As I sat in the bar, watching the game wind down and the final seconds tick off the clock, you could see it on their faces and in their joyous expressions. No, not the players, though they surely felt some of it too. I'm talking about the fans. I couldn't hear them, mind you, my ear drums now tomato red from the bleeding they had endured at the hands of the seemingly never ending chant of "WHO DAT!?" that filled the air over the previous four hours. The sound was irrelevant. It was the sight I was focused on.
While I watched the madness unfold in front of me, I realized I was jealous. Not of the outcome, I had seen fans of other teams celebrate their championships over the years and it never affected me one way or the other. No, I was jealous of the emotion. The pure jubilation on the faces of the New Orleans faithful is something that most sports fans are enormously envious of, wheather they'd like to admit it or not. I know I am. I want that for my favorite team. Obviously every fan base gets excited when the team they root for wins a championship, but that feeling differs depending on the team and situation. I can't prove this, but I'm guessing that winning a title to Saint fans feels a bit different than it does for, say, Yankee fans. If you could somehow bottle up and sell the feeling that all Saints fans had Sunday night, you'd be a billionaire over night.
We count down the days until the start of spring training each year because of that feeling. We watch 162 games because of that feeling. We go through the emotional highs and lows of each series, each game, and sometimes even each pitch because of that feeling. We care far too much about who is going to win the final bench spot and which player is going to pinch hit in the bottom of the 8th because of that feeling. This area was given a little taste of the feeling in 2008 when the Rays won Game 7 of the ALCS, then had it rudely taken away. Now that we know how it tastes we're like a junkie jonesing for the next fix of the good stuff. The disappointment of 2009 has only strengthened that desire.
Football is over. Spring training is merely weeks away, and the hunger to attain that feeling begins anew. Though this franchise is still young, and will never know the plight of a team like New Orleans, let's hope this is the season it happens. I'd really hate to be eternally chasing the dragon like Cub fans.