahead and ask a Red Sox fan if 2004 was good enough for them. Better yet, ask a fan of the team that has 26 World Championships to their name. Are THOSE good enough for him?! Of course not. In fact, it only makes things worse. Raising expectations like that means you have to deliver all the time, thus increasing the level of hate when you don't.

So to all those trapped like myself, I say, "Go ahead, pull up a seat, buy a t-shirt, read a book, remember the good moments, ignore the bad, and remember... just like old whats-her-name, on any given day, anything is possible."

And that's why I love sports.

Thank you for your time, the men with the white coats are here now.

(NFL picks delayed until the boys in Vegas are ready with the lines).


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