We signed up for this. As sports fans, we know our passion is a losing proposition, that our beloved will betray us, that caring deeply about things beyond any measure of control will inevitably lead to feelings of profound disappointment and impotence. We know this and still we care, we continue to lie to ourselves, rationalizing away this loss and justifying this win. Fans are, if nothing else, quixotic.
And when the season ends in inevitable disappointment, the smelling salts hit us almost immediately. Our delicate towers of bullshit are torn down like statues of Saddam and we begin speaking in relative terms. "That was a pretty good year," we say. "Not too bad, all things considered," or "At least we're not the Raiders." We might be bummed out for a little while, but for the most part, we just shake our heads, shrug our shoulders and transfer the self-delusion back onto other facets of our lives.
Yet even under the accepted rules of engagement, this has been a brutal week for Colorado sports. For those of you unencumbered by the burden of fandom, here’s a quick recap of the miserable week you were completely oblivious to:
The Lakers swept the Nuggets from the first round of the playoffs, marking 2008 the fifth straight year they have failed to advance in the post-season. Although the result of the series was not a surprise, the team's half-hearted effort and comments by Carmelo Anthony – whose subpar playoff performances are starting to look like a disturbing trend – indicating the team "quit" during the pivotal game three portends trouble heading into next season. Oft-criticized head coach George Karl has the trust of upper management and will return to the bench next year, despite concerns over his ability to motivate All-Stars Anthony and Allen Iverson. Worst of all, Kobe Bryant – arguably Colorado's most hated sports figure not named Al Davis - had his way with us, looking every bit the league's Most Valuable Player, an award he's expected to win this week.
After a triumphant first-round upset of the Minnesota Wild that reinvigorated Denver's nascent hockey base, the Avalanche were swept from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by…shudder…The Detroit Red Wings. Two of these losses were utter debacles, including game four, when the score read 7-1 Wings ... at the end of the second period. While much of the disaster can be mitigated by an almost unbelievable number of injuries to key players, next season is shaping up to be a sacrificial rebuilding year. With franchise staple Joe Sakic facing possible retirement and fan favorite Peter Forsberg likely gone, the 08-09 squad may look dramatically different than this year's incarnation.
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Our defending National League Champion Colorado Rockies had the worst record in baseball heading into Sunday's win. We've dropped 11 of our past 14 games, our pitching has been shaky, our hitting inconsistent and our most promising young player, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, is likely out until the All-Star break in July with a torn quadriceps muscle. Although it's still early and the baseball season drags on longer than the Democratic primaries, it's still disheartening to see the haters that declared the Rockies World Series run a fluke (and there were many) smugly lick their chops from the sideline.
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Thankfully, the Broncos don’t play games for another three months, so nothing bad could happen with them, unless, say, their young franchise quarterback is diagnosed with Type I diabetes, or some ridiculous shit like that. Wait, what’s that? Their young franchise quarterback was just diagnosed with Type I diabetes? Perfect.
Although this development is actually positive – Cutler dropped over 30 pounds during the course of last season and with his mystery ailment now diagnosed, his health will improve and his play shouldn’t be adversely affected by the disease – it was yet another blow to the frayed nerves of fans already on edge.
The cumulative effect of such losery has created a feeling amongst fans that, to put it subtly, the sky is falling and we're all going to die miserable deaths. There's usually at least one team that looks good behind the tint of rose colored glasses. Not right now. At this point, all we have to cling to is uncertainty, that filthy old blanket we refuse to wash despite its rank odor and unflattering design. At least it's something.
So for those of you who don't give a good god damn about sports, right on. Care about the economy, the spreading food crisis, the winner of American Idol, something, anything other than names and numbers on jerseys. I wish I could join you. But I've got some laundry to do. - Mark Schiff