Sports

COMMENTARY: Relax, the sun will probably still rise October 5

Rooting for a losing team is a mighty tricky business. As sports fans, we initially sign up to follow a team through the championship years and the no-chance-at-playoffs years; just as you can’t truly appreciate the good until you’ve had the bad, you can’t truly feel the pure joy of finally bringing home the championship trophy unless you’ve endured many seasons of almosts. But what if you wait and wait, yet see no signs of change? No signs of improvement? What if your team can’t even reach the “almost” mark?

Take, for example, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates have played 12 games as of today and, as expected, they are hovering about the .500 mark in the win percentage column. Given the recent history of the franchise, I doubt many are surprised. The banner on the Pirates’ website boasts: “Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.” Ironic, for a team that averaged 52.4 percent of full attendance capacity last season. Yes, I see the Pirates, but where’s the pride and the passion? I stepped into PNC Park last week, but sensed only nonchalance and heard “oh well” sighs. After 16 seasons of sub-.500, can fans throw in the towel without guilt of disloyalty?

The way I see it, you have two options: hang on to that last barely visible thin thread of hope, or just relax.

I’m with option A. As a New York Mets fan, it’s quite a challenge to try to make sense of the last two season-ending collapses. This off-season, the world champion Philadelphia Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels called the division rival Mets “choke artists.” Such a public insult really isn’t going to help Hamels’ chances of becoming my favorite pitcher, but at the current time, I can’t much dispute his claim. The Mets have to do better in September and October, but whether or not they do, I’ll still follow the team next season. Not everyone is cut out for sticking through such a ridiculous way to lose a division pennant or long stretches of being ordinary. However, it takes a lot of character, you know?

In all seriousness, while the sports fan in me would never admit to this in public, there’s no shame in option B. At the end of the day, sports is just entertainment. If you’re tired of your team choking or not investing in improving, then pick another team or enjoy the game with no strings attached. For the baseball fans out there, whether you’re a Pirates fan or not, PNC Park is still a beautiful stadium and baseball is still baseball. Do you remember when you were a kid and just being at the game was enough? You got your tickets at the box office, ate hot dogs like you’d never tasted anything better, and watched in awe as the athletes played ball under the stadium lights. When did we stop appreciating such an idyllic game?

Just remember, if the Pirates don’t make the playoffs this season and October 4 is the last game, the sun will still rise October 5.

Now if the Mets don’t make the playoffs, that’s a whole other story....