29.May.2011 Reflection on the Baseball Season
Today capped off one of the biggest collapses in Oregon State history.
And it caused me to wonder: is this really a bad thing?
Some will be offended I even ask the question. "You are not a true Beaver!" they will blindly balk. I suggest these people just stop reading the site, because I'm not going to waste time defending myself anymore.
So, back to the question. Is this a bad thing?
Well, on the surface, yes. It's terrible. The Beavs choked away the Pac-10 title. Think about it some more, though. What is the biggest underlying problem at Oregon State? In my opinion, it's that everyone, from the athletic department to the fans, hopes programs do well instead of expecting it. I don't think it can be expressed more succinctly than that. Think about that for a moment before you continue reading.
Okay, now I ask you: what do Beaver fans consider a successful season? This is more tricky. But, I read a lot of websites, forums, newspapers, blogs, etc with diverse opinions from all age groups, and it seems to me the only thing these people can agree upon is that beating the Ducks makes everything else okay. The football team could go 1-10, but if the victory is against the Ducks…hip hip hooray!
In other words, Beaver fans care more about the Ducks failures than their own team's success.
So, when fans sit back and say, "Bob DeCarolis is the problem" or "Mike Riley should be fired!" they aren't completely wrong, but the problem doesn't start with those guys. People at the top rarely lead; they cater to opinion and expectations at the bottom (follow politics cursorily, and you'll accept this as a truth). Therefore, the problem is the fan. That's right. The fan is the problem. You'll see me lash out at the old, dying guard often because they harp about "28 years of losing", and frankly it holds us back. Well, now I am dedicating an entire post to this topic because it really needs to be drilled home and engrained in your mind. The problem is not an individual at the top. The problem is a group of individuals at the bottom and it begins with you and people you know. By purchasing a ticket, Beaver gear, or a hot dog at the ballpark, you are saying, "I support this product." The dollar is your voting card, your chance to veto the current path, and to force change.
So, why is the collapse a good thing? I think it drills home the two points above:
1. The hope vs expectation paradigm.
2. (Jealous) obsession regarding the Ducks rather than self-improvement.
Until these things change, it will be the same ol'.
Players need to come into our programs knowing fans expect them to win. Right now, players come to Oregon State knowing it'll be nice to win, but since the fans are so agreeable and supportive, it's not a big deal if they lose. What needs to change is the culture. There needs to be a winning culture. When your school isn't naturally blessed with this, losing (especially to a rival), ironically, is what angers people enough to act and start down that path. The past decade has proved mediocrity or moderate success doesn't move the fan base. Even after two National Titles, our baseball team only hopes to win. That is flat out sad.
I think this latest (see gymnastics team) Beavers collapse at the hands of the Ducks will enrage fans. Someone in the comment area already mentioned he's handing in his season tickets and calling it a day. He is an empowered fan. People sometimes ask why I've only gone to two Beaver games ever. The answer is simple: the product isn't up to my standards so I don't support it. I don't want to hear excuses or strawmen or misplaced blame. Today's result is as much on the fan as it is on any administrator, coach, player, etc. Never again write, "I hope we win" or anything like that (there are a ton of comments like this on the Oregonian)…instead write, "we are going to win", "we should win", "we better win or else I'm not supporting this anymore", etc.