Owning pessimism – Why it doesn’t make you a bad person

As my Milwaukee Bucks world came crashing down around me earlier this week I found myself, as I often do, looking to Twitter and Facebook for some sort of kinship. I don’t know what I was looking for. I guess I wanted to see other people complaining about the Bucks. I wanted to see people frustrated about what was going on.

My search ended almost as quickly as it began.

I saw almost nothing.

I did see the occasional person compliment Milwaukee on its effort. Then I saw someone in my Facebook timeline had a picture from the Knicks game with a caption of something like, “Got last minute tickets to the Bucks game.” The first comment was about no one ever actually making a plan to go to a Bucks game. The second was something more simple, like the Bucks suck. I shook my head, rolled my eyes and moved on to Twitter where some people were feeling the same way I was.

All the national writers and bloggers I follow had little to nothing to say about the ramifications of the Bucks-Knicks game though. A few comments about the Knicks probably securing a playoff spot and about the Bucks having their work cut out for them the rest of the way were made. Matt Moore had a bunch of funny tweets throughout the night. But after the game was done on Wednesday, the biggest regular season game the Bucks have had a couple years mind you, pretty much no one was talking about the Bucks.

That’s our reality right now. I was incredibly charged and full of a variety of thoughts from “I TOLD EVERYONE SO” to “Can it get any worse?” to “Maybe Monta Ellis can work.” But only a few hundred people really cared.

No one ever really cares. The Bucks do not matter. And that’s why I am the way I am. That’s why I write the way I write.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I want to be a more positive person. I want to be an optimist. People at work have discussed starting a list of all the things I hate. That’s probably a sign that I need to stop hating so many things (or that I need to stop being so vocal about what I hate). The Bucks would probably be on that list. Nothing in my life has ever been more love/hate than my relationship with the Bucks.

But the hatred in me just feasts and gets stronger when I see things like this:

“It’s important for the players, the coaches, myself, the business operation, and first and foremost for the fans,” Sen. Herb Kohl said of reaching the playoffs. “It’s a lot easier to sell your product when you have a winning season. If we get to the playoffs, I think we’ll all feel that we’ve had a good season. Then we’ll hope to do well in the playoffs.

When I see that, I just throw my hands up. The playoffs are a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound. I feel the same way when I see the “look how hard the Bucks are trying” stories. Or when I see everyone get excited about a handful of wins against bad teams. I just don’t care about that stuff anymore. And it’s not because I’m a bad guy or filled with some sort of toxic, puppy-kicking blood. It’s because I just want real cause to be excited and hopeful.

So bad, I want for the Bucks to matter.

Of course people want to see a playoff birth in the short term Herb, but people aren’t running the team. People want instant gratification, not long terms plans that might involve some tough times. You know what really sells a product? A good product with a strong base of players to build around. I know “playoff experience is good for players,” but you know what’s better? Better players. And you can’t tell me you’re not more likely to get a good player with the number eight pick than you are with the number 13 pick.

When your ceiling talent wise is a first round exit, saying we want to be in the playoffs because the fans want us there is like saying I’m going to eat cookies for dinner every night because they taste good. OF COURSE YOU DO. BROCCOLI DOESN’T TASTE VERY GOOD, BUT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO EAT BROCCOLI. Eating broccoli would have been taking a hit talent wise in the Andrew Bogut trade and assessing whether or not Brandon Jennings was a core piece. Setting fire to this team at the deadline would have been broccoli.

If Bogut was going to go, that was the opportunity to start all over. If the team wanted to get on track to compete for a title, that was a big chance for them. Not fall into the same trap the organization has fallen into year after year. This organization isn’t on the title track right now or even a track to be a serious competitor any time soon.

I was hopeful in 2009-10. Look back. Read the things I was writing. I saw a plan, I saw a future and I loved it. Bogut was almost an All-Star and looked like a piece to build around. Jennings too. I swear to you that in February of 2010, I was wondering if that Bucks team could have beaten the Ray Allen, Big Dog, Sam Cassell team. They played such good defense and John Salmons looked like for whatever reason he turned into a star. I justified it by saying he fit in Scott Skiles’ offense better and that it unlocked skills that were being wasted in Chicago.

I’m the same guy now that I was then. Sure, I’ve watched a lot of crummy basketball since then, but I’m just as willing to believe in a plan now as I was then.

But I’m not going to buy into something that so clearly isn’t real. I’m a pretty objective person. I don’t often make decisions based on my emotions. Right now it feels great to be rooting for a team to make it into the playoffs, at this point, the playoffs are the only hope for this season – the tanking train has long passed by. But in the long term, aside from make the team look slightly better financially, what does it really do to move the team forward? The Bucks will be back in the same position next season, hoping to grab one of the last two playoff seeds because they wanted to eat cookies and so do the people watching and writing about the team.

I actually heard someone call Monta Ellis a “transcendent” talent the other day. I’m dead serious. That’s the kind of thing that makes me who I am. That’s the kind of thing that has me writing about the shortcomings of this franchise and complaining so often. I’ll point them out if no one else will because I just don’t really care. I’ll watch games, film and analyze stats, but I’m never going to be dishonest because I’m so in love with a franchise, a player or a city or whatever.

So know that even if no one else cares, I’m always going to care. I want there to be a day that everyone doesn’t have a snarky comment ready for you when you put your picture from the Bucks game up on Facebook. I want there to be a reason for national writers to think and write interesting things about the Bucks. And I’m always going to be honest and until I see reason to be something else, I’ll probably be pretty pessimistic.

I can own that.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. He’d love it if you stopped by every time you wanted to buy something on Amazon and gave him some click-through love on the banner up on the top right. Also –Twitter.

