Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the joys of being a hater

Before I get into today’s post, an update on the crash:

UTRider and I hiked up to the crash site. I’m pretty sure this is where it happened:

I got a little too far to the right where the trail slopes off, and my wheel washed out. I think that rock is what I landed on.

The arm is doing OK. It’s uncomfortable, but not painful. I’ve for the most part been able to avoid taking the Lortab, which is nice, because that stuff makes me sick.

Here’s a shot of the stitches and road rash:

Now on to today’s post:

Being a sports fan sucks. If you’re a fan of team sports, mathematically your team has no more than a 5% chance of winning the title in any given year. Realistically, if you’re a fan of Manchester United or the New York Yankees, it’s greater than 5% (ever wonder why those teams have so many “fans”). If you’re a fan of anyone else, your chances are quite a bit less than that.

My brother Adam, whose life pretty much revolves around being a sports fan, is content that the Denver Broncos won two Super Bowls in his lifetime. He figures his quota has been filled, and if they ever win another one, it’s just a bonus.

While this Zen attitude may work for him, I find it’s much easier to be a hater. Sure, I have my teams, but I also hate the rivals of my teams, and watching the rivals lose is almost as satisfying as seeing my team win. For instance, if the Dodgers get knocked out of the NLCS, I can just cheer against the Yankees. And I don’t even need the Dodgers to get knocked out to cheer against the Yankees—I can do it anytime.

Even though the Dodgers are more likely not to win the World Series than to win it, since the Yankees are also more likely not to win the World Series than win it, I usually finish the season happy. In fact, it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been disappointed with the World Series winner.

The other great thing about being a hater is that you also become a secondary fan of the other rivals of your team’s rival. For instance, I hate the New England Patriots (which is weird, because they’re not really a rival of the Broncos, and their quarterback is a Michigan guy, but I hate them anyway). So I’m a secondary fan of the Indianapolis Colts. When the Broncos lose, I can take solace in either a Patriots loss or a Colts victory. It’s a great hedging strategy.

As a cycling fan, being a hater is even more rewarding. Because with close to 200 guys in any given race, the chances of anyone not named Mark Cavendish winning are pretty slim. So being a Cavendish fan and a Boonen hater is immensely rewarding.

Moreover, even if a hated rider, such as in my case, Contadoper or Evans, happens to win, one can always cheer for the guys wearing white coats in the doping control labs. And those guys aren’t constrained by the duration of the race to come up with their results. Sure, Contadoper and Evans won the two biggest road races this year, but I’m still cheering for the doping control guys to provide me with a victory, and I can continue cheering for them until another season’s winners are crowned and beyond. I never have to give up hope that my hated riders will lose. See how nice that is?

Being a hater isn’t just limited to the field of competition, either. As a blogger, I can hate on anyone and anything anytime without having to come up with anything constructive or better.

For instance, I recently read about the 2010 Specialized S-works Stumpjumper. This bike has 5.5 inches of travel and weighs 23 pounds. I’d be happy if my hardtail weighed 23 pounds—the engineers that built a full-suspension bike that light are geniuses.

Problem is, their product manager is an idiot. He spec’d the bike with SRAM XX in the rear. Way cool, right? The desirability factor of this bike just went up past where it was already. And then he ruined it—he spec’d a Specialized-brand triple crank on the front end.

Are you kidding me? 90% of the coolness of XX is that it’s a 2x10 drivetrain. It doesn’t have quite the range of a triple, but the shifting is cleaner and crisper. It’s a leaner, lighter setup that won’t let you sit down and spin on that steep move. It’s geared for racers who would rather go fast than be comfortable. And that’s what makes it so awesome.

But to water it down with a triple? It’s like the Dura-Ace triple crank that thankfully no longer exists. If you need a triple to get up the hill, you certainly don’t need Dura-Ace. The new Stumpjumper is spec’d with the XX 11-36 cassette. If you can’t get up the hill in 22x34, you’re not going to make it in 22x36 either. So what’s the point of putting XX on the bike if you’re just going to bastardize it with a triple crank?

