It would seem that no matter what I do, I am always deeply attracted to the underdog. Whether it be the last team in the league, or someone that people have apparently given up on, someone or something no one believes in anymore – I’m there. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. Deep inside, most of us have this longing to see the statistically improbable occur, simply for the sake of the excitement of beating the long odds. I can’t tell you how many times I have longed to see the most improbable things happen simply to feel that my faith in seemingly the most awkward things has been rewarded.
Throughout my life, I have met many individuals who were born into rather awkward and unfortunate circumstances. I won’t go into individual sob stories, as I have plenty of them that I certainly could tell. For purposes of keeping this examination relatively brief, I’ll say that a very high percentage of those that I went to high school with fit the category of “underdog.” Yes, most of them will never see their lives really amount to much, and this is incredibly saddening to me. We are each and every one of us born into this world with potential; so often, there are many mitigating factors that consistently deprive many human beings from being able to realize that potential. Without going too deeply into those particular factors, I want to tie this together quickly and concisely: baseball, for the most part, gives every team a chance to succeed, in a way that real life often doesn’t.
Baseball is often referred to as a metaphor for life; without sounding cliché, it’s true that baseball’s often deliberate pace mirrors often how our lives unfold. We all start in the minor leagues, and many of us will never reach the top. But, is that anything to be ashamed of, especially if you made the best of your chance? These journeys through the minor leagues often build character and teach life lessons then correlating into real life successes outside of the sport. One of these is knowing, if you don’t win now, you can look forward to next season.
In sport, there is always hope, obvious in ways that in our own lives are often invisible. Sometimes it simply takes one star to emerge and carry his or her peers to the most improbable victories. This is a major reason why I’ve long been fascinated by “rebuilding” Major League Baseball teams. Through a long season, the cream naturally rises to the top, which is the point of these marathons that are often painful to watch, but sometimes necessary for a sports franchise to weather in order to again find its footing.
In any case, there is one thing about these teams to remember: they may not be the greatest players in the world, but they are still Major League ball-players. That reality you can’t take away from them as long as they wear those uniforms. Simply seeing players that would never get a chance from most other major league ball clubs is quite a thing in itself. I’ve seen players rise to the occasion more than a few times. Yes, those who rise to fifteen minutes of baseball fame happen almost every year, and that fame often quickly fades. But, it’s fun while it lasts. No matter how many games these rebuilding teams may lose in a year, it makes every win that much more special.
Human beings often rely too much on expectations. We all want to have some certainly that we are correct in our assessment of various teams as they are constructed. Not only that, human beings just want to believe they are right about something. Too many sports fans forget it’s not always about winning. Sometimes it’s just about the game. So many of us focus on the value of a win these days. Besides, who wants to lose? But, you know why people root for an underdog? Often times, no one else has expectations for these players outside of their own organization and their families. So, what’s there to lose?
I’ve always rooted for the underdogs because, frankly, it’s fun. Winning all the time, let’s face it, does leave you rather complacent when it suddenly disappears. When you’re not expected to win, and then you do, it’s that much more special. You got to love the underdogs, because in the end, it’s my passion to follow those individuals and teams with no expectations. It makes for a much more entertaining ride, bumpy as it may be, because the unexpected can, and often will, happen.