Here’s a dead-lock guarantee: Sometime during the 49ers-Seahawks playoff game Sunday, I will bemoan a bad play and insist that failure is imminent, sounding for all the world like Eeyore.
And it will irritate Mrs. Brad.
I know it will happen. Because it always happens: I complain to the TV, Mrs. Brad thinks I’m irrational and need to change my approach.
Sports provides a reversal of our real-life personalities, in which Mrs. Brad is sometimes melancholy and I’m nearly always a Pollyanna. When we watch sports, I’m Mr. Negative and she thinks we should always root, root, root for the home team.
Mrs. Brad isn’t a new sports fan. Her father was a coach. We’ve watched hundreds of games a year for decades. Just this past week, she did an impersonation of 1980s San Francisco Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard for a friend, making me laugh.
But after nearly 30 years of marriage, she still doesn’t understand why I so quickly become negative while watching my favorite teams.
I insist that pain taught me to be that way. It’s not my fault. I just remember the losses better than the wins.
So when my teams struggle – when the Golden State Warriors don’t play defense or the 49ers commit a dumb penalty or the Giants’ bullpen fails – I call on history: “Here we go again!” When a player makes a mistake or misses an assignment, I shout at the TV and say I knew they’d fail. Because they always ultimately fail. Which is true. Only one team wins a championship in sports each year. Every other team ultimately fails, often in high-profile ways.
The 49ers have won five Super Bowls, but lost eight NFC Championship games. The Warriors have won only two playoff series in 20 years. The Giants fell short my entire life until three years ago. My teams seem to always let me down, so I prepare myself by anticipating it, sometimes loudly. I think it’s reasonable, but maybe it’s just self-preservation.
Mrs. Brad, however, thinks to express anger and to complain about your team shows a lack of belief.
When the Warriors overcame a 27-point deficit to beat the Toronto Raptors earlier this year, my celebration was tempered by her reminder that I said there was no way they could do it. Every time a Giants reliever struggles to throw strikes, I express my disgust. When the same player comes back to pitch effectively, Mrs. Brad chastises me for not believing in him.
I suspect we both secretly believe our reaction to his performance led to the turnaround.
Mrs. Brad isn’t much of an NFL fan these days, so she may excuse herself from watching parts of the 49ers-Seahawks game. But when she’s in the living room with me, I know there will be at least a few times that I’ll express frustration at a dropped pass or the team’s maddening inability to get plays off before being penalized. I’ll remind my television that those have been problems all year. Mrs. Brad will look at me askance.
I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong, but I know this much: If they would just listen to me, they’d be more successful.
And if they’d just listen to her, they’d be more encouraged.
So in my book, we’re a great team! (Who will, ultimately, make a painful mistake. If we’re like all the other teams I love.)
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.