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Sunday, April 02, 2006


The Kind of Fan I Am

Tonight is it. Baseball season starts. I am, in my own way, very excited. I say "in my own way" because I want to be very careful here. I don't want to give the wrong sort of impression.

When I mention that I love baseball, I get a couple of different reactions. I get one type of reaction from people who hate the sport (and there are many of them out there). Some of these people feel that baseball is the least interesting of the major American team sports. They think it moves too slow and they completely fail to see the appeal. Other people just have disdain for all sports and assume that anyone who enjoys them is a moron upon whom they need not waste their time. I don't really give a shit what these people think (except for my wife, who falls into the "don't see the appeal" crowd and she's stuck with me anyway) and don't feel the need to justify my enjoyment of the game with some kind of long-winded George Wills-ian lecture on the American spirit and blah blah fucking blah.

The other reaction I get, and the one that's more troubling for me, is from people who also love the game, but love it in a different way than I do. These people will automatically assume that you have the same level of expertise as them and start discussing trades made eighteen years ago or the reason that the Brewers' slugging percentage is going to keep them from contention. These folks--stat-heads, I guess, would be as good a term for them as any other--are great, and a lot of fun to watch games with, because they're just full of quasi-useful trivia. But they're enjoying things on a whole different level than me.

Which is why I feel the need to make this disclaimer: I am a fairly casual fan. I love to watch the game. I would rather go to a baseball game than any other live sporting event. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are listening to ballgames on the radio while I rode someplace with my dad in his truck. I understand the game well enough to never be confused by what's going on. But.

I am not a stat-head. I check the paper daily during the season to see where everyone is in the standings. I check to see if anyone from my team (Cleveland) is doing particularly well in any of the major stat categories. But that's about it. I do not commit to memory the ERA of every pitcher in the American League. I do not know from one week to the next exactly which player is leading in runs batted in. (And by the way, anyone who says RBIs as a plural should be shot. It's "runs", people. Plurality is built right in, just like WMD.) I do not follow my team in the off season. I try, but it's annoying to go to the Indians page on and see the same thing for weeks and weeks, so I eventually just forget. If I were a better fan, I'd be on top of all this. But I'm not. I'm lazy and would rather use my valuable internet time discussing the Golden Age Green Lantern's role in the post-Infinite Crisis DC Universe.

This is why I was taken so completely aback when I picked up the Sports Illustrated Baseball preview this week (the only issue I buy all year) and saw that Coco Crisp had been traded. I loved watching him play last year. Why, I thought, did they get rid of him? Yes, I see that they got a great young third base prospect out of it and I see that his replacement in left field has a .304 average, but are either of them as interestingly named? No. No, they're not. I liked Coco and he should have stayed.

I wish I could be more like my dad in this department. Any time Cleveland trades away a marquee player (or even just a sandwich board player) my dad automatically shifts into "We're Better Off Without Him, Anyway, So Fuck It" mode. When the big guns are traded, they're dead to him. Kenny Lofton? He was old. Manny Ramirez? He was a whiny prima donna. Omar Vizqel? Well, no, I don't think even my dad could justify shitcanning Omar. *sigh* This is another reason why I'm such a crappy fan. I get attached to players. I think the game would be better if it were possible for someone to spend his entire career in one place.

But it's a business. It's driven by numbers. Which is why stat-heads are just truer, purer fans than someone like me. And yet, I'll be watching tonight as Cleveland takes on the World Champion Chicago White Sox. And I'll be broken-hearted that Big Jim Thome will be their designated hitter. Why'd you have to go, Jim? Why? Oh, that's right. Because this is a business and not a family. Well you know what? All of you people who think about the game with your heads instead of your hearts can just go to hell! 'Cause I, for one, care. I care. Just not enough to be completely informed so that I don't come across as a half-assed dipshit in casual conversations.

"World Champion Chicago White Sox."

Don't that sound grand!?
Not as nice as "World Series MVP C.C. Sabathia".
I like to play the sport more than I like to watch it.
Sorry about CC's muscle pull and the whole rain thing last night, HS. I was rootin' for the tribe, but only until tomorrow night when the Twins open in Toronto.
Yeah, I was bummed about Sabathia and then I was jazzed about the excellent 3-run comeback and then I was bummed about the rain. A mixed night, all in all.
I'm also a Cleveland Indians fan who doesn't have time to be a fanatic. (I have had the same Chief Wahoo keychain for 12 years.) I always thought that I would die before the Indians made it to the World Series and then I almost died when they lost it in 1997's Game 7. Hopefully they can win it before I die, (and I hope to experience Browns and Cavs championships as well). At least the Buckeyes won it all in football for me to watch.

As for the fact that few people like baseball anymore, I think it's due to our country's decreasing attention spans.

Go Tribe!
What is baseball? Nobody knows it in Germany. Okay, except me. I'm the one and only but with only a slight notion. Go, Yankees!
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