I am what I like to call an “optimistic pessimist”. What that means, at least in my own little world, is that I find the worst case scenario for pretty much any situation I come across and dwell on it for anywhere between five minutes or until the ever-widening maw of devastation eats us all alive.1 With that mindset, it does take some years off my life worrying about that worst-case scenario, but since I’ve already played out the 14,000,605 futures that could possibly take place, when THAT doesn’t happen, I see a bright side! Oh, you wrecked your car in a horrible accident because you were too cheap to buy new wiper blades and the spring equinox changed how quickly the sun came up and you couldn’t see the semi truck braking in front of the white Ford Taurus in front of you because your windshield was messy and the sun was blinding so you slam into the back of their car and spin around no less than two times before coming to a stop on the side of the road an hour away from any friends or family to come to help you?2 Well…at least you get a day off work as you go to the hospital, the rental car place and you get to shop for a new car again! See, a happy side to an otherwise crappy situation. All because I set up expectations of the worst kind.
But we don’t usually expect the worst. Often times humans expect or hope for the best in life. Take the NBA lottery for example. Endless blogs and mock drafts and fan hopes were built up to either hold fast at No. 2 or at the very least fall to No. 3. We sent Nicky Gilbert to be the ambassador again and that’s always worked out for us in the past! But because we didn’t consider the very real possibility that the Cavaliers would and inevitably did drop out of that top three, we are left having days of “The Lakers got No.4??” “David Griffin and the Pellies get Zion??” “This is only a three-person draft and we tanked for nothing!!” nihilist blog posts from local sites that had undoubtedly had “Mount Zion” and “Ja Rules” t-shirt designs already prepped in the mixer. Expectations tanked the tank job and ruined the lottery when in reality we still have a top-five pick and a chance to shape how the franchise is going. The potential picks of De’Andre Hunter or Cam Reddish or Jarrett Culver are picks that have the opportunity to produce great results and help keep a franchise and fanbase afloat.
When playing the expectations game, you have to consider how horribly bad expectations have ruined what should have been a happy Indians season. World Series aspirations aside, with the way the offseason unfolded, the expectations of Tribe baseball were at bargain-basement lows. Never before has a team with two MVP candidates, a rotation full of Cy Young hopefuls and a mixture of exciting youth and feel good returns of veterans gone or hospitalized felt like nothing good could happen. When the season started and Francisco Lindor was on the injured list,3 Mike Clevinger joined him soon after, Corey Kluber looked cooked before a screamer back to the mound broke his arm, Jake Bauers couldn’t make us forget Yandy Diaz…fans were even more upset. But when you consider that this is the best April record of any of manager Terry Francona’s Indians tenure, Jose Ramirez seems to be turning it around, the bullpen has been surprisingly sturdy—there are reasons for hope. Expecting the worst and getting it only makes it more awful when it does happen.
Then there was the Thrones. Years of waiting for the final conclusion to the epic story of Jon Snow,4 Daenerys Targaryen, The Night King, Arya and Sansa Stark and the 37 other major/minor characters I can’t fit all in here led us all to these last six episodes with giddy excitement. Never before do I remember seeing as much cultural penetration5 as I saw with the lead up to Game of Thrones season eight return. Oreos, phone chargers, $400 gaming chairs with the sigils of House Stark, Lannister or Targaryen on them. If you hadn’t caught up or heard about the show in some way shape or form it was due to the personal choice of being a douche. “I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones” quickly became the “I’m vegan” and “I do CrossFit” of annoying character bits that people think we all want to hear. But I’ve gotten off topic.
Expectations of a satisfying ending to the story that has captivated millions of people were met with more fast travel, cockamamie plans that ended as poorly as could possibly be, unexpected killers of famed big bads, somehow fewer deaths than anticipated,6 writing of characters and storylines that undermine years of development and ruined experiences of not only fans but seemingly the actors that played them as well. While it could be easy to say we hoped for better, after Season 7’s deficiencies, it should have been fairly obvious that the writers were left scrambling as they tried to end a story that to this point has not had an end due to George R R Martin’s inability to finish The Winds of Winter. Walking the tightrope of plotlines without the safety net of an already-established story proved to be too much for Benioff and Weiss, the showrunners. Expecting more from a show that was proven to lack the inability to land its characters into fitting ends was an error that the majority of us are guilty of.
So what are we supposed to do, not have expectations? It’s hard to say. I’m sure all of us can think of movies or TV shows or hundreds of other situations and events and restaurants that fell flat due to heightened expectations built up by others. “OMG you’ll love XYZ show, it has the funniest storylines” almost certainly means you’ll find maybe a single episode humorous. “Seriously, the action scenes were the best I’ve ever seen” except they were all in the trailer we all watched 13 times. “You have to try the fish tacos at Such and Such, so good” normally ends up with a bland meal that cost waaaay too much. Expectations have a tendency to ruin life for us but only if we let them. So try to look on the bright side of things for once, even if it means thinking about the worst things.
Rant of the Week!
I don’t have much to rant about this week, because as of Tuesday’s site re-design, I’ve officially been named associate editor here at WFNY. It’s a job I’ve been doing for months now, but seeing my name in the footer is a feeling I didn’t expect to mean so much. Thank you all for your continued viewing and reading, it’s great to be a part of this family.