It's kinda nice to root for a loser

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Fulton County Stadium empty.jpgI disagree with Charles Krauthammer on almost everything, but he and I are hand in hand about the pleasure of rooting for a losing team. He’s a Nats’ fan, you see, and though he’d like to see some winning baseball, he’s just fine if it takes its sweet time arriving:

I go for relief. For the fun, for the craft and for the sweet, easy cheer at Nationals
Park. You get there and the twilight’s gleaming, the popcorn’s popping, the
kids’re romping and everyone’s happy. The joy of losing consists in
this: Where there are no expectations, there is no disappointment . . . No one’s happy to lose, and the fans cheer lustily when the Nats win.
But as starters blow up and base runners get picked off, there is none
of the agitation, the angry, screaming, beer-spilling, red-faced ranting
you get at football or basketball games.

The Braves have either been a winning team or a respectable team for 19 years now, but my love affair with baseball was solidified between 1985 and 1990 when they sucked eggs night-in, night-out. I didn’t go to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and take it in like Krauthammer does the Nats, but I got something close to the low-leverage, amiable experience watching on TBS each night. Even the sound production on those broadcasts seemed designed to be low key and to lower expectations.

Krauthammer’s best line in the piece is “you root, root, root for the home team, but if they don’t win ‘it’s a
shame’ — not a calamity.”  I totally dig that. Don’t get me wrong: I want my team to win. But unlike the way I get during Ohio State’s football season, I can enjoy baseball even if they don’t, because it truly is a pastime more than it is a sport as that term has come to be thought of. There are winners and losers, but all the fans win for having been able to take in the ballgame.

It’s a great show. It’s a great experience. And in some weird way, it’s almost more enjoyable when the expectations are at their lowest.  If I lived in D.C. or Pittsburgh or Kansas City I’d probably buy Nats’ season tickets to get a taste of that.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.