As I'm sitting here in my kitchen, skipping my Evidence class and listening to the first real bad thunderstorm of the season, I'm struck realizing that I don't want to do this right now. I didn't get around to doing a joint questions preview for tonight's match (New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew, to make this lede paragraph SEO-friendly) and now I'm basically on a schedule to try and get one done this morning, in time for it to be relevant. And it's a chore.
I love the Revs. I love writing. I love writing about the Revs. But ten games into a winless run with no answers and far too many shades of 2011 (and 2010, really) flashing before us, I must confess that writing about New England's premier soccer club just isn't that much fun.
You see, contrary to the popular belief of some, and the modus operandi of some of my writing contemporaries, I don't like to be a dark cloud. In fact, I hate constantly writing about what New England is doing wrong, why the Revs are irrelevant in the Boston sports scene, who the newest bust signing is at Gillette, and where Robert Kraft is focusing his attention (strange videos with bikini-clad women, at the moment) since it's never on the Revs. I mean, it's a constant stream of readable content, but it gets really, really old.
The funny thing is, I don't know what it's like to write good things about this team. I caught a glimpse - ever so brief - of that feeling earlier this season when the Revs were playing a startlingly entertaining brand of attacking soccer, but that faded. This is sort of my curse, as I didn't begin my blogging career until the 2010 season when things were firmly in downward spiral mode, but that doesn't make it any less depressing.
You would think that all of this experience hating on the club and organization, pointing out all of the glaring errors they somehow manage to make, would harden me into a cynical stone wall of emotionless resolve, able to handle whatever disappointment and heartbreak the team throws at me. Actually, years of loving terrible teams (Newcastle United in England, the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, the Sox/Bruins/Celtics before recent history) still hasn't made it any easier for me to handle the unmitigated sense of despair that a lost season can bring; if anything, it's made it worse.
It makes me angry now. I'm righteously enraged. In private circles with people I know, I rail against the organization that allowed arguably the most successful team of the ‘00s to dwindle into a team so futile that even Toronto fans are starting to cringe. I curse and gnash my teeth at an ownership group that - despite what organization reps might say to the contrary - so obviously doesn't care even slightly about the team so long as the investment remains regularly profitable (thanks to single-entity and SUM, it does).
By the way, as an aside to that point, I want to say that I like some of the staff in the Revs FO. Brian Bilello, for example, is a great guy to talk to and I truly believe his passion for the position and the team. But I'm waiting desperately for the ballsy whistleblower who finally comes out, at the risk of his or her job, and just says what we all already know: "Bob Kraft doesn't do enough, and doesn't care." It's not that I want to blame the owners for everything or that I'm one of those angsty Revs fans who blows up twitter all the time, but when MLS experts and pundits across the nation are talking about how the Krafts are the worst ownership group in the league, you have to start thinking that where there's smoke, there's fire. Just common sense.
Anyway, back to the anger. Or maybe not. I don't know, it just makes me mad. These are good players! This is a team with some talent! Why are they losing?! Why do I go into press conferences and listen to excuses about physical play and refereeing decisions? The former is something you can adjust to tactically; the latter is a fact of MLS. Figure it out! Other teams do!
Why do I watch eleven professional soccer players all fall asleep at the same time on throw-ins? Why do I consistently see Revolution players line up a move, telegraph it, watch the other team plug the lane or cover the target player, and then still try to play the ball in that move? Inevitably, the move fails, and there is a giveaway. This is not difficult to notice, or to fix! IT IS SO FRUSTRATING.
It's enough to make a guy want to give up. There were moments last season where I even considered dropping this altogether; writing is my passion, not my job. I have other things I could be doing, and I certainly don't get paid any appreciable amount to do this.
Inevitably, though, something will happen that pulls me back in. The Revs will put on a flawless performance, or hang four on somebody out of nowhere, and like a giddy schoolgirl I'll be right back in it. And I'm at a point now where I have matured to the point that I can recognize my own behavior patterns and rationally defeat the urge to hit rock bottom.
The Revs may sink to the lowest depths, but I won't follow them. I will remain a level just above, watching and waiting, extending the hand to pull them out of their hole and thus rise with them to relevance and maybe even glory (not my own relevance or glory, but theirs). And when that day comes, the day that I can start seriously writing about playoff matchups, MVP candidates, and silverware, I will look back on these days and remember that I earned the right to be there by sticking around when things were at their worst.
Besides, you know the air at the top will taste all the more sweet for all the time we spent at the bottom.
Full disclosure: I finished writing this at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, so before the Columbus game. Therefore, now that the Revs won, I'm obviously all sunshine and roses for at least a few days. Trust me, though, this feeling will come back.