REMEMBER BEING UNDERDOGS? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Underdog

It seems so long ago … but it’s just 15-years.

For some of you kids — Note: If you are under 40, you’re a kid — that’s a long time. For us older fans, it was just the other day. After 86 years of being the downtrodden underdogs of baseball, the Red Sox rose from their ashes and won a world series. They won another one in 2007 and 2013 — and nailed it again last year.

So I guess we aren’t underdogs anymore. But we still think like underdogs. We are always surprised when we win, amazed when we recover from losing to winning.

Then there are the Patriots. I remember when they never won anything. Then, one day, there was Tom Brady … and since then, we’ve been winning a lot. Not every year, but often enough that it feels like every year.

A lot of younger sports fans can’t imagine a year when the Patriots aren’t in the playoffs at least and usually in the Super Bowl. They aren’t old enough to remember. But Brady is 41 and no matter how hard he plays, he’s going to give it up sooner rather than later. Then, it will be time to rebuild and everyone will be very grumpy.

It’s gone the other way for the Celtics. I remember when it either LA or Boston winning every year. Year after year. And then they got old and the team had to rebuild. They did it, came back … but now they are rebuilding. Again.

That’s the way it is in sports. Players are great, they get old, they retire and they start over. Maybe that’s how we should do our government. When they all get old, time to sweep them away and rebuild.

I know in this age of hanging on the edge of constant crisis all-the-time, many people think sports are trivial. Personally, I think it’s the government that’s trivial. At least players on the field have actual skills. They can hit the ball, throw a pass, take a jump shot.

What can politicians do except argue and never get anything done?

Really, sports is something in which you can be involved that is not political. You can root, rage, and rant. Regardless, you know that win, lose or draw, the world won’t end. You can love your team, but if they lose, there’s always next year and no one will die because the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, or Celtics didn’t go all the way.

Fenway Park, Boston – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Politically, we may indeed be heading for the end of the world, but at least we understand sports begin and end in a stadium or arena. If they lose, there’s always next year. And the year after — assuming the rest of the world doesn’t end before we get there.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

13 thoughts on “REMEMBER BEING UNDERDOGS? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Sports – especially – most especially – Baseball – has been my escape and r/x from reality through 7 plus decades.
    I’ve rooted for the underdogs — the Brooklyn Dodgers, Casey’s “Amazin’ Mets, and the old and new Red Sox. When I was very young (6 or 7 yrs old), I started listening to the Brooklyn Dodgers on the radio and a life long love affair was born. I began collecting baseball cards, Baseball mags and, soon, the APBA “dice” baseball game which allowed me to play baseball 24/7 all year. I absorbed baseball trivia. At one point, pre-exansion, I memorized the starting batting orders of all 16 teams
    which then comprised major league baseball.
    I listened to the Dodgers night games – radio tucked next to my pillow. A young Vin Scully made his calls poetry.
    I was distracted by everything in the real world while dreaming of replacing my hero, Duke Snider, as the Brooklyn centerfielder.
    Those days of innocence carried me through life into retirement. Today, more than ever, Baseball is a salve against the prickly wounds of our national politics.
    We’re just about 5 weeks away from the beginning of Spring Training and another year of life in the alternate universe of baseball. I’m ready.

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  2. I’m not ‘into’ sports, and so what you’ve presented here is interesting. The only quibble I have with sports ‘stars’ is how much they are paid. While teachers, nurses (to a lesser degree) and other more important professionals are paid very little usually. But. Nobody said life was fair, did they? Just another symptom, IMHO, of how it might really be true that the end of times is on the way.

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    1. If you want to base pay on how many people can do the job, then sports figures win by a landslide. Many people can teach — and do, including me, though I didn’t enjoy teaching much. But not many people can throw a baseball at 100 MPH. It’s simply how many people can do it and how much other people are willing to pay to see it done. Fair? Maybe not, but the rarity of the ability strongly affects how much pay it gets AND whether or not someone will pay to see it.

      Guys who collect garbage don’t get paid very well and we certainly owe them a lot for cleaning up our trash, but no one is going to pay much to watch them do it … and basically, anyone can do it. So, they don’t get paid well and probably never will. And that’s the way the entire world works, not just America.

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    1. It has been weird living here with the chronically losing Red Sox and Patriots, then watching them turn into super teams. When they finally won the World Series in 2004, it has been 86 years since the last time Sox did it. Our government should be run HALF as well as any of the major sports franchises. No one would put up with their crap. When they pay you the big bucks, they expect you to produce. If you don’t, they kick you out. It’s a thought to ponder!

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  3. I remember when Larry Bird was the rebirth of the Celts; I was at his first game! And those were the years when the Celts were the ONLY Boston team that won! Oh, all the years of “Wait Till Next Year” at Fenway. Love your idea of getting rid of the government when they get old. Maybe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can be America’s Larry Bird!

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    1. I remember Larry and how finally, they let them play in the Olympics and THEN they all retired, had major spine surgery, knee surgery, shoulder surgery. They were total wrecks by then, but man they were SO good. And for years, they were THE team who won and they saved us from being a total washout.

      At some point, great athletes give in and retire. Sports don’t LET you play forever — but politics will. Some pols get better with the years, but many just get old and grumpy. That includes guys I loved as well as the ones I’ve hated. I think the few old ones who still have their wits about them hang on in there now because they are waiting for the next gen to come up and take over. That, at least, I think we’ll live to see. Most of the great ones Garry worked with are dead now. We need the young ones to grab hold, take the tiller and steer the ship. Then all the 75-year-olds can stop thinking about running for president and start thinking about what they’d like to do with their post-electoral lives. Write books. Do good in a world gone bad.

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