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.