But in the End, It’s Just Sports

I love sports. But sports fans – well, sometimes they can be a pain.

Too often when I’m out in public watching sports, I think someone should pump some gaseous estrogen into the room, because there’s just way too much testosterone flowing along with the cheap beer. Even when I’m with my own “nation” (Red Sox Nation, that is), the atmosphere can be a little trying.

My brother, on a good day

My brother, on a good day

Case in point: We went to a local, well-known Red Sox haunt to watch the debacle that was the 2nd game of the ALCS (which was unfortunately followed by an even worse catastrophe; who knows what’s in store for tonight’s game, though I’m sure by the time you read this, the verdict will be in on whether this season is, for all intents and purposes, kaput). Now, the bar has its own problems, which added to the frustrations (you call yourself a Red Sox bar and only have one bottle of Harpoon IPA for a Saturday night playoff game?!). And to be fair, most of the folks sitting by us actually seemed quite nice. But that one guy behind me – did we really need so much detail about your friend’s waking up drunk in a hotel room and deciding it was okay to piss on the carpet? And your discovery of it the next day? And the guy next to you: I don’t know who Driscoll or Dunaway or Duggin is, but did you have to say his name every third word? Were you afraid of forgetting it?

I suppose, compared to some barroom experiences, these were pretty minor infractions. And surely Red Sox fans are (biased opinion here, of course), nothing like Cubs fans. The ones who go to that hellhole of a stadium (the most overrated attraction in this great city, and the subject of a later post) and spend more time on their phones than watching the game. The ones who really think an Old Style draft (shudder) is worth drinking even when it’s not the last beer left on the planet. And especially the fans I’ve heard since their beloved team’s sweep in the first round. The pathetic verbiage that has spewed from some of them – simply appalling.

Let’s say the guy on eBay selling his loyalty was just a publicity hound. The Tribune and WGN, though, had quotes from so-called fans who said they couldn’t take it anymore. Couldn’t take the anguish from year to year. And especially this year, when the Cubs had the best record in the NL, and then couldn’t do squat in the post season. That’s it, their hearts were broken for the last time. No more. They were no longer Cubs fans.

What a bunch of wussies.

OK, I know there are some die-hards who will be back next year. But these people with the public denouncements of “their” team…you want to talk about heartbreak? Watch your team get into the World Series four times over 40 years, reach the seventh game each time, then lose. That is a painful toying with your emotions no one should ever experience. That is cruel and unusual punishment. But that is not grounds for giving up on your team, if you are a true fan. Never. Red Sox fans endured that hellish scenario from 1946 to 1986 (‘86, oh ‘86 – tears flowed from your author-in-crisis then, I assure you), and none that I know ever pulled a Roberto Duran and cried, “No mas.” We stayed with them because we were true fans. And we had a distant hope they would some day win, even as we knew they would always find some way to lose.

Roberto Duran as Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta

Roberto Duran as Robert DeNiro as Jake LaMotta

And then came 2004. And 2007. And vindication.

Cubs fans, true fans, the lesson is, as we denizens of former Puritan lands know, never count on the Lord’s blessing. Expect that you are not one of the elect. Something awful awaits you as your ultimate fate. But live your life as if you are chosen. As if someday you will receive your reward. Then savor it when you do. And all you supposed fans jumping ship because of this year’s loss – I hope some guy named Driscoll or Dunaway pisses in your hotel room.

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~ by mburgan on October 15, 2008.

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