Tuesday, May 15, 2012
"I hate people, especially men!"
Those were the words I heard MY WIFE say as I sat in the bedroom having my first cigarette of the day. She could have been talking about me polluting the air, but she wasn't. Instead, she was referring to the men on her radio. They were discussing the Boston Celtics.
Some background: We attended last night's playoff game between the Celtics and the Philadelphia 76'ers. The Celtics, for the most part, did not play a game you would want to show to kids as an example of great basketball. Still, they came close to winning, the final score being 82 - 81 in favor of Philly.
I guess the guys on the radio were bemoaning the loss, possibly tossing in a few adjectives which expressed dismay at the C's level of execution. And MY WIFE took exception.
"Oh! We lost! It's the end of the world! The Celtics suck! We loved them yesterday, but now they're bums!"
I was on my way to the shower, naked. I instinctively covered my junk.
"What is the matter with men?", she continued. "They lost by ONE point! It's like beating a child because it got an A minus!"
I think I probably rolled my eyes at this point, because she said, "Oh! You think I don't get it, right?"
I said, "Well, you do... but you don't."
I then ducked into the bathroom and closed the door, taking the coward's way out, while she made annoyed animal sounds in the kitchen.
Here's the thing, my darling. There are only two possible outcomes in any sport. You either win or lose. The Celtics lost. You, unfortunately, confuse our male disappointment, over a loss, with a hatred of those human beings who went down to defeat. You think that because we are sad about losing, and have chosen to express our dismay verbally in a somewhat uncomplimentary manner, that we no longer respect the players as human beings.
That is not the case.
Despite the invective, fans do not hate a player or a team because of a failure to win (unless the player is an absolute churl who doesn't give a damn about the fans, such as Josh Beckett.) We have involved ourselves with the outcome of these games. We have made conscious decisions, for whatever odd reasons, to wish for one team or another to emerge victorious at the end of the day. When that doesn't happen, we need to vent our emotions. Sometimes we choose a non-playing scapegoat - a referee, a coach, or perhaps a player's spouse (which is, now that I think of it, not someplace I want to go while trying to defend men) - but, more often than not, we understand that the end result of a contest came about because of how the players did or did not meet expectations.
If we didn't expect much in the first place, there won't be much complaining. As a matter of fact, we will laud a valiant losing effort. Tragic heroes are OK; ask any pre-2004 Red Sox fan. When we expect a team to win, however, and that team fails to play to the levels of which they are capable, we tend to feel somewhat cheated.
Now, I'm not saying I feel cheated by how the Celtics performed last night. Personally, I think any win they capture, from this point in the playoffs onward, is worthy of applause. If this team somehow manages to capture the NBA championship, it should be celebrated in song for the next century. The banner raised to the rafters at The Garden should be edged in gold, studded with emeralds, and be put in a position about a half-foot higher than the other 17 it will join. This Celtic's squad is playing on (as Kevin Garnett described what it took the win a previous playoff game this year) grit and balls. Paul Pierce has a badly sprained MCL, Ray Allen is running and jumping on bone spurs in his ankle, and Avery Bradley dislocates his shoulder every other game. Greg Stiemsma, Garnett's best replacement off the bench, has been battling severe foot pain for a month. As a result, he can't play as much (or, at least, not as much as effectively) and that results in Garnett, the guy on the team with the most mileage on his body (17 seasons in the league) playing more minutes per game than coach Doc Rivers would prefer. Mickael Pietrus suffered a hideous concussion against these same 76'ers a while back. It is the opinion of some, including Celtics announcer Tommy Heinsohn, that he still isn't 100%. There are other, smaller, injuries to deal with on the bench. So, believe me, I have nothing but respect and admiration for most of these guys even playing, let alone winning as they have been. In sporting terms, they have been mightily heroic.
That having been said, though, the last two games have been ugly. The Celtics have had small spurts of brilliance surrounded by large bunches of not getting the job done. We could go on for pages about why the goods haven't been delivered, but I suspect that would qualify as another reason for MY WIFE to hate men (and maybe the paragraph previous to this one already gave her more fuel for her fire; I don't know.) The bottom line for most of us, as fans, is that the Celtics were somewhat lucky to win Game One (it was luck, combined with lots of heart, Kevin Garnett somehow apparently shedding 10 years off his age, and some seriously intelligent play by Rajon Rondo) and that they probably should have won Game Two, but failed to do so because they fell apart at the seams in the third quarter last night. They staged a valiant comeback, but still committed enough mental errors to earn them some form of enmity from radio announcers who are paid, after all, to say the sorts of things at which people such as MY WIFE get mad.
I love The Celtics. MY WIFE loves them, too. But hers isn't the same sort of love, and I guess that's just the way it is. She gets it, but she doesn't get it. Men sometimes love differently than women. No shame in that for either sex (or for those who love as the opposite sex does, I suppose, but let's not delve too deeply there, as that's another can of worms altogether.) No argument that some women are just as passionate in their fandom as any man, but the great majority of goofy-ass over-the-top rabid dress-up-in-ridiculous-costumery fans are male.
Yes, MY WIFE, we both wear green shirts to the game, and you've gone as far as to wear green shamrock dealyboppers - and I applaud you for that fashion decision - but come on. As a whole, my sex takes it to another level entirely and that's just the way it is. We love you women despite Lifetime TV. Cut us some slack, too. Stop being a hater.
Soon, with more better stuff.