Underdogs stories

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View of Dodgers’ Stadium, a Saturday afternoon, near downtown Los Angeles (2015)

The victory of the Los Angeles Dodgers over the favorite Red Sox team in game number 3 of the World Series last Saturday awakened in many Baseball fans this fascination for underdogs stories. A large majority of Sports commentators across the country gave the Dodgers very little chances to win the World Series and with good reasons: in every aspect of the game, the Red Sox demonstrated clear superiority. So when game number 3 started, and with the Dodgers down by two games in the Series, commentators and experts gave the Los Angeles team even less of a chance: a sweep from the Red Sox was in order. It didn’t happen.

Underdogs stories mystify the American public. Ingrained in this culture lives this idea that no matter how bad the odds are against a cause, there are always chances -real chances- to overcome the odds and achieve the impossible. Politicians, musicians, inventors, sports players, Army generals: the fabric of this country is made up of underdog stories. Virtually every field of the American life is populated with examples of people who have defeated the most common-sensical predictions and who have surpassed all expectations. Americans cherish those stories, they venerate those heroes and they perpetuate the storytelling in books and movies. Read this NPR article if you want to explore more.

Vox populi, Dodgers ended up losing the 2018 World Series and the sports experts were right in their predictions. They usually are but not always. The general public is not too interested in expertise. They want to hear about an underdog team that worked for seven straight hours and eighteen innings in one game to defeat the most powerful team of this baseball season. The story they want to hear is this: if you work very hard and if you cultivate an iron will, you do have a chance, a real chance to succeed in this country. And that is indeed a noble American idea*

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