I hope someone from Specialized reads this, because I’ll say what the magazines relying on their ad dollars won’t: your parts spec ruined a cool bike. If the buyer of this thing needs a triple then he’d be better off buying something a few steps down from the S-works model and spending the rest of his money at Jenny Craig.


  1. Your arm looks pretty good in comparison to that last butcher shop photo. And I doubt you're a true hater. Seem like too nice a guy.

    Regarding triples -- I'm using my old MTB as a commuter rig, it has a triple (not sure of the gearing, other than it's an 8 speed cassette). Even with fully loaded panniers, I have to ride that thing in the big ring and really only have one or two useable gears. Time for singlespeed? Or at least a new cassette. I feel a blog post coming on....

  2. Fan of Boonen, hate hincapie with a passion. Evans should have stuck with mtn biking or gotten into cross. I remember seeing him when he was only a teenager killing the elite field at a Mammoth World Cup in the early 90's, cant say I am a hater of him since he use to be a real big ringer back in the day.

    Hate the Colts, the way Irsay rolled out in the middle of the night on the fans of Baltimore was BS and he will never be forgiven. I think that whole incident took years off the lives of some of my uncles and grandfather. Colt hater til I die.

  3. I like the blue stitches.

    "Your hate will make you strong."

  4. Kind of like when Utah lost to Oregon. It did not hurt as much because BYU also lost to FSU? Had BYU won the taunting would have been unbearable. As it was we all just went to our respective corners and licked our wounds.

  5. Forrest: For some reason I forgot you grew up in Baltimore. I lived in Maryland when the Colts rolled out, but I was young, and my dad is a Redskins fan, so it didn't really bother me. Still a low blow by Irsay, I'll agree. While moving the Browns out of Cleveland had to be painful for the fans there, I thought the way they were brought into Baltimore was classy. There was just a thing on ESPN about that. My brothers have been to Baltimore for a Colts-Ravens game. The hate was strong.

  6. I will never cheer against the Ravens, but I moved to Colorado long before the Ravens moved back to Baltimore, so the team I identify most with is the Broncos. I know that breaks the hearts of my Baltimore fans, but hey I was without a team growing up and I loved Colorado and everything about that state.

  7. Also are you a fan of "The Wire"?

  8. I've never watched "The Wire." I've heard it's great. Just never watched it.

  9. I didn't think anything but an XX crank would work with XX rear?

    I watched that ESPN Colt's special, and I now hate the Irsays. That press conference was one of the best train wrecks in sports history.

  10. Adam, apparently the Specialized S-works triple crank and XTR front derailleur will work with the XX rear, because that's how it's spec'd. The spec sheet says it's a XX front shifter, but that wouldn't work. Maybe it's an X.0, maybe it's a Shimano. Regardless, it's a disaster.

  11. This picture is much less satisfying than the last. However, in my professional opinion, your arm is looking great and will heal up nicely!

  12. your scar is going to be so much cooler than mine.

  13. This post puts sports into orderly clarity.

  14. "If you need a triple to get up the hill, you certainly don’t need Dura-Ace."


  15. I rode the S-works Stumpy at the Specialized press launch this summer. Have to agree the triple mars an otherwise perfect bike. The front shifter is an X.0 and it shifts well. However, again the mismatched shifters look kind of goofy on a $8,000+ bike. The S-works crank with the XX double like on the Epic should have been the call. I can only think they envisioned endurance racers using it and needing the triple when you're completely blown 6 hours in and facing a steep climb.

    Other than the triple, the bike rocks. The Epic is still my favorite, but the Stumpy can do it all. However, for sheer fun, the S-works Enduro is hard to beat. Too bad I just got to test and can't afford any of them. Next year will be year 5 on my Carbon Epic. I'll have to settle for a new fork.

    With Barry Bonds out of baseball, my hate is still looking for a home.