Categories: Bucks History

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    •  @some_dude Some great reads on that site, thanks for linking.  Here’s more reading:  http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/03/26/you-don%E2%80%99t-need-to-be-bad-to-be-good-in-the-nba-2/.

    •  @some_dude Eh, I don’t think I’m buying what they are selling. What about teams that have consecutive top five picks or something along those lines? I think there is more research to be done. I’m just saying, I’d rather be Minnesota, even though they screwed up for a while, if they had a better GM they could have moved up quicker. And now they have Love and Rubio and maybe they aren’t going to the playoffs, but what team has a brighter future? Boston tanked for a few years, gathered assets and picked up KG and Ray Allen. OKC goes without saying. 
      I don’t know if it works, but I do know what the Bucks have done since trading Ray Allen hasn’t.

      •  @jeremyschmidt WoW uses faulty methodology to arrive at their conclusions. The bottom line is that a team like Milwaukee will not get much better until it gets much worse. I say this from experience.
        Warriors fan

  1. I nodded so much reading this I may have sprained my neck.  I’m tired of the Bucks not mattering.  I’d rather the Bucks have a .7 percent chance of getting a top 3 pick than serve as first round fodder for teams overwhelmingly superior to them. 
    The desire to grab the 8th spot is a mystery to me.  It would be one thing if this Bucks team had a young quality core that just needed to get valuable playoff experience.  But this team is a collection of role players.  I was at the OKC game on Monday and it reminded me of watching a 16 seed play a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. 
    And it’s not pessimism.  It’s just reality.  It’s just that the reality sucks.

  2. I hear you Jeremy, and I think everybody that visits Bucks blogs agrees that relevance would be amazing. But I am not convinced that competing for a #8 seed in the playoffs is worse than blowing up the team in the hopes of building something better down the road. How is an 8 pick going to land any more certainty than a 13 pick? I’m sure you’re probably right that CHANCES are higher that it’ll be better, but unless you’re picking top 5, what’s the difference? I think the gap between 8 and 13 is insignificant compared to the positives that come with the franchise making the playoffs for the second time in 3 years. And this was before having read that tanking doesn’t even work like most people think it does.
    This Bucks team may not currently be capable of winning a championship or even contending for one, but isn’t it pretty good compared to most of what we’ve had this past decade? We have a competent coach and a great mix of talent and role-players, young and old – why blow that up? Barring trades, on the roster for next year are: Jennings, Ellis, Dunleavy, Udoh, LRMAM, Gooden, Sanders, Harris, and Leuer, and maybe Livingston (team option) and Udrih (player option). Add a true center in the draft, bring back Ilyasova if the prices makes sense, and continue to improve through consistency. And hopefully avoid mistakes like Maggette and Cap’n Jack.

  3. Being a pessimistic sports fan wouldn’t make you a bad person because it’s only sports after all.  It does turn you into someone that no one would want to watch sports with.  Do not forget the lessons taught by Randy Quaid in Major League 2.

  4. I choose to look on the optimistic side in this case…showing the desire the team showed to win last night gives me hope… I do not disagree with most of what you write. I just choose to try to look at the positive side I guess.

  5. I remember that ESPN commercial from a few years back “What’s the best thing about being a sports fan.. There’s always next year.”.. I am going to be an optimist and say we’re a couple of pieces away from being a top four team.. Generic fan statement, but i think the Bucks are in better shape than a team like the Sixers with Brand (aging) and Hawes(terrible).. I am excited to see the offseason development of Harris, Leuer, Udoh, and Sanders.. With a terrible free agent period for big men this year we need to depend on the draft and I want Meyers Leonard over a guy like Tyler Zeller.. Zeller is solid, but Meyers has so much more upside and can be an immediate impact defensive player and a project offensive player.. Besides that I am sure Hammond will find the other pieces…..            And if Skiles gets fired I will be very angry

    • PattiRafalskiDavison

       @JustinNixon With the lock out last summer, Harris, Leuer, Udoh & Sanders were deprived of Summer League and NBA coaching.  The guys that needed the most got the least help.  Add your guy Meyers Leonard and (dare I say it) Kwame Brown or some other trades or FA…Hammond has a little room to work for the first time since he came to Milwaukee.  We should be more optimistic going into this next year than the past two.  We clearly are a ‘pretty good’ team now so with a couple moves we are that much closer to that ‘excellent’ benchmark to make a run at the playoffs.

      •  @PattiRafalskiDavison We had plenty of room to work with before Hammond overpaid Salmons and Gooden and traded for Maggette. That was the best free agent market in years and those were his big splash moves. With the new CBA looming, those moves were reprehensible. He has to go.

  6. I know what you are saying Jeremy. I know the economy is tough but to see te place empty for a big game is not going to help us keep this team viable long term. There is no support and I bleed the same way as you. I’m actually worried we are close to losing this team to another city. I do agree we are in a better position but I do think they need to amenesty Drew Gooden and hope Udrih doesn’t come back for 6M. Between the 2, maybe we can add another big body and keep Ers. I think he is worth resigning.

  7. Jeremy, you ARE right. The playoffs are a stab in a shotgun wound for the Bucks. Until the Bucks get new ownership like the Brewers did,little will change. They are BORING. That’s why nobody cares. Seriously–if you heard the Bucks were going to trade ANY of their existing players would you really care? Th3. That’s not his fault. He was a 10th pick in a draft where we should have been picking 5th or 6th. But we wanted to make the playoffs. Well, we didn’t and we didn’t get a top pick. The drop-off after 5th or 6th was huge. Now it’ll be the same thing this time. And we need a center. OUCH. Get a link to this post now. Bogut is going to have a breakout year in Golden State next season. Not because he isn’t hurt. But because he’s no longer in Milwaukee.

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