Fans & Expectations (Plus sleepless nights)

It has been a while since I’ve written anything about sports on this blog, as a matter of fact, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all on this blog, but that’s not really the point here. If you’ve followed this blog before you know it happens quite frequently where I go into long hiatuses followed by frequent, random bursts of words. Anyway, let’s get back to sports (those words may have told you to close the window if you couldn’t care less about sports – lol). Then again this post isn’t about any specific sport, or team, it’s just about being a fan. Being a fan is hard, or maybe stressful is a better word. When a new season begins, expectations are high. It’s tough to sleep when your team struggles early on. When the dust settles things. become clear as do your expectations for your team, and you might even be able to sleep a little better. But no matter how high or low these expectations are, letdown/stress/frustration is always right around the corner. That might sound like a pessimistic way to look at things, but think about it. Only one team finishes the season as the champion. Every other team “failed”. Even the champion didn’t just coast through the season not having caused any stress for their fans. There are ups and downs to every season for every team. That’s something all fans realize and deal with each year, but it’s the years where our teams try to convince us that our expectations should be higher than what they are. Prime example — the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals (yes, we all knew this was coming back to one of my favorite teams). They entered the season with questions all over the diamond, but they managed to hang around for half of the year. The second half came, and they slowly declined to a position where everyone thought they would be. Meanwhile, the fans (aka me) understood that this year wasn’t their year. I was okay with that since my expectations were not that great to begin with. The Cardinals had a lot of issues, and they were finally catching up to them. Fair enough; we all knew this was their fate, or so we thought. I’d go to bed quietly at night thinking about football and worrying more about my fantasy baseball team than the actual one I followed. The results of the games didn’t really matter to me anymore because the expectations were now nonexistent.

But wait a second…Atlanta collpased, and STL played out of their asses and snuck into the playoffs. We thought, “Wow, that was impressive.” What-if’s began to creep into our heads until we realized STL had to beat the Philadelphia Phillies (the best team in all of a baseball I might add) three games before they could do it to us. That wasn’t going to happen was the consensus. Once again, zero expectations. Anything that happens now is just icing on the cake was the mentality. Five games later, STL prevailed by somehow managing to take the series from the Phillies. Holy shit – maybe this really isn’t a fluke!! Now it is starting all over again, expectations are through the roof. The Cardinals didn’t make it this far by chance; they actually have a good baseball team. They can win now and could play in the World Series.

Shit! Now I’m back to sleepless night, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is exactly why we root for our teams in the first place.


Cross It Off

I think it is quite obvious I am a huge sports fan seeing as 95% of the posts on this blog focus on sports, but there are a number of things holding me back from taking that next step up the sports fan ladder. One thing that separates fans is how many sporting venues they have attended, but not only that, it’s how historic the venues really are (Wrigley, Madison Square Garden, Fenway, Lambeau, Augusta National, etc). Another important thing is thecaliber of events they’ve been to. The World Series, Super Bowl, Final Four, the PGA majors, the list goes on. Those are the events we always remember regardless of who played or what happened because it’s just special being there. It might truly be a once and a lifetime experience.

I have been to my fair share of sporting events, but when it really comes down to it, the big games and venues are what is missing from my list. So in the past six months I’ve made it a point to get to a couple of famous stadiums and events. I finally attended a baseball game at Wrigley field (and it was against the STL Cardinals – they won) and sat in the bleachers. it was incredible. There were about 15 of us wearing our Cardinal red and cheering loudly. I was also able to attend the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. I will say golf events are not one of my favorite sports to see live, but the course itself was truly amazing to see in person. And one more that I plan on crossing off this weekend is seeing my dreadful Dallas Cowboys play at Lambeau. It would probably be more exciting if the Cowboys weren’t 1-6 and underdogs by 9.5 points, but hell, the experience will be awesome and to boot, it is the Sunday night game on NBC. We plan on tailgating with the best of ’em and trying to stay warm.

I am going to put together a list of events/venues that I need to attend – sort of my sports fan bucket list if you will – and continue to make an effort to cross them off.

Go Cowboys!

