BY JASON CORLISS
When last we shared this space, I discussed the inherent frustration, perverse masochism and eternal optimism that comes along with being a RBNY supporter. And, as if on cue, in the stretch of games that came directly thereafter, the boys were handed a brutal beating in Chicago, managed a tough draw in Vancouver, beat the hated DC Scum in a sold-out RBA that provided the best single-game atmosphere that many of the players and fans had ever experienced, then ended the run with a toothless draw at a much improved, but still cellar-dwelling Toronto.
A tidy microcosm of a typical RBNY season.
However, as much as we tend to default to that perspective out of habit, a glance at the league table reminds us that RBNY is two points off of the East lead with a game in hand on DC, and fourth in the race for the Shield, five points off of SJ with a game in hand there as well. Oh, and by the way, RBNY just completed its best first half of a season (on a ppg basis) in franchise history, on the back of an unbeaten home record. I’d like to think that we, and the support we provide, has something to do with that.
On this day on which we celebrate the most famous of American Declarations, it’d be a cheap stunt to minimize its importance by writing a supporter-focused parody (even though I REALLY want to), so, out of respect, and in the interest of my own sanity, I’ll make a more mundane declaration of my own: I hereby declare my refusal to assume this season will end in soul-crushing, glorious, bland or any other fashion…in fact, I will reserve expectation and live in the Now for each game hence, firmly believing that I, in my capacity as a supporter, do have an impact on the proceedings by helping to create an atmosphere, at home and away, that our boys feed off of, and that troubles opponents.
Obviously, this will be no easy task, given this team’s historical penchant for emotional groin kicking. But, I’m resolute in this endeavor. Aimee Mann knows exactly what I’m talkin’ about.
Oh, for the sake of momentum
Even though I agree with that stuff about seizing the day
But I hate to think of effort expended
All those minutes and days and hours
I have frittered away
And I know life is getting shorter
I can’t bring myself to set the scene
Even when it’s approaching torture
I’ve got my routine
But I can’t confront the doubts I have
I can’t admit that maybe the past was bad
And so, for the sake of momentum
I’m condemning the future to death
So it can match the past.
Much has been made of the occasional lack of synchronicity among the South Ward, in terms of in-stadium singing, etc. And, over the course of the season, steps have been taken to remedy this…to generally positive effect. Given many of the players’ post-game comments throughout the year, it’s clear that we do make an impact; the DC game being the most recent/most obvious example. Sure, there are personal and cultural impediments preventing the South Ward from being the most harmonious group it might otherwise be, but, well…duh! Welcome to the world. As we’ve discussed here previously, unison and unity aren’t the same thing, and that’s often to the good.
We stand, once again, at the cusp of an exciting, possibly historic, stretch run. And, make no mistake, we do have a part to play in the outcome. With 11 of the final 18 games at RBA, and five of those away games within easy traveling distance, we have no excuse not to show up in numbers and make ourselves heard. In a very real sense, this is our time to shine. Even in the darkest depths of my own equivocation and resignation about this team’s futility, I can’t help but feel as though all of the effort and commitment we give to this team will be returned to us in the form of a Cup. Someday. Maybe it’ll be this year…if we have anything to say about it. As this Built to Spill track reminds us, the answer is often hiding in plain sight, but it’s up to us to open our eyes and see it…accept it…implement it.
The plan keeps coming up again
The plan means nothing stays the same
But the plan won’t accomplish anything
If it’s not implemented
Like it’s always been
And it makes me think of everyone
And the cause of this is evident
But the remedy cannot be found
Cause it’s so well hidden
This history lesson doesn’t make any sense
In any less than ten thousand year increments
Of common sense
Of course, we can only do so much, which is where the psychological judo comes in. While we can do all in our power and hope for the best, we’re ultimately, literally, spectators. What kind of person invests his very psyche in a pursuit in which he willingly deludes himself into thinking that he can actually play a tangible role in the outcome, when that contribution is intangible at best, especially given the fact that the actual game is carried on by people with their own personal motivations and reactions?
Could be a bit depressing when laid out like that, huh? Not really, though. Embracing who you are in this sort of context is freeing, more than anything else. Giving oneself over to the notion that no matter how hard one tries to influence the outcome of a situation the result is still out of our hands, enables us to embrace our role and push ourselves to the fullest without fear of failure or consequence. This doesn’t protect us from the inevitable comedown, but it’s an honest read on this relationship we as supporters have with the teams we support. No quid pro quo is required or requested, only unconditional support with the promise of promise.
We may not be hopeless
But we’re still helpless in the end
Just remember your floating
Remember the love that we were in
As each trophy-less year slides into the next, we ask ourselves why we do this. This is clearly a topic that I enjoy discussing and, as I’ve written before, the answer, of course, is because. But, beyond the psychology of motivation, the question remains….will we be somehow changed if/when RBNY does actually win a Cup or the Shield? Will our fervor retain its edge…its urgency? I hope so, but it’s impossible to say unless/until it comes to fruition. Believe me, I’d VERY MUCH like to address this question at the appropriate juncture, but I’m resigned to living in the Now. Also, I think my head would explode at some point anyway, so let’s just take things game by game.
In fairness, the excitement and tension of reaching the unreachable is always among the ultimate prime motivators. Seeing all of the other original MLS teams lift Cups, and watching their supporters celebrate, has been painful enough. But, that, coupled with experiencing this franchise’s futility firsthand, in the face of such fervent historical support among its core fans, is a pain known only to a select few other American sports franchises’ fan bases. While misery loves company, I’d prefer a little unbridled joy.
Even though this Pretenders track ostensibly speaks to the same point, lyrically, it’s the musicality that does the trick for me. This song, too often these days brushed off as a classic rock radio filler, rocks SO. DAMN. HARD. From the bass line to Chrissy Hynde’s fiery cool, it’s impossible not to give myself over to it completely each time I hear it. And, perhaps that’s the lesson here, after all. It’s the visceral connection we’re after, and the lure of success, or actual success itself, is a nice well-earned byproduct. Nahhhh…who am I kidding…WE WANT THE CUP!
Don’t breathe down my neck, no
I got no trophies on display
I sign them away
I mean what the heck
All of your promises
Don’t fill me with pride, no
I just want to get out on the floor
And do the Cuban Slide, Slide, Slide, Slide
Every day, every night time I find
You’re on my mind, on my mind, on my mind
Every day, every night time I feel
You’re so unreal…
There remains half a season to be played…games to be won…songs to be sung…road trips to be taken. Where will you be? How will you contribute? It truly is now or never (as it is every year). The South Ward will be bringing the noise both at home and away. If you’d like to be a part of our debaucherous cacophony, please join us as we travel to New England on Sunday, July 8th. Details here.
See you in the seats…just don’t be sitting on one.