On Baseball's Losing Ways

Wrote Garrison Keillor recently:

It dawns on me that my Minnesota Twins do better if I’m not there cheering for them. I leave town and they have a big winning streak. I go to a game, and our pitcher gets in trouble right away, our clutch hitters hit into double plays with the bases loaded. The team rallies when I go out for a bratwurst, but once I’m back in my seat, our relief ace gives up a cheap home run. This is humbling.

I can’t speak for the Twins, but I know this happens to the Chicago Cubs. I sit down, watch a game on the television, and they lose. And lose badly. And that’s just on television.

I can’t imagine how it would be if I were to see a game in person. The starting pitcher would probably give up a dozen runs in the top of the first. The bullpen would come into play in the second. It would be a long, lonely night, as the Cubs never rallied. And at the end of the nine innings, the game would feel as though it had gone on for hours longer than it had any right, all because I’d gone to the game.

Why is that? Why do people who follow perpetual losers, like the Cubs, feel like they have a personal stake, even a personal responsibility, when they watch their teams lose? Truth is, I don’t know, but it seems to be a common feeling. Partly it could be that for many people watching a game–on television and especially in person–is a rare enough thing, and that gives that particular game a greater emotional connection than it otherwise might. But mainly, it’s just the way the statistics fall. Bad teams are bad. Losing teams lose more often than not. As much as it’s a roll of the dice, in any given game a losing team is probably going to lose. It’s not because I’m watching that the Cubs lose, it’s that they happen to lose while I’m watching that rare game, because they were going to lose that game anyway.

Yet baseball is a game of hope, that the bums of summer will find it in themselves to do the impossible, to tear off a string of wins and contend in the fall. This has not been that year for the Cubs, much to many fans’ chagrin.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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