Thursday, June 14, 2007

Heartbreak and other Emotions

I watched the game today with a certain amount of amusement...there is not a sports team on the planet that has the "right" to out-complain Cubs fans, so when the Cubs' non-inhaling version of Jeff Weaver (Jason Marquis) fell apart in a weird sixth inning (hit the pitcher, bad error by Mark DeRosa at third, and then a bases-clearing double to the ivy by Rauuuuuul) that even saw the home plate umpire lecture Jose Guillen for several minutes because...well, because the ump was in the way--when that happened, it was karma that the Cubs had to come back in unexpected fashion. When even Jeff Weaver scattered TEN (ten, 10, or, if you like X) hits over his six-inning "quality start," you knew something had to go wrong.

And the heartbreak of Brandon Morrow being unable to hit the corners in the eighth (it happens, he was really close on every pitch, but they WERE all balls, alas) and subsequently coughing up a won game couldn't really compare to anything in Wrigley Field, so we don't really get to complain or feel sorry for ourselves.

Two things strike me here. First, I currently lack the doom-and-gloom certainty that this is the beginning of a downward spiral, or the beginning of the end. That's pretty refreshing as an emotion connected to the M's, and it sure surprised me to feel that way when I flipped the TV off after Howry nailed down the final out.

Secondly, though, this whole story points up something interesting about emotions, character, grit (we had both Outquist and Burke in the lineup today...isn't that enough grit to win?), or what have you. There's a reason that sample sizes, rationality, science, and math explain so much about winning or losing major league baseball teams. Sure, we all want to read the schlock that lazy sportswriters dish out about the great chemistry of winning ballclubs (Jeff at Lookout Landing has a fantastic rant on that very point today)--we must, 'cause they keep publishing that dreck--but in truth, a six-month season CAN'T be driven wholly by emotion or character or chemistry. And if it were, we'd have found a way to measure it by now.

So I'll keep rooting, but I'm rooting for runs scored and (for the love of God) better pitching performances, rather than pie-in-the-face team chemistry.


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