I have a question: What type of fan are you?
On Monday night, the Rockies were trailing the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County 5-3 going into the eighth inning. It seemed like it was going to be another one of those frustrating games where the Rockies just can’t score enough runs.
Then the Angels’ bullpen developed a sudden allergy to throwing strikes. The bases were loaded for DJ LeMahieu, who improbably pulled a line drive down the left-field line and over the fence for a grand slam. It was now 7-5, and it seemed destined to be one of those miraculous comeback victories that never get old.
Then the Rockies bullpen developed a similar allergy to throwing strikes. Sprinkling a couple of good at-bats from Angels hitters, and a bloop single from former favorite son Eric Young Jr gave the angels in 8-7 lead. It ended up being one of those heartbreaking losses that Rockies fans know all too well from the month of June.
That’s all in one game. The Rockies ended up losing 10-7, and it sparked a discussion among Purple Row staffers: Do the losses hurt more than the victories delight?
For some of us, painful losses mark our identities as fans: a World Series loss sticks in the brain far more than an NLCS victory. That’s why some wonder whether it would be better to miss the playoffs altogether rather than go through the pain of losing another Wild Card game. If you ask a person like this about some of the painful losses this season, they could rattle off four or five of the worst without breaking a sweat. Not only can they remember many of these losses for some of them they can rehash the details with exceptional clarity and accuracy.
Then there are fans like me. I could tell you about a bunch of the big wins for the Rockies this year (as, I’m sure, the previous group of fans could as well). But if you asked me to recount the biggest losses, it would take me more than a few minutes to come up with multiple. And I’m sure that the ones I would come up with would be the more recent losses anyway. I can remember that the Rockies had some painful losses this year, particularly through that rough stretch in June. But if you said to me, “The Eric Thames Game,” I would have to think about which Brewers game we lost to which you are referring, and even then I might not be able to come up with it.
But there’s nothing behind my back. I’ve come to realize that sports are inherently disappointing. The odds are against your team winning a championship in any given year (unless you’re the Golden State Warriors), and when you support a number of historically middling or even poor teams, the odds are even further out of your favor. As such, there has to be something else that brings you back to the games night after night, week after week, disappointment after disappointment.
In the case of the Rockies, that’s watching Nolan Arenado play defense, Carlos González smash a home run to right and drop his bat, and Jon Gray carve up a bunch of Padres. If we’re lucky, will get some dramatic walk-off wins. And if you end up a year like this, where the Rockies are heading into September with a chance at their first-ever division title, the joy of that possibility is only magnified. Granted, the potential disappointments are as well, but watching baseball in this way means that if we don’t get it, hey, we still had a lot of fun this year. And even if we get heartbroken one night, there’s always the chance that the very next night will win a 3-2 pitcher’s duel.
That’s not to cast aspersions on the first group of people I mentioned. There is more than one way to fan, and (with precious few exceptions) they are all perfectly valid for deriving enjoyment out of the sport. Baseball is a gift — a beautiful, frustrating, exhilarating, torturous gift. And like the other gift I’ve been so fortunate to receive in my life, I appreciate baseball most when I receive it with joy.
What about you? Do the losses hurt more than the wins delight, or are you just here for the fun?
What type of fan are you?
This poll is closed
Pessimistic: the loses hurt more than the victories delight
Optimistic: nothing clears away a tough loss like a win