I’ve got to say, I’m really glad 2014 is about two and a half months away. Or at least I usually am. I get really nostalgic about one year ending and another one beginning, but 2013 has not been kind to any of my teams.
The New York Mets finished third in the NL East with a 74-88 record—far from anything to be proud of. The New York Giants are 1-6, and their chance to make the playoffs is essentially completely gone. And it may be too soon to say for sure, but the New York Rangers aren’t looking too hot either with their 2-5 record to begin the season.
The struggle is real. For me, each new season in 2013 seemed to bring with it yet another disappointing team.
Most of our Light Blue teams have either been disappointing big-ticket squads (e.g. basketball, football) or excellent under-the-radar sides (e.g. squash, fencing). But the baseball team is an interesting case. Before last year’s incredible run, the Lions last won the Ivy title in 2008. Two championships within five years sounds great—until you look at the trends in the team’s records. Since the start of the millennium, the Light Blue has suffered seven losing seasons in conference play—two of which came after the ’08 crown.
Would it be completely out of left field to expect the Lions to put up a losing record this season? As pessimistic as it might sound, probably not.
I suppose we just have to accept the cyclical nature of sports. Teams that have built dynasties in the sports world—like the Patriots, the Lakers, the Spurs, and the Yankees—should considered anomalies rather than the norm. Sustaining levels of consistent, championship-level success is difficult and unusual. Even these teams fall victim to the inevitable cycle of sports—they may have winning records every year, but they’re not making deep playoff runs year in and year out. So in their own way, they’re bound to cycles just like all other teams.
The winning-and-losing cycle is even more inescapable in college since athletes generally spend only four years with their teams. There is a continuous stream of athletes filtering through the teams, which makes it far more difficult to build a dynasty.
If you’re an avid fan of a dynastic team, good for you. I can only imagine what the promise of one strong season after the next must be like. For the rest of us, we can only ride the emotional roller coasters with our teams, celebrating at the highest highs and crying at the lowest lows. What else can we do? And I see it like this: We savor the championships even more because of those losing seasons.
Yes, a good chunk of our athletic teams are currently, and have been for a while now, on the losing end of the cycle. But I’m a big believer in the notion that good things come to those who wait, and I’m convinced that the upside of the cycle may be around the corner.
Why, you ask? It’s just the nature of sports.
Melissa Cheung is a Columbia College junior majoring in English. Closing In runs biweekly.