As I root for a team and look at that teams main rivals if I know my team is less talented than a given rival, as is the case with this year's Cubs when compared to some of their division rivals, I hope that they can somehow overachieve and make the playoffs. In a perfect world I'd like that to be "fair and square" meaning my guys just play better than their guys.
So how am I supposed to respond to these news nuggets:
- Adam Wainwright may be out for the year.
- Justin Morneau still can't see straight.
- Miguel Cabrera imitates Ron Burgundy.
- Aaron Rodgers had a concussion.
- LeBron James is in the hospital after eating some poisonous fugu.
- Planes carrying all Boston professional sports teams were mysteriously shot down.*
I personally don't want to wish or enjoy injuries to players on my teams rivals. It seems wrong to wish ill on someone who's only crime is that they play a game in a different shirt than the team I root for. And sometimes I'll even end up rooting for a guy I used to despise (see Rodman, Dennis). So how can I root or be happy when someone gets hurt?
I have a friend who has no such qualms. We were discussing the Super Bowl matchup between the Packers and the Steelers and he was stating that he had no desire to watch the game as he disliked both teams and therefore had nothing to root for. I stated that it could be worse in that Brett Favre could be in the game. He said that would give him a reason to watch as he would be hoping that the Steelers killed him. He was only slightly exaggerating.
Professionals deal with the same thing. The Cubs answered diplomatically when asked about Wainwright's injury while Johnny Gomes was rejoicing, singing a chorus of "Wainwright's gone", and Dusty Baker needs to let it go already! (I digress.)
Ultimately a team wins with the players on the field and no one gives you credit just because a team's best was injured. No one credits the 1972 White Sox with a Western Division title just because Bill Melton battled a bad back the entire last half of the season. No one gives the 1984 Bears the NFC title even though they lost Jim McMahon to a lacerated kidney midway through the season. If your team has depth a sub may step in and begin an All Star career like Tom Brady did in 2001 after Drew Bledsoe was injured. If the Phillies lost Roy Halladay they'd probably still be favorites in the East because they have enough good pitchers to weather that storm.
Depth will help you out that way. But the Cardinals aren't deep so this injury will cause them some serious hardship. And, given that Wainwright's injury isn't life-threatening, that's all that matters to me and the laundry that I root for. I'll be slightly happier knowing I don't have to worry about Wainwright pitching every fifth day for the Cardinals. Awesome! Wooo! Cardinals suck! Wooooo!