Bulls 104, Grizzlies 64: Pseudo-Philosophical Musings on a Loss

So I didn't watch the game last night because I had to catch a coach early this morning. However, before I left, I snuck a peek at the game thread and was surprised to see a 40-point loss. Normally, I'd just skip the game in this situation, but I was going to write a recap so I kind of figured that I had to. At first I spent the long drive home dreading spending two-and-a-half hours watching a humiliating defeat, but after awhile I started thinking about my relationship with losing in sports.

Oddly enough, the teams that I gravitate towards are really bad, often historically bad. Weird as it sounds, I like losing! I enjoy rebuilding! It's fun for me. Take the Cubs as an example. They're a team with a long and impressive history of failure. In 2008 they were one of the best teams in baseball during the regular season and looked like sure-fire contenders. Yet, once they reached the postseason, things fell apart. In Game 1 of the NLDS, the Cubs gave up a Grand Slam. Game 2, was somehow worse. The Cubs lost 10-3. Moreover, every infielder committed an error, the first time that feat had been matched since 1927. This wasn't a simple loss; it was failure on a grand scale.

I can't explain exactly I'm so fascinated by losing. Maybe it's because I studied English as an undergrad, and most literature is inherently depressing. Regardless, I believe there's a certain aesthetic beauty in failure. After all, can't there be such thing as a beautiful loss, and if so, does it have to follow the cliched Hollywood formula of a plucky underdog unexpectedly pushing a champion to the limit ala Rocky? Isn't the Nets' near historic failure in 2009-2010 compelling?

I don't mean to sound like a dick to fans of downtrodden franchises, but, more often not, your team is at its best when it's at its worst. The moment a team like the Hawks or the Mets go from being terrible to being mediocre is the moment when I lose interest and immediately abandon ship.

Unfortunately, it's different with the Grizzlies. I can sit in my tower and admire the Timberwolves and Oakland Raiders of the world from afar, but it's not so simple with Memphis. I didn't starting following them because they were bad--in fact, they were a playoff team when I started watching them in 2003-2004--rather, they were geographically close and I liked their players. So I have a vested interest in the Grizzlies, whereas my only interest in the Cavaliers is when they're losing. This is why a 40-point drubbing that would be fun for me were it any other team isn't. After the Indians' multiple near-misses at a championship in the 90's, my dad, who grew up near Cleveland and even saw Bob Feller pitch, quit because it was too much heartbreak even for an Indians' fan. I'm nowhere close to that point yet, but God, it's depressing when you have to deal with one of these games.

The Grizzlies were terrible last night, and now having watched the game, there is nothing positive I can say about our performance other than that it looks like Zach Randolph's injury appears to be not as bad as we feared. I wouldn't listen to the shrieking heads over at ESPN and count us out yet, but we're not exactly made of adamantium either. I believe this team can still make a deep playoff run, but they need to get their shit sorted out quickly. If that requires a trade, so be it. Regardless, Memphis needs to regain the urgency that they played with last season. Cliche as it may sound, the reason why the Thunder and the Bulls are so good is because they play every game like it's their last. I'll be interested to see how respond to this failure the next time out.

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