Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: milwaukee brewers

My Uneducated, Ill-informed 2011 MLB Predictions

Retro hotdog/baseball advertBaseball’s Opening Day is tomorrow, and so I thought that I would publicly record my predictions for the season that lies ahead. Some of my comments have already appeared in the MLB Predictions post over at BaseballGB, where I’m entering my second year as an uneducated, ill-informed columnist. However, I thought I’d also throw up my full, unedited set of predictions and comments for posterity, if only to show in October how awful I am at predicting anything (as my bookmaker will attest). Feel free to pity/ignore as appropriate: Read the rest of this entry »

Rockies make play-offs, post-season takes shape

After Texas were eliminated from the play-off race this week, I feared that me choosing ‘surrogate’ teams for the post-season had produced some sort of unintentional curse. I’m happy to report that my jinxing skills have diminished, however, with the Colorado Rockies securing a spot in the play-offs last night.

I caught the game, and the Rockies looked very impressive casting aside the Milwaukee Brewers by 9-2. Aaron Cook pitched eight strong innings, in response to the Brewers starter Manny Parra, who had a tough day at the office, lasting only 2 2/3 innings (that seemed to go on forever and ever), giving up five runs.

The Rockies now face a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to finish off their (normal) season, and can potentially overtake them to win the National League West. This is some turnaround by the Rockies and manager Jim Tracy. The Rockies looked dead and buried in May when he took over, but have since won 73, and lost 40 – a real contrast to their pre-Tracy record of 18-28.

The Rockies have been building up momentum for some time now, and while outsiders for a berth in the World Series, it would be hard to discount them, if they can sustain this rich vein of form and keep injury-free.

With three days of the regular season left, the play-offs are starting to take shape. Even without my beloved Mets involved I’m getting pretty excited. Picking a ‘surrogate’ team probably doesn’t hurt, but even discounting that, we’re going to see some pretty special teams and players going at it this month.

Are you looking forward to the post-season? Any thoughts on what to look out for? Dare I say it, any predictions?

Why we watch sport (or Winning isn’t everything)

Last Sunday Larry at Wezen Ball posted a wonderful report on his last opportunity to watch the Milwaukee Brewers this season. He ended with this:

“There’s still nothing better than seeing Major League Baseball games in person – even if those games are of a sub-.500 team with failed postseason expectations. Baseball really is that good, and we’re lucky to have such a fun, talented and likable squad so close and so affordable. It’s worth remembering every now and then, and this weekend did a great job of reminding me of it.”

Unfortunately, living in England, I can’t actually get to see any Major League Baseball. And being a busy bee, I can’t get to as much live sport as I’d like, or have managed in the past.

Still, there is something very special about going to a game, in any sport, at any level. I enjoy a day out watching non-league football just as much as a day at Wembley, just for different reasons. I went to the cricket this summer for a County Championship game and had a wonderful time, and could probably find just as much to enjoy from a simple village green game as I would a Test Match.

So, sport is fun to watch, even if your team isn’t a massive success. Nobody wants to see their team lose, of course. Even so, the experience, and for some the ritual, of going to the game, is almost enough.

For most of us, the main emotion we experience as a follower of sport is disappointment. Our team can’t win every challenge, every tackle, every point, every game or every championship. But still we return, time and again, year on year.

We accept that we can’t win all the time. And there is a particular dignity in those fans that see less wins than most. It’s not that they don’t care about winning. Far, far from it. It’s just that their support is ultimately unconditional. No glory hunting here. They may scream for change (of tactics, playing staff, coaching staff, owners), but the team will always be their team. And hope springs eternal, just wait until next year…

There is more than the result to keep a supporter hooked. There’s the socialising, the community, the peripheral elements to the main event. I live near Charlton Athletic, and can see the supporters gathering in the cafés before the game, the pubs after. The sense of community, lost in so many other walks of life, is palpable.

Plenty of people seem to go to the cricket for a doze, a read of the paper and a chat. Good on them.

When I caught the baseball, on a trip to New York, the pretzels and beer (and unexpected high-fives from fans nearby) was as much fun as the game itself.

Even armchair supporters enjoy more than just the game itself. It might be that well-earned can of beer or slice of pizza accompanying it. Or the friend who pops round to watch too. The chance for some ‘time out’ from the real world. If the fan is really tech-savvy, they might enjoy the chance to connect with others via twitter, blogging or whatever else.

There’ll be times when they will swear and throw something at the television because the game isn’t going their way. But there will also be the times when they’ll catch a game, just because it’s on, and be more than happy.

While the recent sporting scandals in rugby union, Formula 1 and elsewhere suggest that sportsmen and women are increasingly looking to win at all costs, that isn’t the case for supporters. There is more to the enjoyment of sport than just the contest, or the result of that contest, itself. There’s meaning in sport beyond the score.

Maybe while those directly involved (the players, coaches, owners etc) see sport as a business first and foremost, it’s still a game for the fans.