The Morning After, Part 4: Oregon State

The only world I know is the world I cling to

It's a world I'd want to save,

Optimist or pessimist, what am I supposed to be?

               - Optimist or Pessimist, Nevermore, 1996

Well, we beat Oregon State.  Yay.  I'm happy.  Sort of, I guess.

Bruins Nation is a bit bipolar today, and I'm afraid I might be, too.

Fox's lyrics thread had me thinking this week.  In this case, it's a good thing, because I love music.  More than anything else, music is my inspiration, my solace, my escape, my joy, my narrative.  So this song came to mind more than a few times while watching our Bruins in Corvallis yesterday.  You can click on the link above to hear it.  It's awesome, especially if you like progressive metal, which you would if you are any kind of cool.  \m/

Anyway, back on topic.  While following the first half and second half and post game threads, there appeared to be two distinct schools of thought on yesterday's game.  There are many who are satisfied to get a Pac-12 win on the road.  Those wins are always hard to come by, and especially for our team and for Rick Neuheisel, so we should be happy to have one at all.  Cal and Arizona and Utah would love to have one.  And no one win counts for more than another.  The Pac-12 is just going to count total wins at the end of the year, and the team from the North with the most wins will play the team from the South with the most wins, and the winner of that game gets the Pac-12 title.  Unless that team from the South is *$c, in which case they won't play for anything, daaaaaaahahahahahaha.

On the other hand, there are many who just can't get excited with how we struggled against a pretty bad team, especially in the second half.  When we were up 21-3 and it looked like our team was on the verge of blowing out the Beavers, we let off the gas and let the Beavers off the deck.  And like week 2, we started the 4th quarter in a very tight game with a team that, on paper, we shouldn't have been in any type of game with at all.  For many, the quality of the win matters because it is indicative of the true character of the team and the program, and right now, that measure is almost more important than the W or the L from this weekend's game.

I guess it depends on how you look at it.  Are you a passion bucket half-full type, or a passion bucket half-empty?

I work in health care, and our industry is overflowing with rules and oversight and regulations and benchmarks, nearly all of which are made by people in cubicles who have spent exactly zero hours working in a clinical setting and providing any form of patient care.  Filling out forms is more important than spending time with families.  Adhering to to predetermined guidelines outweighs clinical judgement or following the latest scientific evidence.  Marketing and productivity trump quality of care. CEO's and CFO's outrank MD's and RN's and PA's, and patients.

I see two schools of thought on the management of health care.  And I debate this with co-workers all the time.

There are those who that don't mind the pains and annoyances of the piles of regulations and endless hoops.  They chirp that things are really pretty good and that our job is just fine.  And at the very least, we should always be grateful that we have a job at all.  These people never complain or make waves or strive to improve our setting.  These people are always positive, regardless of the issue.  These people call themselves optimists. 

The "optimists" will look at yesterday's game and celebrate a win.  They will feel good that we saw more of our young players on the field.  They can point to us playing perhaps our smartest game, with very few penalties and zero turnovers.  They can see character in winning a game on the road.  They will laud a 100 yard rusher and a good manager of the game at QB.

On the other hand, I am tortured by the annoyances and obstacles in my job and I just can't help myself.  I find it impossible to shut up.  I rail (professionally, usually) against things that deter us from doing what we are ultimately tasked to do, which is provide care to patients.  I am constantly suggesting better ways to do things, or suggesting the benefit of not doing things the way we are required.  I can certainly be negative at times. So I get called a pessimist.

As a "pessimist", I will note we squeaked by a bad team that besides losing to us also lost to Sacramento State, and we should have won much more convincingly.  I will ask why our QB threw only 11 times against the worst pass defense in the Pac-12 with 3 inexperienced DB's, and say we should have opened up the passing game.  I will note we still saw a dumb personal foul, and some sloppy tackling, and an inability to get plays in, and horribly conservative play calling in the third quarter - after the play calling in the first half got us 21 points and a big lead, and say we can play with a lot more maturity and fundamentals and proficiency and aggressiveness.  I will point out that our TE had zero passes thrown to him and say we should get our weapons more involved.  I will see that the OSU freshman QB in his first ever start racked up almost 300 yds passing and say that we have to pressure the QB and cover tighter in the secondary.  I know that our special teams have to be better.  I know that our defense still needs to tackle better.  I will say that my eye is on the long term health of this program, and that our performance yesterday was good enough against OSU, but it won't be good enough against Stanford or Arizona or Utah or ASU or *$c, and it'll be close against Colorado or WSU, and that should never be an acceptable position for U.C.L.A. football.

I think the performance yesterday left an awful lot to be desired.  I think our team can be so much better than what we are.  I think our team can play with Stanford.  I think our team can do great things.

You see, in truth, the labels are backward.  I am not the pessimist.  I am the optimist.   I am not just complaining.  I am looking for something more than second best or just good enough.  I am not ungrateful.  I am striving for Coach's definition of success.

So I'll pat our guys on the head for the good things they did yesterday, and then I'll look at all the areas where we fell short, and there a lot of them, and identify our failings and get to work on fixing them.  Because I am an optimist.  And I know that this team can do better.  This team can play smarter.  They can pass better.  They can run better.  They can block better.  They can tackle better. They can pass rush better.  They can cover better.  They can kick better.  They can coach and scheme and prepare and inspire better.

I'll never believe that yesterday is the best this team is capable of.  I'll never believe we have no shot of beating Stanford next week.  I'll never believe this team can't be a winner.  That's a pessimist's view.  That's a loser's view.

The optimist understands why the world's gone down the drain.

The pessimist never bends, constricting thoughts in vain.

From the pessimist's point of view, there's nothing we can do.

As I paint this picture gray and taste the pain

I'll play the optimist again.

Go Bruins!

p.s.  I won't be able to see next week's game live.  I'll be seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, Journey.

Don't stop believing.  Hold on to that feeling!

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