Giant Killing 7 – Patience is Tough When Losing is All You Know

There were definitely plenty of angry message board posts after this game!

Sports are funny because so many fans are hyper-passionate about them, and thus the pressure is pushed that much higher, especially when a team has been in a rut for so long that even someone — player or coach — who is any good is immediately elevated to the status of savior in the hopes that the team finally gets the glory that has long eluded it. When everything falls into place, sports fans are extremely loyal, and the athlete or coach practically will be a god of sports in town. But when everything goes bad, especially if they’re bad from the beginning . . . then it gets ugly. Just as sports can show off the best aspects of people, they can also show their most petty.

I laughed at Tatsumi’s, “How many losses in a row can I get before I’m canned?” line because that is exactly how pro sports operate (and college, too, really). The “What have you done for me lately?” mindset is king. Fans pour their hopes and dreams into these teams and raise their expectations to ridiculous levels, and when results are not favorable, they get nervous. They get angry. And coaches get fired, because they’re the obvious scapegoat. Sometimes it’s fair (if a coach loses the players, then that’s it — no point in keeping ‘em around), and sometimes it isn’t (plenty of coaches have been fired because upper management wants to cover its ass).

This phenomenon has always teetered between being interesting and scary for me. I can’t claim to not be prone to the occasional overreaction (as my Twitter followers will attest lol), but overall I’d say I’m a realistic fan. I wait for the team itself to set the expectations; it’s not difficult to tell which teams actually have a shot at winning a championship, and which teams are destined to get curb stomped. (Though there are definite curveballs — nobody expected the Boston Celtics to be this frisky, for instance.) As a basketball fan, I’ve been spoiled (the Lakers have missed the playoffs exactly twice in the past 30 years), but as a baseball fan, I can sort of identify with those who are constantly on edge, waiting for their team to finally grasp victory — my Dodgers last won a title 22 years ago, when I was too young to even know what was happening.

Now, I can admit I haven’t experienced enough losing in my life to really appreciate the sports terrors some fans endure. (Imagine being a Vikings fan during this year’s NFC Championship game? Yikes.) But it’s also inconceivable to me how some people can get so wrapped up in the intensity of following a certain team and expecting nothing but victory and calling for heads when it doesn’t happen. Then again, having never been a fan of an ETU-like team (boy am I glad my dad wasn’t a Clippers fan!), I don’t know that I can say I’d feel the same when even a dollop of hope is crushed year after year.

It’s funny how this mindset has thoroughly infested ETU, from the players to the fans to the management to even the media members covering the team. Covering a winning team is more fun than covering a losing team, yeah, but it’s not as if there are no stories to tell with a losing team. Hell, the best sports book I’ve ever read — The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam — covers a season in which the Portland Trail Blazers were falling apart, and the NBA was shifting to a new era. It’s not a good thing for a journalist to assume there are no stories to tell when the ship is sinking; that’s how someone else gets to them first.

The losing attitude has infected Kuroda as well. It’s ironic how he is antsy to achieve victory, and yet he wants to do it via the philosophy that has guaranteed nothing but losing seasons in the past. Deep down there’s probably a paranoia running through him that he just is not good enough to help the team be victorious. He’s lashing out at other guys without examining his role on the team, and then getting pissy when things don’t go his way. Nobody likes losing; however, Tatsumi’s tricks were successful before the season began. Why not ride them out a bit more?

Whatever the case with paranoia and overreaction, it’s one of the realities of the sports world Tatsumi has to deal with. He seems to have a pretty good grasp of things and thinks the team will turn it around soon. I doubt any of these tricks would work for any team other than one packed to the gills with young’uns, however, haha. Even if he is being a douche, it’s not entirely unexpected for Kuroda to not buy into Tatsumi’s competitive games. FOOTBALL IS SRS BIZ.

10 Responses to “Giant Killing 7 – Patience is Tough When Losing is All You Know”

  1. Kuroda has sort of been billed as 2nd in command to Murakoshi. When Murakoshi was silenced early on he was the first to speak up and try to order everyone. Now with Murakoshi permanently playing the stoic he’s trying to fill the void left. He’s a bit of a control freak in my opinion and he needs someone stronger/better than him to tell him what to do. Which I don’t think is the kind of game Tatsumi thinks ETU should be playing.

    • Yeah, he definitely comes off like he is trying to assert his dominance over the team in the absence of Murakoshi. Too bad he doesn’t have the temperament to lead people.

  2. In the Eastern Conference I’ve been an Indiana Pacers fan as long as I’ve been a Lakers fan (1996, because Shaq left the East to join LAL). The Larry Bird Pacers faced the Lakers in my happiest days as an NBA fan — even though I know Reggie was going to get owned, they were losing to the team who everyone MUST lose to in the finals hehe.

    Since then the Pacers have gone down a downward spiral of suck. Yeah I was watching live when the “Malice in the Palace” happened.

    Just saying that losing sucks, and like that guy who only started watching matches when he found out Tatsumi is back… I find myself becoming less interested in watching Danny Granger backslide from his all-star season.

    The good thing is, my favorite Pacer not Reggie, is now wearing a Lakers uniform ~_^

    • Haha, was Crazy Ron your favorite Pacer? My favorite non-Laker team back in the day was the Houston Rockets, because I loved Hakeem Olajuwon. The things he could do astounded me, and I didn’t even see most of his peak years!

      • Yeah Ron-Ron was my fave Pacer who isn’t Reggie Miller. You can’t believe how stoked I am that Ron wears our colors, without having to give up Lamar Odom.

        Jesus Minci, LOOK AT WHAT WE’RE DOING TO LOS SUNS!!!

  3. I did feel sorry for the fans that travelled all the way to the north to see a game where they suffered a humiliating loss. It is also easy to say that Tatsumi’s strategy isn’t clear at this point. I agree with you, however, that Kuroda needs an attitude adjustment if he is to be a productive member of the team. Bossing people around and being critical is not the same as being a leader.

    • Poor guy is just set in his ways. It’d take a pretty major adjustment for him to change his approach — I’d actually argue that he doesn’t need to change THAT much. It has been shown in previous episodes that there are things he brings to the team (ironically, Kuroda has been shown to help chemistry at important times), but he needs to learn to channel his style for the benefit of the team.

  4. I’m not sure the comparison to the NBA is entirely apt, though the thinking can be the same. With promotion and relegation, teams can go from being absolutely horrible and never winning one season to being able to beat up on the teams a division down the next. However, you get cases where a team can hang around in the top division from year to year being awful and winning maybe 1 of 4 matches and continue to stay up, but never really improving. Only the Clippers would really fit into this historically anyway.

    Tatsumi’s strategy with these games is clearly just to build a winning mentality at something and hoping that transfers over to matches, and it really has nothing to do with the ability of the players.

    • This is where my ignorance of soccer comes in, haha. After getting the basics of relegation, though, I have to say the idea is pretty kickass. We need to get this into the NBA, post haste.

      • You’ll have to either integrate leagues, and break up the league as it is now.

        The table of any international football league is made up of 20 teams IIRC, with lower divisions being similar.

        So if you do it for the NBA, you’d take out most of the expansion teams, and LOL THE NEW YORK KNICKS LOL and mix them with the Development League teams.

        No, I don’t think that’d work either.

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