Monday 15 May 2022 two Reds pitchers combined for a no-hitter… and lost. It is only the sixth time in MLB history that a team has allowed an opponent not a hit and yet not won. In the 8th inning the Reds loaded the bases with walks then let a runner home on an error. There is something so hopeless about this that it is important that it was the Reds, who have the worst record in baseball and this season have been hapless. Who is the other team who won the game while going hitless? It was the Pirates, but that does not matter. How many times has victory been won so passively? I don’t know, but I don’t care. Bitterly disappointed Cincinnati fans might be asking themselves, how many times has this been accomplished versus the Reds, the once mighty “Big Red Machine” Reds? Adding insult to injury, Reds star, future Hall of Famer Joey Votto was rehabbing by DH-ing—DH-ing!—for the minor league Louisville Bats that night, in fact, wearing a “Dr. Strange & the Multiverse of Madness” jersey for “Marvel Night” at the ballpark? Votto is a more compelling hero than any imagined by Stan Lee. But is there any universe among the infinite multiverses in which this year’s Reds win?
Point of view determines a story’s point. From the winner’s perspective, the game has a happy ending and so is ultimately comic. From the loser’s view, all is unhappy, better luck next time, wait ’til next year, tragic, or after awhile, even farcical. How do we decide the perspective, whether it is a story of praise or of blame, an exemplary or a cautionary tale? When the home team is involved, we know. We’re all first fans of the home team. In Cincinnati, they say, “May the best team win, unless they’re playing the Reds.” But as fans of the game, how do we judge?
Alas, the proverbial “agony of defeat” appeals more to more of us than the “thrill of victory.” When looking at Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” our eyes seem to linger longer on those falling into the inferno than on those rising to paradise. We’re more likely to gawk at a car crash than at a well-executed maneuver of parallel parking. Most seem to fear the stick more than crave the carrot. There’s an evolutionary bias in favor of the bad. It is more crucial for our survival and the passing along of our genes that we remember danger rather than pleasure. This is why we’re traumatized by trauma rather than euphorized by euphoria: “euphorized” is not even a word! No one has flashbacks to orgasm, only to that still humiliating to recall poorly formulated pick-up line that led to rejection. Our eyes stop on the color red because red is the color of blood (and the Reds).