Heading into the 2014 season, I knew the Dallas Cowboys would be bad. They had just fielded the worst defense in NFL history, and lost key players to either injury or the salary cap. I tweeted a few times that they had a realistic shot at getting the #1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. When we did the TSB’s Training Camp Previews, I said that they would go 7-9. Sure buddy. What a homer.
I guess being a Cowboys fan these days makes you conditioned to just expecting bad things to happen. But in this case, I was perfectly fine with those things happening. I understand that the only way to improve in professional sports is to bottom out, and then collect the highest draft picks possible.
Completely “OK”/convinced that the Cowboys would be awful, I let myself have literally zero expectations for the 2014 season. Any win by the Cowboys would be icing on the cake. After they got their doors blown off at home in week one by the San Francisco 49ers, I wasn’t mad. I expected it. There was no hesitation to just shrug it off and wait for them to lose the next week in Tennessee.
But they didn’t. And they didn’t lose in St. Louis, at home against Houston and New Orleans, at Seattle, or at home against the Giants. Who are these Dallas Cowboys and what have you done to the real ones? A 6-1 start? What the hell? Pretty soon I started to believe in this team and was re-tweeting this tweet on a weekly basis, just because I think he’s a gigantic douche bag.
Never, ever overreact to the NFL preseason. Having said that, the Cowboys are the worst team in the NFC.
— Adam Schein (@AdamSchein) August 8, 2014
I was getting excited about the Cowboys. All of a sudden expecting to win games wasn’t a crazy thought. And then Tony Romo took a knee to the back and suffered two transverse fractures.
I didn’t let myself fall into the trap the rest of the season. Expecting to get blown out at Philly, and then actually winning was very satisfying. A 4-0 December? Wow, that felt great. Even in the playoffs I wasn’t expecting to win. By not expecting to win only our second playoff game since 1996, I was ecstatic when we actually caught a break on the picked up pass interference flag. Hell, Tony Romo was clutch and lead a game winning drive!
Was I pissed when Dez Bryant’s catch was ruled incomplete? Hell yeah. But I also expected the defense to not get a stop, and the clock would run out on us. Which it did. But by expecting nothing, and then getting fifty times more than I could have imagined out of the season, it made this season so much more enjoyable.
While the Cowboys were getting off to this fantastic start, I let the New York Islanders into the land of “Expect Nothing, and Just Enjoy The Ride”. Another perennially awful team that I root for, the Islanders had a real solid young core that was missing four pieces heading into this season. An NHL caliber goalie, two top defenseman, and secondary scoring. Some how, GM Garth Snow responded to my tongue lashing at last season’s trade deadline, by acquiring all four of those. But I didn’t let those moves fool me. Someone was going to lose a leg in a gardening accident or even catch the Mumps. Wait, that actually happened? Yikes. Anyway, the Islanders now sit in first place in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division and have been battling for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Every game I watch, I expect some #IsLOLanders moment to happen, and they’re not. I’m actually watching a really darn good hockey team.
The real test is going to be in about three months when I try this with the New York Mets. I’m going to put it out there right now. I’m expecting another 76-79 win season. Something is going to happen within the season, whether it’s a catastrophic injury or just bad overall play. Many fans are expecting Matt Harvey to be Matt Harvey when he takes the mound for opening day, but I have my reservations. He’s going to be a big key to this team’s success, but as we have seen year after year, it takes 25 guys to win.
This mental state is not self-loathing. I am just not letting myself get disappointed when my teams lose and losing my sanity. My teams don’t make big impact free agent signings or trades anymore. I don’t expect them to happen. But, when Garth Snow trades draft picks and some OK prospects for two bonafide top pairing defensemen, it makes it even sweeter when it happens.
Sitting back and enjoying a game, not letting myself get angry and taking it out into the real world, has made my life as a sports fan much better over the past 6 months. Hopefully this experiment can last a long time.