in which we complain about how miserable life is, mainly through sports

so… today has not really been a great day, what with some not-exactly-voluntary overtime and some ADDITIONAL overtime to resolve a baggage issue during that first overtime and an apparently fractured windshield on the Civic and a speeding ticket after four years of no speeding tickets. but this is all some minor and personal complaining that, you know, is hard for everyone relate to on the internet. what’s really necessary are larger, more universal concepts by which we can define our suffering… and this is where we bring in sports. it has not been a good year!

football
my allegiance: the Oakland Raiders
first off, let’s be clear that we’re talking about the American form of football popularized by the NFL, not some weirdo European version of the sport (RIP, Scottish Claymores!) or some world-wide phenomenon better known as “soccer” or “that game that was invented by European ladies to keep them busy while their husbands did the cooking.” bucking the long established trends of Redskins and, to a lesser extent, Colts and Ravens fandom in this area, i have hitched my wagon long ago to the star of the Raiders. generally speaking, this has been enjoyable, as we were once the winningest franchise in professional sports, but ever since the day William Callahan ruined my team after that Super Bowl loss, it’s been a depressing downward slide. i mean, last year we went 2-14, and we didn’t even have Ryan Leaf to blame it on. and in addition to this, there’s the added work entailed by the vengeance i have sworn to inflict on Callahan.

basketball
my allegiance: the Philadelphia 76ers
following on the heels of this 2-14 mess, we generally try to taste some success through professional basketball, where it is now apparently of serious importance what players wear when they are NOT playing the game. the problem here mainly lies in my poorly-planned decision to become, in my youth, a fan of the Sixers, for which i blame Charles Barkley’s hilarious excellence. having lured me in, he then fled town and left me rooting for a generally throughly mediocre team. the bright spot, of course, was the addition of the greatest basketball player ever, Allen Iverson, an excellent player who is great fun to watch even on a mediocre team losing a game and who expressed his desire to retire as a Sixer. so, of course, he was traded away during this excellent year in sports to the Denver Nuggets, leaving me with a legitimately BAD Sixers team to root for, though i must give them credit for trying to win games with Baby A.I. and, uh, no one else and not tank (and i am really not being sarcastic here). but wait, fuck this, i had vowed to root for whatever team Iverson was traded to IF King was stupid enough to trade him until such time as A.I. retires.

my NEW allegiance: the Denver Nuggets
Iverson AND Carmelo, two of the top scorers in the league, together? awesome! oh, no, wait, Iverson is hurt now and Carmelo is suspended now and we lost in the playoffs. well, maybe next year. time for baseball!

baseball
my allegiance: the Pittsburgh Pirates
when i was young, i enjoyed playing baseball and rooting for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their stars like Barry Bonds, until i had the great pleasure of playing on one of those youth league teams where winning games is SO important that you can’t risk playing any kids who aren’t totally awesome. also, for no related reason, now i totally fucking hate youth baseball and if my children ask to play it, i will beat them until they play football or something else instead, or at least until they get awesome at baseball and can force me to shut the hell up about my sad, sad youth. but ANYWAY, it’s around that time that Bonds ran out to San Francisco to take one ton of steroids and increase his hat size and the Pirates stopped winning. hahahaha… no, seriously, we haven’t seen a winning season since 1992. i mean, i will always root for these assholes, but i will certainly NOT enjoy it.

hockey
my allegiance: the Philadelphia Flyers
while i admit that hockey season starts before baseball season, i place hockey here not to take a shot at its permanent fourth-place, red-headed stepchild, not-quite-a-major-sport among the major sports status, but to reflect the fact that the Flyers, by ALWAYS fielding a quality team, are essentially my sports safety net. sure, they may bring me sadness by failing yet again when the playoffs come around, but there’s always some goodness (and maybe greatness) to watch there. except, you know, THIS year, when the Flyers suffered literally the worst season in franchise history. IN FRANCHISE HISTORY. in the future, i shall be rooting for teams that i hate so as to bring them down. uh, yeah, go New York Rangers! and also the Denver Broncos!

and these are just the major sports. i root for a college football team that can’t compete with real colleges with real sports programs (Navy) because my alma mater (UMBC) doesn’t have a football team, though it DOES have an awesome chess team that was shamed this year (fucking UMBC). i root for boxers that no one has ever heard of (Joe Calzaghe) because they’re super middleweights from Wales and who keep breaking bones in their hands, indicating that when they finally get some major competition (Kessler), they will break their hands and lose and i will cry bitter, bitter tears.

oh well, maybe next year will be better! JaMarcus Russell and Denver Iverson and Jason Bay and, uh, Martin Biron are all the waves of the excellent, successful future of sporting events that will finally make me happy! i’m depressed already. but on the plus side, you can now share our common bond of sports-related pain, unless you’re a Broncos fan, in which case, i don’t feel bad for your cheating team and you should probably get the hell out of my house.

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