Oh wait...get ready for long parenthetical aside:
(There was one guy that I loved to death. Dave, you remember, Tommy, who did that bird dance after he scored. I had a total man-crush on him. One time when we had a hot cocoa loco at our apartment, he came with Jeff, and he and I talked for an hour and had what I think is a common moment for guys in their mid-20s - you have a ton in common and under different circumstances you'd be great friends, but now you're old enough and far enough along in your college career that you already have your group of friends, and if you were both freshman or just back from your mission, it's still pretty easy to form guy-guy friendships, but after that there is no casual way to ask for another dude's phone number just to hang out without some other excuse and not feel totally weird about it. That was my Tommy moment. You had me at hot cocoa, Tommy, you had me at...)
Anyway, so in our first game together the captain of our team has us huddle up and gives this speech about how everyone is out to get us and how we need to come out and kick everyone's trash, and and...then we lost, handily, 5-2. We were never in that one. But the next one would be different because we really hate these...5-4. Well, this next week will be different because the other team is all former BYU guys too and they...9-3. But I'm sure that everyone we're playing against is writing down the brand of cleats and apparel that you're wearing, and looking at the sidelines at your girlfriends and wishing they were you. Right...
That's how I was feeling the whole season. I even opted out of the 9-3 game because I wanted to see how they'd fare without using me as excuse of why we're losing because I happen to be one of the three or so guys who didn't play BYU soccer. So what if I was secretly happy that they got creamed without me?
Then I came back from California and the next weekend we had a game. I was going to avoid playing, but said I would if we were short on players. We were, so I played. And then a funny thing happened. We won. Not only did we win, but Mike and I both scored some really awesome goals. All of a sudden EVERYTHING changed. Suddenly, these guys weren't total d-bags. And maybe I hadn't really given them a chance (well, except for that guy, I'm pretty sure he's always a jerk). In any case, we won and everything changed. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and soccer was fun again.
I think it's funny how much of a difference it makes, winning v. losing. When we went to the divisional playoff game against the Red Sox, I was glowing afterward. Couldn't have been happier that evening. It just made me laugh to think how different that night would have felt if the Angels had lost. And now with this soccer team, it's the exact same thing.
It used to be that when I would lose, or my team would lose, I would be really deeply affected. When my brother beat me in Streetfighter II, I threw the controller at our sliding glass door. When the Raiders lost the Super Bowl, I wanted to strangle these two obnoxious girls who were the only ones rooting for the Bucs because no one else was. It was easy for anyone else present to see how visibly upset I was. In some ways, I guess I still get pretty upset. When I play soccer at home at the church, I'll kick or throw the trash can or yell. I like to think that I don't get pissy with the people around me, but I don't know how they respond to my reaction. I used to swear out loud, but now that I'm a church-going boy, I just swear in my head, except for dammits and hells. Those still come out sometimes.
Anyway, this was a tough sports weekend. A friend of mine invited me to the BYU v. TCU game, but I was 90% sure they would get creamed, so I opted out of that one. After beating the Eagles last week, I thought the Raiders had a good shot against the Jets at home. I came home with eager anticipation after church to see the score was...38-0, bad guys. Ouch. No matter, my Angels would force a game 7, right? Right? No? Damn.
But I'm proud to say that no one who interacted with me this weekend had any idea that I was constantly aware of each frustrating score. If you were at ward prayer last night, you wouldn't have had any inkling that I realized the Angels had chipped away one run off their deficit against the best closer in baseball history to crawl back in the game, only to give back two more runs in the bottom half of the 8th to seal their fate.
Winning can make a weekend or night out great. Winning turns enemies into friends. The nice thing now is that losing just makes me change the channel, go to the church activity I probably shouldn't have been avoiding anyway, or just look forward to the start of the next sports season where my hopes and dreams have yet to be crushed and I can look forward to a season of promise.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, your 2009-2010 defending champions Los Angeles Lakers!
(Thank heavens for that championship. I can get by for at least another couple years on that one. More on the Angels later, Dave and Kent.)