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The benefits of rooting for a losing team

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What's worse: failure on the big stage or never reaching the stage at all?

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Fair warning, I'm going to be talking about football here for a minute, but I swear I'll tie it in to the Rockies.

Last weekend was a major bummer, sports-wise. The Denver Broncos, after crafting yet another AFC West-winning season, were dismantled by the Indianapolis Colts. After 18 weeks of trial and tribulation, the team was eliminated in front of their home crowd. And it wasn't a well played loss; Andrew Luck dragged the D's sorry butts up and down the field all day, and Peyton Manning looked like a guy who should be playing golf, not football. It was yet another big-stage loss, and the pain was enormous.

And then, not even 24 hours later, my beloved Oregon Ducks got stomped by a third string quarterback in the National Championship. After dominating Florida State in the Rose Bowl, it really felt like this would be the year that Oregon nailed down that elusive national title -- with Marcus Mariota primed to declare for the draft, this had better be the year. It was not to be. Like the Broncos, Oregon looked flat out bad against the other team. It did not feel like a battle of equals, it felt like varsity taking on JV.

Both teams, Broncos and Ducks, delivered strong, memorable seasons filled with highlight reel moments and thrilling victories. They won far more than they lost. They received oodles of fawning national attention up until their downfalls. But all I remember is the pain. Because playoff appearances and Rose Bowl victories are nice, but they aren't the measure of a good year once you build a strong team. Titles are the measure of a good year. If the last game of the year is a loss, you haven't succeeded. And the pain of that failure is compounded tenfold when you're SO. DAMN. CLOSE. Experiencing that pain twice in the span of a day left me emotionally demolished.

Oh, and you might remember last year's Super Bowl. That debacle left me -- and I'd guess most of Denver -- ruined. I actually cried that day, sometime during the third quarter. And I hadn't cried since about 8th grade, if you don't count that one time I watched Dear Zachary on Netflix. If that's the price I have to pay to follow a playoff team, then maybe I'd be better off rooting for a loser.

And THAT'S the perfect segue to the Rockies. The good old Rockies. Good old haven't-had-a-season-worth-investing-in-in-five-years Rockies. No emotional hay-makers to the gut with the Rockies (except maybe for Tulo's annual season-ending injury). With the Rockies you just get a steady stream of mediocrity. They win some, they lose some, and none of it gets me too riled up, because the thought of winning the World Series never even factors into the equation. I can enjoy the game on its many aesthetic levels without the fear of heartbreak. Lukewarm coffee isn't as good as hot coffee, but at least there's no chance of getting burned.

This is obviously absurd. I don't want the Rockies to be bad. I want them to be good. I want them in the playoffs and fighting for that World Series victory. I want to watch a parade roll through LoDo. The last time a team I rooted for won a title was the 2001 Avalanche, and I was 11 at the time and I didn't really care about hockey. I can hardly imagine the joy of watching a team I've devoted hundreds of hours to watching and following finally win it all.

But I've grown cynical. The last fifteen years of Denver sports has been a cavalcade of dashed hopes and dreams. The Broncos make the playoffs all the time, but can't get over the hump. The one time the Rockies made the World Series they got embarrassed on national television. The Nuggets had a long run of good-but-not-good-enough with 'Melo and Karl. The Ducks can't win the big game. Whenever a team I root for reaches for a title the universe swats it down, like a mean-spirited toddler.

But if the team can't reach for the title, it can't be swatted down. No expectations are better than dashed expectations. So here's to you, Rockies. You don't ask me to roll that boulder up the hill every year, just to watch it come tumbling back down; you let me lay down, put my feet up, and watch a baseball game in peace.

But if you sign James Shields...well...maybe then my hopes will go up a little bit...