Sympathy for the downtrodden (or, Game 147: Padres 4 Pirates 0)

In my life, I played on some awful baseball teams. When I was 13, my Junior League team (Hermitage Lodge 810) went 0-14. When I was a junior in high school, my Kennedy Catholic Golden Eagles bounced off of a 4-14 season with an 0-14 record, made even more impressive by the presence of a future major leaguer on our roster. I am familiar with bad baseball.

The reason I mention this is because unless you’ve played on a truly awful sports team, I think it’s hard to understand what it’s like. Unsurprisingly, both winless teams that I played for excelled at losing by the ten run rule. I still believe that our Kennedy team from my junior year holds an unofficial Mercer County Athletic Conference record for losing by the ten run rule that season.

The thing is, when you’re bad, you know you’re bad. There’s no hiding from that fact when you’ve lost six or seven in a row, you’re playing a team with a bad record, and the score just keeps piling up. I loved playing baseball every day that I played it (I didn’t know how much I missed it until I played intramural softball this spring), but on some of those hot summer afternoons when the score was 8-0 in the fourth or fifth inning, all I really wanted was for the other team to score two more runs and put us out of our misery.

Losing — real, endless, oppressive losing — really does suck the life force out of you and everyone around you. Neither team that I played on that went winless was a very good team, but neither team was bad enough to lose every game. That’s where this Pirate team is right now. Every day, they go to the ballpark and they dread what’s coming, because it’s the same thing that comes every day. They know even though it shouldn’t be that way, but they also feel a little powerless to make it stop. That’s how losing goes.

This losing doesn’t necessarily carry over. My senior year, we pulled ourselves together and somehow managed a playoff berth (despite a losing record, but still, quite an improvement over 0-14) with mostly the same group of guys and the same coaching staff, sans Reimold, but I think we would’ve lost 100 games in a row my junior year. And yeah, we were high school kids with other jobs and classes and high school drama to worry about and these guys are big leaguers and this is their job, and they’re paid very well for it. On some levels, though, I feel like losing affects everyone the same way, no matter where you are.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.