And in this relationship I’m the abused, not the abuser. I know that’s unusual but not unheard of, but in this case it’s true. I’m the whiny little bitch in this affair and I can’t break it off because I’m just too weak. That relationship is between me…and sports, and thanks to Vanessa for making me realize it (she was the one who pointed out it’s like domestic violence).
Let’s look at the patterns here. Early in my life I chose my sports spouses: the Chargers and the Angels. I picked them for different reasons – both because they were near to where I grew up, but the Angels because they were the media underdogs in LA (to the Dodgers, of course) and the Chargers because of Dan Fouts and their exciting offense. Well, Rod Carew had a bit to do with me being an Angels fan, and his number makes its way into my life in various ways, but it was more the underdog thing for the Angels. Once I chose those two teams I made a lifelong commitment to them which I still haven’t broken, although in the past I’ve flirted with the Padres, Expos, Dolphins, and 49ers, showing I have a propensity towards bonding with teams that suck. Yes, the Dolphins and 49ers have had some success – the 49ers a lot – but when I was flirting with them they were in the down cycle. I could see their past beauty but the future looked like it would put some hard miles on them; they were the woman at the bar who looks pretty cute but then you get close and see the pancaked makeup and hear the smoker’s hack. I was tempted but I stuck with my abusers.
In most abusive relationships there is something for the abused to point to for justification of the relationship, and I have my justification. For the Angels it was 2002, of course. That beautiful year when everything came together and they won the World Series. I cried. God, it was wonderful. After rooting for them since 1978 (doing the math, that was 24 years, not necessarily a long time in a sports-abusive relationship [ask a Cubs fan about that]) they finally delivered on their promise, and I was elated. It was exceptionally sweet after the horrible stench that was the 90s for Angels baseball. After 2002, they’ve occasionally come close to that plateau but never again reached it, giving me just enough hope so that I can justify the emotional beating they deliver every year (and this year’s beating looks to be particularly cruel). Like an abuse victim I keep coming back for more, and insist that those not having a similar relationship just don’t understand. They don’t.
As for my justification for rooting for the Chargers, there’s…well, hmm, let’s see…they’ve been to the playoffs a lot, and even went to the Super Bowl once but got humiliated by the 49ers (just imagine how sweet that would have been if I’d [sensibly] jumped over to the Good Ship San Francisco that year). There’s also, um…Craig Whelihan, Natron Means, and…not making much of a case here. Well, there WAS Dan Fouts, he was awesome.
Writing this, I see how little sense it makes to invest yourself in rooting for a sports team. You spend an assload of money to see them play, and buy the crap with the team logo stamped on it. You get a great high when they win and a terrible low when they lose. In that respect I’ve gotten much better: the losses still sting but now the sting fades quickly. I still love my teams – you just don’t understand them! – but years of getting punched in the face by them has taught me to take the blows and go about my day. That’s the only way you can survive these abusive relationships, to build a wall. Well, that or to get the hell out of them, but we all know I won’t do that.
Because…you just don’t understand the Angels and Chargers like I do. If only you could see how good they are to me when they’re not constantly letting me down! All you see is the bad stuff so how can you judge? Just leave me alone!
Somebody help me.