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On losing

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Houston Astros - Game Five Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With time comes perspective, and that’s the kind of cliche that gets mercilessly ridiculed, abducted, pelted with squishy tomatoes and other rotten fruit, then drawn-and-quartered on a prominent high-follower Twitter account nowadays. The retweets last for several days, and the unfunny jokesters will be responding to it for weeks after that.

But. It’s true. If you’ve watched your team long enough you start to see the pattern. The fans are all the same, just interchangeable. Go read True Blue LA right now. A competent amateur could write a Python script to search and replace Dave Roberts and Yu Darvish and other Dodger names with Todd McLellan/Peter DeBoer and Antii Niemi and other Sharks names. Replace the setting with ice and sticks and pucks. It would read exactly the same as any elimination game thread on Fear the Fin.

thornton gif

There’s also the feeling of having been owed something. You spend your time, your money, your emotional energy on these young athletes and the coaching and management layers above them. You saw in your mind the result, at the end of the season. The potential is there! Right there! They could do it! Others have, why not us? And when that loyalty and investment ends in a loss, somebody has to pay up. Even if your team was just unlucky. ESPECIALLY if they were just unlucky.

The Dodgers have been an exceptionally good team for a long time now. They last won a championship in 1988. In the 28 years since then, they’ve had 5 losing seasons. 5. Dodger fans feel like they’re owed something just as much as any sad-sack team’s fans. All the winning doesn’t alleviate it at all, it makes is more acute. The fantasy of their team lifting the trophy at the parade is less hazy. There’s Puig being a big ol’ weirdo! And Kershaw can finally take his place with the all time greats! Justin Turner just housed an entire pterodactyl!

I mean, Yankees fans, of all people, think they’re owed a championship. Some of them even believe they’re long-suffering because their last championship was in 2009.

The thing, though, is that winning a championship is, by design, a fleeting thing. Fans get to enjoy it for a couple months before the next season starts, and you go back to the grind. After the rush, it’s like a full dose of pain reliever that slowly fades. To some lunatics, it’s gone by the first losing streak of the next season. I’m a Giants fan and goddamn was 2010, 2012, and 2014 fun. Watching them play atrocious baseball this last year was enough to completely metabolize the rest of the Advil for apparently a vast number of the commenters on the McCovey Chronicles. There was literally a thread the other day about how the recently-announced coaching changes were insufficient because they didn’t “change the culture” of losing. This is the front office and staff that oversaw 3 World Series winners in the last 7 years.

If you want a bracing cocktail of insufferable myopia, go read Real Madrid supporters tweets after they lost to Tottenham yesterday in the Champions League group stage. Holy shit. “No team breaks your heart more than Real Madrid.” Oh for sure, man. Those Celta Vigo or Stoke fans live a charmed life, that’s for sure.

Tottenham Hotspur v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

I have no idea how to deal with any of this. I’m less and less ghoulish about other people’s suffering, even the suffering that is pointless and sociopathic in its selfishness. Because everyone loses, at some point, and the glee I sort of feel at their pain never leads anywhere. It’s not like a World Series loss, or a watching the Penguins raise a Stanley Cup, or experiencing one of the world’s best teams get their ass kicked in Wembley leads to personal growth and maturity. Schadenfreude is the coldest comfort in the world. And elation isn’t a vaccine against future pain.

Hey look, Jumbo has 1400 points, the Sharks won, and Patty scored his 100th game winning goal, tying shithead Jeremy Roenick in career goals

That’s pretty great.