I'll have to check my phone, but I'm pretty sure I didn't get a call from Jim Zorn yesterday asking what my plan would be against the Panthers. Likewise, I don't remember any calls coming from Camden Yards this summer looking for input about the Orioles. I didn't pick LaRon Landry over Adrian Peterson and I didn't turn the O's into a laughing stock. I am in no way culpable for the demise of my two favorite teams. Likewise, people in Boston or Pittsburgh, cities where they are winning as a mater of course these days, have contributed nothing material to the success of those teams.
So why is it that we let the actions of a bunch of millionaires, who probably wouldn't piss on us if we were on fire, effect our mood so much? I have been a Redskins and Orioles fan for pretty much my entire life. In those 30 odd years, I've seen 3 Superbowls and a World Series title and once could lay claim to two of the most respected franchises in sports. Then Peter Angelos and Dan Snyder came along and ruined each of them in less than a decade. It's not like I got a vote when it came time to see who would helm my much loved teams. They had the money and so now they get to call the shots and in doing so, they have a say in my personal sanity.
A real sports fan will be annoyed and pissy all day after a beating the likes of the one the Skins took yesterday. You don't even want to watch Sports Center because you know you'll have to see it all over again and it will just piss you off again. So there you are, in a shitty mood over an event you had no say in. It's just plain lunacy. It might all be worth it if the highs were as high as the lows are low. When the Redskins or Orioles win a big game I don't feel better about myself. And even if you do feel some level of moral superiority when your team does well (Yankees and Patriots fans, I'm looking at you) it's completely unfounded. You didn't do anything but show up and yell while skilled athletes did their thing hundreds of feet below you.
None of it adds up.
Inky and I were positively gut wrenched as we watched the Cats playing in a tight game a few weeks ago. Neither of us could keep our seats and we were both amazed at how the game had physical ramifications on us. It seemed odd that our hearts raced and our fingers shook as the time slipped away and Geelong held on for a close win. We didn't have to kick or pass the ball, but we were nervous all the same. Once the Cats had secured victory we were happy, maybe even jubilant.
In the days after the game we basked in all the positive coverage of our team. We were happy for our favorite players and in the end, proud of them too. The Geelong Cats were champions of Australia, but by and by we were confronted with our real life problems here in America. A Cats title doesn't pay the mortgage, after all. Nor does it keep cars from breaking down or niggling house problems from popping up. In the end, that's really where the problem exists; to put it into business terms: the risk isn't worth the reward.
Two weeks on from the Cats triumph, I'm pretty much right back to where I was in the lead up to the game. There was no real gain for me, just like I would guess there was no long term gain for Steelers fans a few weeks after their Super Bowl win once they started thinking about their own lives again. Because, after all, it wasn't their accomplishment any more than the Cats win was mine. If Hines Ward or Gary Ablett had to put themselves on the line to secure a victory, they at least had the reward of knowing they made it happen. We, the common fan, can lay no claim to the trophies, rings or medals of achievement. We just stand by and watch.
But, we bear a disproportionate amount of the sadness of the failures. Because, even though the St. Kilda Saints and Arizona Cardinals lost those games, they gave it their all on the field of play. If that isn't enough to keep them sane, then they can cry themselves to sleep on huge their Scrooge McDuck-style piles of money. We fans still have to punch the time card and shake our head while we say stuff like: "Fucking Jason Campbell" or "How is it that Harold Baines can't get a run in from third with no outs in a tie game?" or "how the fuck did Cam Mooney miss those goals on either side of half time?"
We all need a Good Will Hunting style intervention. We need sit on the couch telling Robin Williams all about the '97 O's, the '08 Cats or the Skins since Danny came to town with the steely resolve of a tough kid from an even tougher part of town. He stands up and walks over to us, and says "It's not your fault." Even as we protest, he just keeps saying "It's not your fault" and hugs us as we begin to weep. Then, magically, we're fixed and we can ditch our friends to drive across country for some British trim. I've seen it a million times. Now, if I could just get Robin Williams on the phone, after all, the Skins have 11 more games to play this year.