Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm A Fan, I'm A Man, What Can I Say?

"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.


Tabor said...

Sports are on such another planet for me. I used to be a big college sports fan...somehow evolved out of that, but really do not like all the talking heads after the game. Just me. No reflection on those who love sports.

Michelle H. said...

Wow, I get you, but I still don't get into basketball anymore. All I heard in this post was... something... something... something... sex... something... something... something... walking around naked... something... something... animal noises.

I much rather prefer that you talk about softball. I can get into the swinging your bat and getting to first base thing WAY better.

Craig said...

I am always a big advocate of fanly perspective. Which is to say, losing Game 2 of a 7-game series at home is certainly not ideal, but hardly a catastrophe. Those aren't the '72 Lakers you're playing. It puts the onus on the Celts to go win at least one in Philly, but it's not like that's the Impossible Dream. . .

I understand some of what YOUR WIFE is saying. It's like listening to the sports-talk stations in Detroit, with the Tigers playing .500 ball, and not hitting, when they were supposed to score 2.7 million runs by adding Prince Fielder to their already-potent lineup, and nobody was supposed to score a run against us, because Justin Verlander was gonna start every game and go 162-0, with an ERA of minus-5. The hitters haven't hit (but they certainly will, at some point), and the bullpen has been awful (Doug Fister is 0-1 with an 0.54 ERA - that's two no-decisions and a loss in three starts, in which he has allowed exactly one run). So what are the fans saying? "Jim Leyland is a #@$%&*@ moron!" 'Cuz, you know, it's HIS FAULT that the hitters aren't hitting, and the bullpen is throwing gasoline on every fire. Even though we're a game out of first in our division, while playing like crap. See, if Terry Francona were our manager, we'd be 35-5, just like Sparky and the guys were back in '84; Hell, we'd be 39-1. And Cabrera and Fielder would both have 46 homers and 296 RBIs, with 3/4 of the season left to play. . . There are days when I just have to turn the radio off. Which makes for one boring-ass hour-plus commute. . .

Sorry for the rant, Jim. . . you just hit one of my hot-buttons, just lately. . .

joeh said...

OK, this borders on brilliant, but most women stopped reading when you ducked into the bathroom. They will never get it.

My ex-wife did not only NOT get sports, sports made her angry!

Drop everything for a Labor Day sale at Macys, but "Will you come to dinner NOW, there will be another World Series game 7 next year! Honestly, you men and your stupid sports!"

Great post
Cranky Old Man

Hilary said...

Blank stare. Smile. Nod.

I admit.. I absolutely don't get it - despite your bathroom-sheltered explanation. Not to mention several "But honey, it's like this.." kind of one-sided chats with/from Frank. I still stare blankly, then smile and nod.

But thanks for trying. :)

Suldog said...

Joeh - I mention this probably at risk of maintaining familial harmony, but MY WIFE, as much as she gets into sports on her own, and tries to get into sports for love of me, just doesn't quite understand that the last two minutes of any game is equivalent to the climax of a movie or stage production. Whereas she would be livid to go the theater and have someone talking to her during that portion of the proceedings, she thinks absolutely nothing of talking during the final few seconds of a game on the TV. So long as I know the outcome it's OK, is I guess how she thinks of it. No, that's like putting Romeo & Juliet on in the background, having a conversation, then saying, "Well, they died", and thinking that takes care of it.


Michelle H. said...

Okay now, give your wife a little slack. I don't believe she's upset with the sport itself. It just irritates women that tv people talk on and on about it ad naseum. I'm mean, really, do we need to hear about it on every radio station and 20 sports channels about one highlight reel moment? It's not the same like she'll go home from the theater and catch the news highlights of Romeo and Juliet.

Daryl Edelstein said...

so sorry for your loss ..there's always next year ..

Stephen Hayes said...

My wife and I watch the Superbowl for the commercials, the World Series and the Oregon Ducks because our son went to school there, but that's the extent of our sports addiction.

Skip said...

It's kinda funny how inspiration is derived from some posts...

...and not from others.

Then again maybe I'm just being a turtle?

Buck said...

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.

True that, and said decisions are made out of love. Always.

There IS a Dark Side, too... in that we wish inglorious, embarrassing, ignominious defeat on our opponents. The more of the three, especially of the "E" variety, the better.

Shammickite said...

I agree with what Michelle said.
There's a hockey radio station here where all they do is talk about hockey and have hockey fans call in and talk some more about hockey.
Sometimes my son calls in.
And he talks about hockey.
Oh sorry, were you talkiing about basketball?
I only know hockey.

lime said...

as one who admittedly does NOT get it, i understand your wife. that said, thanks for explaining that you don't actually think less of the guys who lose unless they are basic losers across the board in their general character. but really, i have to agree with the other fine michelle commenting here does the analysis really have to go on 4x as long as the actual game did? or for days and days after?

but my favorite part of this post is picturing you tucking and running down the hall in fear of your manbits and her ranting in the kitchen.

and for one more point of clarity...i LOATHE the lifetime network. seriously, i do. i get that even less than i get some sports. it makes me feel like my IQ is slipping.

messymimi said...

Men's and women's brains work differently, and see sports differently. Different doesn't mean better or worse.

Enjoy your sports, and your differences.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

As a defender of the female sports fandom I can safely say that none of us cut players any more slack than a man does - we laugh/cry/scream/judge/high-five players even if we're only doing it from the comfort of our sofa. However, with that being said, (and I'm only speaking for myself here so take that for what it is) I think the reason there is the difference is because women stop talking about it once its over. Right away? No, not a chance. When the Bruins lost in round 1 my Aunt & I chatted for a day on and off about the articles released about their "demise" and all the reasons we thought they lost (like the Celtics, countless major injuries to major players came at very bad times...not to mention who wins back to back Cups? That is not easy). But after our brief self-consoling we moved on. Neither of us cared if Timmy not going to the White House had to do with their loss, if they could get rest & come back next year right as rain. We just moved on to the next thing (in my case cheering for the Coyotes since I live here now) and stopped analyzing it.

None of the sports gals I know retain stats like guys do. I'll never forget that we won a Cup in 2011 but ask me who was on the team that year 10 years from now and MAYBE a handful of names will come to mind (as evidenced by the '04 Sox roster not swimming in my head any longer & I think its safe to say that was the biggest moment in Boston sports history). The difference between men's & women's fandom is in the retention of caring about the who & what for years to come.

And I will say that I've never gotten my face painted black & gold either :-)

jamiessmiles said...

I hate sports in general. I cann watch a live game of my city team and get into it, but beyond that, could care less who wins or lose, I just shout for my team, because it is my city. I know none of the players, have no expectations and average 2 football games and 1 hockey game a year as a social thing, or something I take my kid brother to. But after having a brother in hockey I can say I get your wife. Rabid sports fans are like hockey parents. Scary to behold.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

I'm with you every step of the way on this one, Sully. Glad you Chowds have seen the light (or is it dark?) on Josh Beckett. That guy's been a punk for years.

I'm kind of upset with the Yankees right now for their general lack of fire but fortunately the L.A. Kings are keeping my mind off the Bombers for another week or so.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Totally with you on this one Sully. It's the rare woman indeed who can truly appreciate the intricacies of fan-dom. As we speak, I'm fairly upset at the lethargic way the Yankees have been playing lately. Fortunately, the L.A. Kings have provided a thrilling distraction and will hopefully be hoisting Lord Stanley's prize in a few more games. That's one parade I would NOT miss out on.

Celtics said...

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. Great stuff!