I have to believe there is a lesson in all of this. This futile exercise of a baseball season such as this one has merit. You don’t often see the reference of losing teams, but you believe it’s there. The ballclub trots out the dregs and slumps its shoulders at the results and we’re here watching it all unfold.
Winning is for the fans, it’s the loss that makes the player.
I’m not sure if anyone actually believes that. Anyone who has picked up a ball with any sort of determination knows the fear of losing and the actual loss itself are two very different things. You could argue that the fear of the loss is worse. What you build in your head, scaling an ever mounting pressure wall is the type of stuff that can drive you insane. The loss in itself isn’t as bad. The band-aid has been pulled off, the wound exposed, but at least you can heal.
So is there a point to all this? Does the loss really make the player? I wager most people recall the wins in their life as if drawing together images in faded polaroid’s and grainy canned emotions. But the defeats are presented in full Technicolor on a sixty foot screen. This is in our DNA. A holdover from an evolutionary crutch that reminded our ancestors of such important things like, “Lion bad, lion hurt.” What it’s transcended to now is a catalog of more complex and layered warnings.
Fear and pain stick with us because it’s a survival mechanism. Letting it all go to instinct and we adapt. In that sense you could make the claim that perhaps a loss, humiliation and heart-break are all stepping stones to attainment. The kicker of all this, is that no one wants to go through these pitfalls. Evolution is a tricky thing to overcome, hard wiring your brain yourself and going against what’s innate demands a level of concentration few of us can grasp, but I suppose that’s why there are so few professional athletes in the world. It’s there business to overcome what we mere mortals can’t, both physically and mentally.
But no one is perfect, we all lose at some point. You’re going to crash and it’s going to be embarrassing and all the girls are going to laugh at you. We also know that it’s going to stick in your brain in vivid texture and be recalled at the most inopportune times. But this is all here for a reason and it’s all going to make sense in the end. Our caveman wiring protected us from grizzly bears in the past and now it’s warning us about elevated fastballs out of the zone.
The fans watch the game as an escape. This is entertainment. They don’t make their living on it they watch and cheer because there is a chance they will win. Your boss chews you out, someone scratched your car in the parking lot, you got a speeding ticket on the way home, but hey the Reds won, so I guess it isn’t all bad. Winning is instant gratification for the fan a loss is just a pain we can’t learn from. There are enough things to deal with on a personal level, let alone having to be reminded of defeat when your elective activities haunt you.
But perhaps I’m being too hasty. I’ve watched the Reds my entire life and seen more bad times than good and I’m still a fan. I still choose to make them an active part of my existence. Are there more evolutionary triggers happening to the fan? You could make the point that we’re preparing for the bad times. The real bad times. Like watching a horror movie, the viewer subconsciously is preparing for a disaster. When the Reds blow a five run lead in the eighth inning is our psyche setting the table for something else? These little dings and dents show us that it’s possible to live through loss. We aren’t going to be maimed if we watch our team loses, perhaps it’s good to just be reminded of that.
No hero worth their salt ever existed without defeat. To err is human. Our city and cultural defenders are already knee deep in a rough season, but hope is not lost. The fire is being fanned as each loss burns the organization, but the greats are born from the ashes. As much as we say we want to already forget about this season, lets not. Instead, lets embrace the pain and suffering. Alter your circuitry to be different than the rest. Know that you can’t taste the sweet without the sour and when you think you can’t take anymore, do just that. A tough hide doesn’t develop through coddling and if Cincinnati is anything it’s resilient.