Today we have a guest post by my good friend Gareth Simpson, who’s been watching baseball much longer than I have, and tells us why it’s sometimes more difficult to root for a great team than a bad one.
“I’m not quite sure why I like sports.” This is something I actually thought the other day. I was at a baseball game, appropriately enough, and the team I was rooting for was winning. And I was very nervous. This is because I am a fan of bad teams. I started liking the Seattle Mariners because they were good, and because they were a hundred miles south of me. While the second part is still true, they’ve been a disappointment and a punchline and everything in between for the last decade or so. This is mostly fine with me. It’s a comfortable arrangement, because I don’t really have to care about most of the games, and if something interesting happens I can treat it as a bonus.
Felix Hernandez’s perfect game is a great example of this. Ruhee frantically texted me about it while I was on vacation, and I was able to watch the final inning over 3G on a dock on Lake Okanagan. But at no point was I worried about the Rays getting a hit. This was not only because Felix Hernandez is a force of nature, but because I knew the game was utterly meaningless. It’s the advantage of having low expectations, because if I’m surprised, it’s usually a pleasant surprise. It also helped me deal with the Ichiro Suzuki trade, because Ichiro always seemed like a decent enough guy who happened to be an incredibly good baseball player marooned on an awful team. As much as I like the aforementioned awful team, it seemed unfair to begrudge Ichiro the opportunity to play meaningful baseball games.