The death of the 3-1 joke
As I watched the Cubs pull out their fantastic comeback, I sent out a couple of tweets.
The only way God could be clearer about "cut the 3-1 jokes" is if Jesus had arrived to pitch the bottom of the 10th. https://t.co/TnUSSzg5JG— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) November 3, 2016
And I was surprised how many Warriors fans came out with me to celebrate on Twitter. We all in our own ways were feeling a great venting, a catharsis.
The Bay Area is now pressing send on their "3-1 lead" tweets saved in drafts— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) November 3, 2016
And my favorite little exchange was between Matt Moore, whose writing is often nuanced but has been the worst retweeter of poor “3-1” jokes, and Killjoy.
This does not spare the Warriors. It only expands the misery, which is my preferred outcome.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 3, 2016
To which I was going to reply “Nah B”, but Killjoy said it all for me:
Yes, closure. Basically, who is making these 3-1 jokes?
Serious NBA Observers? Of course not. That’s pretty much a foolproof litmus test: if you reduce a fantastic Finals to a 3-1 joke or “analyze” the Finals without mentioning Curry’s injury, you are not a serious NBA writer.
Casual Fans? Most casuals like the Warriors, so no. Maybe bandwagoners who smell blood and want to pile on. But this joke got old months ago and the bandwagon already left.
Fans of non-CLE teams. Yeah, some do joke, but can you really joke hard about a team that’s better than your team and got farther? And these fans basically hate the Warriors for being Uppity. But even the garden variety Haters of people who strive for greatness must realize the joke is old.
So that leaves the Cleveland fans. Now, I don’t get it. Of all fans, they should not be making 3-1 jokes. When the Warriors came back from 3-1 against the Thunder, did W’s fans spam the internet with “Thunder blew a 3-1 lead” jokes? OF COURSE NOT. First of all, the Thunder kicked butt and played really well, except for some key stretches, and they would have won if not for Klay going HAM and Steph digging deep for a little Game 7 magic. Instead, we celebrated the incredible comeback and clutch plays that won it.
Second, and I wish this was too obvious to say, IT DEVALUES YOUR WIN when you crap on the opponent. “Grandpa, tell us about your comeback!” “Well, the other team really sucked and was full of chokers...” I mean, imagine if after the 2015 Warriors championship, social media went nuts with “Cavs blew a 2-1 lead”. I would have said, screw that, the Warriors CAME BACK and took that lead back. The Cavs didn’t choke it away!
I don’t get into it much on Twitter, because pretty much every single one of my few followers is cool, but I still attracted random mocking Cavs fans all summer.
I don't get it. I say LBJ and CLE had a gutsy great series. If you're right, CLE sucks for going 3-1 down to losers. https://t.co/EX8qafYqiI— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) August 12, 2016
But anyway, if any fan base had the sports standing to make 3-1 jokes, it was the Cleveland base. And after last night...
Isn't it funny how it takes the most epic karmic blowbacks in all of sports history to get some people to see nuance? https://t.co/lbbbvFILkT— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) November 3, 2016
I don’t think we’ll get a lot more 3-1 jokes out of Cleveland.
And if you are a Warriors fan with dignity, you won’t be starting any 3-1 jokes either (after a 24 hour grace period to get it out of our system), because basically they are not funny and infantile.
And furthermore, anyone who watched that World Series, and that incredible Game 7, and reduces it to “Cleveland blew a 3-1 lead” is truly small minded and a fool. And anyone who watched the 2016 Finals and that incredible Game 7... well the parallels are so overwhelming, one wonders if we’re all in a computer simulation and not a very subtle one.
So, there I was at Finals Game 7 at Oracle. Exhausted, stunned from the outcome, shuffling out with nineteen thousand other stunned fans. Feeling numb from the weeks of playoffs on the edge of Warriors elimination. Cursing suspensions and injuries, thinking about what if certain Warriors had shot better or if the big men had played better under pressure. Relief that it all was over. Disappointment that the Warriors couldn’t finish off what would have easily been the greatest NBA season ever. But also as a fan of the game, much respect to both teams for having played such an amazing basketball game.
Suddenly, there were gasps and shouts and a thud, and then worried murmurs. I said to my wife, “Is that a fight?” And a moment later, my wife peered over the edge and said, “Oh my god, I think someone fell!” But we couldn’t see through the mass of people, and we couldn’t even move. We just hoped for the best as we creeped along with the crowd. We later learned that a Warriors fan had indeed just plummeted off the edge, but survived and was hospitalized (his GoFundMe here).
It was a sobering moment. Someone could have just died in real life. And here we all were, lucky enough to have watched a historic, iconic sports event. We don’t have bombs falling on us, we had enough to eat. I said, “At least Cleveland will be happy. They’ve been cursed long enough. And maybe this will give them some hope so they don’t vote for demagogue con men.” And so we made the slow march home, with disappointment, complex feelings, but counting our blessings.
And then, I opened up Twitter and the immaturity rolled in.
I wish I could go back to that feeling before and maybe someday I will.
Because sports, at its best, gives us models of how to improve ourselves, how to persevere, how to work together for a greater good, how to suffer losses and disappointments with dignity and turn it into fuel. It gives us a model of how to compete and have the competition elevate everyone by bringing out your best.
And all the 3-1 jokes are about the worst side of sports. The mocking, the disrespect, the cowardly mob picking on the low, the toxic side of male gender roles, the valuing of dominance and assertiveness over nuance and intelligence, the valuing of The Win and The Ringz over, you know, the actual work, striving and playing.
Let us celebrate the death of the 3-1 joke, because its passing is another step forward in our common march towards maturity and decency to one another.