Think, if you will, of the most mediocre roster to ever compete…in the NFL.
Every winter, they’d finish up with eight wins. Eight losses, too. Sometimes, it might be good enough to let them go on beyond Week 16, but they just wouldn’t win in further competition. Possibly one winter might see nine wins…but the next would bring seven. The epitome of .500 clubs, in other words.
Now think of how it would feel to root for them. Only twice per month, once if you got lucky, would you see them lose. Two evenings glowering in front of the TV. It wouldn’t be so horrible, would it?
When July wound down, you’d get excited. September would bring victory, October see struggles, November success, December…less success. Soon enough, it would begin once more. With eight wins every time, you would need ten winters before you could see your heroes win eighty times.
Eighty wins? Some MLB side could get eighty wins in one summer (plus spring, plus September, etc.) while finishing below .500.
Pittsburgh just set the record for most consecutive such summers. They never hit eighty wins during this time, true, but if they did, it still wouldn’t be enough. Victory is microcosmic for this sport, with close to twice the opportunity for it next to hockey or hoops. But loss, too, is persistent. So we telescope our emotion.
Their pitcher’s behind in the count! Yes, but there’s nobody on.
But there’s nobody out! Yes, but we’re down by one.
But we just swept! But we’re ten out of first.
But…he just singled! There!
It shouldn’t work. But it does, when we lose ourselves in the competition–winning by losing.
I think it works.
I don’t root for Pittsburgh.
I don’t know.