Sports Everywhere

The Dallas bye week is behind us. The MLB playoffs are underway. It is a great time to be a sports fan right now. The Ryder Cup was as thrilling as I’ve ever seen, albeit I have not seen many Ryder Cup’s in my short existence here. Either way, seeing Hunter Mahan duff a chip when the cup was on the line makes me feel a little better about my golf game; I am not quite sure why, but it does. Then again I am not sure I’d my golf game a golf game after the way I played last weekend. I think I ended up losing more golf balls than the number of holes I played.

Speaking of the MLB playoffs, there have been a number of great performances already. Roy Halladay threw the second postseason no-hitter ever, and it was his first postseason start – can we say clutch? Tim Lincecum also dominated last night striking out a SF Giants’ playoff record 14 batters. The Minnesota Twins have also put on quite a display. They have continued their utter abysmal play against the Yankees. It really is impressive that the Twins have scored first in the last 9 games against them and lost every one. And apparently the fans knew what they were doing in Tampa by not going to the games seeing as the Rays have been outscored 11-1 in the first two games. Who would have thought the Rangers would be in the ALCS this year? It is impressive, and they have as good of a chance has anyone to beat the Yankees.

I am thrilled Dallas will be back on the field this Sunday, and I will have more to root for than my fantasy guys. I will be watching to see if Dallas can get their first W at home this season against the Titans. I would prefer the duo of Tony Romo and Miles Austin to dominate the game and box score. That way the ‘Boys as well as my two fantasy teams will all finish the week as winners.

Until next time, enjoy…

MLB Predictions Revisited

The MLB season is a little more than halfway through so I am going to revisit my preseason predictions to see where I stand.  Let’s take a look at the division leaders first.  My predictions will be in the standard font, and the actual leaders will be in bold in the parentheses.

NL Central – STL (STL)
NL West – Rockies (Padres)
NL East – Phillies (Braves)
NL Wildcard – Braves (Reds & Giants)

AL Central – Twins (White Sox)
AL West – Rangers (Rangers)
AL East – Yankees (Yankees)
AL Wildcard – Rays (Rays)

That isn’t too bad. I have 5/8 teams currently in the playoffs.

Now let’s take a look at the MVPs and Cy Young winners. Same format as above, obviously the ones in bold would be my MVPs/Cy Youngs at the moment.

NL MVP – Pujols (Howard or Pujols)
AL MVP – ARod (Miguel Cabrera)
NL Cy Young – Halladay (Wainwright)
AL Cy Young – Felix (Sabathia)

I didn’t quite do so well on the awards. I was way off on the Cy Young winners. Halladay hasn’t pitched very well since his perfect game, and the Phillies’ offense has been terrible. Felix has pitched well, but he plays for Seattle. Enough said. Pujols will still win the MVP. And ARod has a ton of RBIs but doesn’t stand a chance if Cabrera keeps this up. Josh Hamilton is on his heels if he stays healthy as well.

Cardinals Thru 7

5-2 through their first seven games isn’t too bad, but their record should be 7-0. The starting pitching has been there with the exception of Carpenter being a little shaky in his first two starts (5 HRs allowed already vs. 7 HRs all of last year). The offense has been scoring runs as well, but then again when Pujols has 5 HRs and is hitting over .400 he can single-handedly score enough runs to win.

The only real issue thus far is the same issue it was expected to be: the bullpen. They’ve gotten both loses in two walk-off homers in the bottom of the ninth inning. Motte still thinks he can throw it by everyone, and Franklin needs pin-point location to succeed as his stuff steadily declines.  The lefties have been solid as usual.  Boggs and Hawksworth have gotten the job done when called upon and surprisingly, McClellan has struggled mightily.  This will continue to be an issue throughout the season and will be the one thing that constantly holds the Cardinals back.

This week the Cardinals have the Astros and the Mets.  Let’s go, Cards!!

2010 MLB Predictions

Spring training is finally over, and fantasy baseball is underway.  As I watch the Soxx continue to play like tonight’s game is an exhibition contest I will put forth my predictions for the upcoming season.  They are as follows:

NL MVP – Albert Pujols
AL MVP – Alex Rodriguez

NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay
AL Cy Young – Felix Hernandez

NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West – Colorado Rockies
NL East – Philadelphia Phillies
NL Wildcard – Atlanta Braves

AL Central – Minnesota Twins
AL West – Texas Rangers
AL East – New York Yankees
AL Wildcard – Tampa Bay Rays

World Series – Cardinals over Yankees (I am a huge Cardinals fan)