I have been a fan of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball and UK basketball since I can remember. The two entities couldn’t be more opposite. One has 8 national titles and is almost always in contention. The other has a similarly glorious past, but has most recently become synonymous with losing and cheapness.
But oddly, I enjoy following both.
First, I enjoy the games. I love baseball just as a game. I love basketball too. And while I will save the other sports, I do enjoy football and hockey and golf and so forth. I enjoy them. I like to watch people play them and when capable I like to play myself.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Most sports fans are miserable unless the team is winning at high levels. Which means by sheer percentages and odds that: most sports fans are miserable.
Let’s start with the Cats where success has lead to mostly unrealistic expectations of future success and a misinterpretation of past success. Folks tend to misremember the long ago as a time when UK won every game every time. They didn’t.
But even when they didn’t, it was still fun, or at least it could’ve been had we let it. I loved watching those guys play…Mel Turpin and Kenny Walker and Sam Bowie and the like. As a child I idolized them and hung on their every shot. I was disappointed when they lost. But I loved them just the same. And sprinkled in the season were so many great moments that I found it impossible not to count them successes.
But today we seem to live in a Ricky Bobby sort of world. I guess if you are not first, your are last. Sad really. Because people are missing out on so much joy, so much enjoyment.
Of course, one may argue, UK at least wins 75-80% of their games. What about the Bucs? They have been pretty miserable for the most of my 43 years on Earth. But, every single season I have ever watched them has brought moments of joy.
I loved watching Tony Pena catch and Johnny Ray play 2nd and Rick Reuschel pitch and Rick Rhoden pitch and hit. And even in the worst of years, I got to see 60 or so wins. And many of them were awesome.
Who can forget Rob Mackowiak belting a GW Grand Slam on the day his son was born and then homering in the 2nd game too?
Or opening day in St. Louis when the Bucs rallied to win late thanks to a big Jack Wilson hit. Or Brian Giles walking off the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen with a Slam against Houston. Or my personal favorite…the combined no-no with a Mark Smith clinching homer in the midst of the Freak Show run at the division title?
I guess if championships are all that count then all of that was for naught. But it wasn’t. Because it was one day when my team did great things. And it was fun.
Which in its genesis is why we became fans at all. I think. Because the individual game itself is fun.
So, why not enjoy it folks? Don’t spend all your time fretting over whether or not UK will win it all or whether Bob Nutting will ever spend any cash. Just enjoy the game and the day and the opportunity to live in a place where these are opportunities that we have. Enjoy it for what it is…just a game.