Winning Baseball Hasn't Made Me Happy
July 10, 2014
During a conversation with a work colleague this week I stated the following about my beloved Orioles: "If they could get their starting pitching together, they'd be in good shape." To which he replied, "Aren't they in first place?"
The Orioles scored six runs in the 11th inning the night before, three of them via home run, and I was talking about the team's pitching woes. Mind you, they had allowed only two runs in that same game. And yes, they were and are still in first place. I should have been reveling; instead I was ruminating.
That's when it hit me: Winning baseball hasn't made me happy, it's simply made me less unhappy.
For years, 14 of them to be precise, I fooled myself into thinking that all I really needed from the Orioles was a .500 record or better. Sure, that might not put them in the playoffs, but remove the odor of losing and I'd be a guy who could stop and smell the roses as well as, if not better, than any other baseball fan out there. The grass would truly be greener, and the ballpark hot dogs would even taste better, too.
I scoffed at successful franchises who dared bemoan, well, anything. Perennial winners received zero sympathy. Only scorn. Didn't they realize how good they had it?
I've had it pretty good as a baseball fan for nearly three years now, so what do I say after an uplifiting win in extra innings? "Yeah, but."
I'm not suffering from a complete lack of perspective. I haven't gone all Rolling Stones and claimed an inability to get satisfaction. However, I'm also not singing "You've Made Me So Very Happy" to the television each night to thank the Orioles for their, ahem, Blood Sweat and Tears.
Baseball, and sports in general, are funny that way. We fans are rarely satisfied. It's like an endless loop of sports talk radio. Anyone who seems content is drinking the Kool Aid. There are no moral victories, only victories. Win a championship and someone will complain about the route the victory parade took through town.
Yankees fans cheer for the most successful franchise in all of sport. Do they seem like a particularly happy lot to you? Even with 27 championships, that still amounts to winning it all about a quarter of the time given how long they've been around. That leaves 75 percent of the time to be disgruntled.
It's not specific to baseball. UNC won the national championship in basketball the year that my wife and I moved to North Carolina. I spoke with a neighbor about the win just two days after the team cut down the nets, and she was already fretting about their prospects for the following season. On the rare, blissful occasion when the season didn't end with "Wait 'Til Next Year," she was asking "What About Next Year?"
The Orioles haven't won a World Series since 1983. They haven't played in the ALCS since 1997. It's fine for me to want more than what I had been asking just a few years ago; however, I should be at least a little bit more content.
The Orioles brought back the smiling bird logo in 2012. I should practice being more of a smiling fan.