I hate the term “lovable loser.” There’s no such thing nowadays. As ticket prices go up, players garner larger salaries, and championship droughts extend even further, fans have less and less patience with basement dwelling teams.
See that guy? That’s Matt Millen, former GM of the Detroit Lions. No one loves him. Not even his family. He is the ultimate type of unloved: hated in his own city and irrelevant everywhere else. His buffoonery over the years (horrendous drafting, questionable contracts, upsetting mustache) has not caused Detroit diehards to suddenly starting hating the team, since that’s not how fandom works. But he caused them to hate him specifically. The team itself (that is, the collection of laundry that people root for), never gets the hatred. It’d be like hating a building for the people inside of it. When times get tough, fans target a single loser or a group of losers, and start hating on them in force. “Fire Such-And-Such” Websites pop up, message board posters fire off tirades about lazy players and season ticket holders show up to the stadiums with bags on their heads. And that’s what I find so interesting about fans of a consistently terrible team; they could hate every single player, coach and owner, but they’ll never hate the team.
I suppose, in that regard, the uniforms themselves are the lovable losers. The people wearing them aren’t. The owners that put them on the players aren’t. But the poor numbered shirt, forced to clothe the inept and poorly managed, are the things that fans have sympathy for. I don’t feel bad for 0-for-the-century Kosuke Fukodome, but I do take pity on his uniform. It’s so reviled it’s even a curse word in some places.
I find myself wondering what it would be like to be able to say “Aww, it’s alright. Those lovable scamps will get them next game.” That question comes from the same part of my mind that wonders what it would be like to shop at a general store or receive an ice delivery from a refridgerated truck. I kind of like being so passionate about something that I can hate someone that tries to harm it. I hate Hank Steinbrenner, for instance, and that makes me stronger. Before their Super Bowl win, I hated Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, the ghost of Tiki Barber and most of the offensive line, but it somehow made my love of the Giants more intense. I think the sports culture of our finest sports cities would be lessened if the tradition of the “there’s always next time” mentality came back. Hating on things is almost as fun as loving them.