I don’t like cheering for underdogs. Quite simply, I don’t like improbable stories, million to one odds, or lovable losers. So of course that makes this a poor time to be a sports fan. The favorite fails so often now that they are essentially the underdog. Last week’s Ohio State / Florida matchup again proved this. When members of the media were assuming an Ohio State victory, often by a large margin, it became apparent that Florida would win.
My anti-underdog leanings almost certainly stem from my passion for the Yankees. I was forcefed Red Sox “underdog” stories for years. Somehow the team with the second largest payroll, playing in the largest market with only one team, was treated like they were the team from “Major League.” The Yankees were (and are) the Evil Empire, who goes out and lures other teams best players with offers of immense wealth. They lack homegrown talent. Like Pedro, Manny, Ortiz, and Keith Foulke. But I digress.
At the Masters I found myself cheering against Phil Mickelson. And let’s get one thing straight, I have absolutely NO interest in golf. NONE. But I didn’t want the floodgates to open up for those who “never won the big won.” And what happened? The Red Sox, Roy Williams, the White Sox…
And now it’s evolved into just the underdog in general. Last year Texas over USC. The Steelers winning the super bowl as a 6th seed. Then in baseball the ultimate underdog World Series. During the second half of the season, the two WORST teams in MLB? The Tigers and the Cardinals. Both teams almost had collapses of epic proportion. So naturally they wound up playing each other in the World Series. And of course, the Cardinals won, the team that was the unanimously agreed upon as the worst team in the playoffs. In the American League, the Cardinals don’t make the playoffs. They don’t finish ahead of the Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays, and probably the Indians as well. The American League is superior to the National League and this fact is provable through every conceivable statistic. Except of course the World Series champion. Which in theory should be the most important stat.
So what am I getting at? No one (outside St. Louis) thinks the Cardinals were the best team last year. Even AFTER they won the World Series. Doesn’t that make the whole thing seem kind of fruitless and cheap? After you win your sport’s championship, you should be considered the best. If not, then what is the point of the playoffs? Does this devalue past and future champions? We spend time analyzing these games and predicting things when it seems that its all random anyways. And I guess that’s really the problem. The feeling that in the playoffs (especially in baseball) you just have to get lucky. Which completely devalues everything about being an avid fan.