As I watched Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees @ Tigers the other day, a thought began to pour over me. It reached its peak at the conclusion of the 5th inning.
Superman was beating the tar out of Doomsday. One of the few adversaries with a good chance to fight back, and it was fast becoming a good old fashioned ass kicking. Blow after blow planted squarely and fiercely in the vulnerable midsection; too fast, too powerful, too perfect for even the faintest glimmer of hope to fight back. In just ten punches, the Man of Steel had defeated evil with grace, style, perfect technique and raw power seen only beneath blue moons and in the wildest of dreams. The MVP was king of the mound, high protector of Detroit and all that is good and right in the world. A man of inhuman power and ability. A banner for truth, justice and Victory. I swear that I saw his cape fluttering in the breeze as the crowd stood together to cheer their savior, dumbstruck but to awe his power. The only question was would Doomsday even bother to pick himself up and take the rest of the beating he so rightfully had coming to him?
Welcome, sports fan, to the rationality juncture. The rationality juncture permeates our lives nearly completely. Anywhere a conflict, struggle or challenge exists that we are party to, we often end up standing before the rationality juncture, forced to pick a route. You and I both know, rationally, that the big gainer stock won’t rise forever. Conversely, rationally, we know that the economy will not perpetually tank. We know if we keep driving too fast through the hairpins, we will skid out. We know if we stick to our diet and exercise, the pounds will start to come off. We knew, rationally, that Verlander was not going to strike out 12 more batters and that things would get tight in the game. We knew that Doomsday could punch back.
That night we stood at the rationality juncture with a decision to make. Do we turn down the rational path, applaud lightly, but expect change and thereby minimize disappointment? Or do we walk straight ahead, sucking great lung-fuls of air to scream out our hero’s name? Do we expect a fight back, or do we ready our cameras for the next superhuman volley? Do we accept the chance of failure or cheer the certainty of success?
Sports fans in Michigan have spent a lot of time becoming exceedingly familiar with the rationality juncture as of late. Its twists and bends, various and diverse ways it presents itself, and its ability to inflict massive pain or incredible pleasure, or both have become common to us. It can be lightning quick (Did that play just destroy all hope?) or season long (Will the Lions go undefeated to the Superbowl?). Should we be rational and accept that it was just one play, or should we start the pity party now? Do we want to remember that the Lions are still young and will lose, or do we want to ready our Superbowl party guest list?
U of M fans stand at a unique and far reaching juncture. We’ve been to this party before. And undefeated start against overmatched opponents with a bit of luck and a lot of Denard magic. The rationality juncture stands screaming before us.
“Don’t take that road! It leads to self-delusion and eventual heartache!”
Buckeye fans now understand. They stayed straight where the rationality juncture turned, and now they’re looking for someone (Jim Bollman?) to throw their disillusionment at every time Joe Bauserman throws a pass at air. It would have been much easier to begin with tempered expectations.
Our QB is magic. Our coordinators are the best money can buy. Our coach excretes precious metals.
Our QB is magic. Our coach is a true innovator. Our team is so fast and perfectly built for our offense.
Do you not see the rationality juncture crying out, “Stop This Insanity”?
I saw Verlander’s flowing red cape. I also saw 2 runs in the first and a murderous lineup. I saw what was rational. I still believed in the cape. For all the reasons, right and wrong, sensible and ridiculous, I believed in a superhero.
The contributors of this blog will give you the numbers. They are an interesting and fascinating way to get a handle on a game or a season. They, quite effectively, tell us why something happened. They’re getting better at projecting what will happen. They are giant road signs pointing down the turn-off at the rationality juncture. But they are not why we are sports fans.
We are fans because we believed that a five foot ninja could stop North Dakota. We are fans because we believed Darius Morris would shoot successfully. We are fans because we believed in 30 seconds.
Some of these beliefs left us overjoyed. Some left us heartbroken. The rationality juncture pointed us away from all of them. And nothing could be sadder than believing that D-Mo would find iron or the clock would run out.
The team is 5-0, again. The rationality juncture beckons you to turn. Go Straight.
Believe in Superheroes.