Allie Davidson, Jed McKeehan, Lisa Gross, and Zack Davis @SportsProfs / sportsprofs[at]yahoo[dot]com / Find us on Facebook: The Sports Professionals
by Jed McKeehan
Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday. Actually it was three days ago. My Cubbies are playing away at Cincinnati and clinging to a 2-1 lead going in to the bottom of the ninth. The Cubs starting pitcher, Carlos Villanueva with his incredible mustache, has pitched a phenomenal game. If you know anything about the Cubs, you know what happens.
Mistake Number One: They send Villanueva back out for the ninth to face the top of the order. First batter walks. “We’re still okay,” I tell myself. The next batter lays down a sacrifice bunt and advances the tying run into scoring position. “That’s alright, only two more outs to go,” I pray.
Mistake Number Two: The Cubs insert the Human Blown-Save, Carlos Marmol into the game. The very first batter he faces is the 2010 MVP, Joey Votto. “Just walk him! Set up the double play!” my mind shouts at the TV. I can feel the dread and hopelessness welling up inside of me. Please, Cubs, don’t meet all of my expectations…yep, single to right field that glances off the diving second baseman’s glove. Tie ball game. Pan to Villanueva in the dugout, expressionless, arms folded, and hat pulled low over his eyes. Son of a……!!!! I immediately turn the TV off and lie awake in bed for another 20 minutes, fuming. How dare they do that to me again!
The next morning I wake up and do my obligatory checking of the box score to confirm and validate my sour mood, and to my delight the Cubs scored 2 runs in the top of the tenth and won 4-2! Well I’ll be.
But let’s go back to the reason I turned off the TV. Have you ever been there with me? Tell me you have. You invest so much of yourself into a team and their performance that it literally sickens you to watch them lose, or even fall behind! As a general manager, the famous Jerry West, “The Logo” of NBA basketball, never watched his team’s games because he was so invested in the team he couldn’t stand to see them lose. Billy Beane, of “Moneyball” fame, to this day does the exact same thing. I remember a Cubs game I attended in Atlanta where Randy Wells for the Cubs had a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and then I endured watching the Cubs lose the lead in the ninth and eventually lose in extra innings. I had to stand out in the concourse in the tenth and eleventh innings and just breathe because I was so angry I was shaking.
Sometimes I even try to sit there and watch in disgust to the bitter end, telling myself that I need to stick it out, that there’s still hope. It’s like someone is ripping my soul out. When the Bartman incident happened, the Cubs were still winning, and it was like someone had just killed my dog. People forget that that was only Game 6 of the series. There was still a Game 7 to be played. It didn’t matter; Cubs fans knew. People tell me how amazing the “30 for 30” on it was, and I just can’t bring myself to watch it.
Which brings me to my real question: is it even healthy for me to watch sports? I love sports! I enjoy watching my teams win. I’m resigned to my teams losing. But what’s my draw? What is it that keeps bringing me back to turn on the TV to watch the Cubs lose again, and again, and again? I saw the image to the side here posted online the other day of one boy having just hit a game winner and started to begin his celebration while the catcher starts his despair. Funny….and sad. But the comment below it about how 100 defeats are worth just one euphoric victory was just so dead on. I couldn’t agree more.
What if your team has an improbable win? What if your favorite player hits the game-winning shot? What if you get to be in the arena when a miracle happens? What if during my lifetime the Cubs actually did win it all? Here is where I direct you to click on the link in the sentence before. I’ll wait for you. Watched it? It gave me chill bumps. It brought tears to my eyes. That possibility, the thrill of victory, the camaraderie of endeavoring as fans together and reveling in those special moments-that is why we endure those heart-wrenching moments. Because they’re worth it.