Babeball Fandom 101
To all those who’ve been rallying around the Rockies’ mythical performance, I have to hand it to you. Maybe even give you a pat on the head. Nice job. Really. You’re cute.
You see, I’m a Red Sox fan. Not even a top-echelon fanatic; a minor devotee in the cult of Yawkey Way. But that still means I know what it means to love – truly love -- a baseball team, and, honestly, Denver has a long way to go.
Here’s some context. At the public school I attended in a suburban Boston town, classes would be halted every spring on Opening Day so the entirety of “Casey at the Bat” could be read over the intercom. In middle school, we all lived in terror of the disciplinary zeal of the vice principal, since he moonlighted as Fenway Park’s head of security. After cracking the heads of one too many overzealous Sox fans, he’d become a little trigger happy. After graduating, I never had to attend reunions to see my former high school classmates. I just had to buy bleachers tickets, since many of them got jobs within the Red Sox organization. And when I was a poor postgrad living in Boston, my buddies and I would take drunken pilgrimages to the dorms at Boston College, to stand in the wiffleball field a bunch of students had designed to perfectly mimic Fenway Park.
When my wife went into labor with our son a few months ago, I was a little distracted for the first hour or so. I was busy designing a T-shirt for my dad that read, “My grandson is a Red Sox fan.” Back east, my relatives had the same idea. Within a week of his birth, my son had received three Red Sox T-shirts, one pair of Red Sox pajamas, two Red Sox baby books, a pair of Red Sox sox, a hand-knitted Red Sox sweater, and an infant-sized baseball cap with the Sox logo. My wife’s aunt sent him an Orioles visor. She won’t be getting a Christmas card this year.
And then there’s this clip. I know this family; I went to school with their son. You might call this movie strange, even sick. I call it home.
I’m not criticizing you, Denver. I’m just saying loving a baseball team isn’t a hobby; it’s a way of life. If you want to consider yourselves true fans, be ready to settle in for the long haul. Here’s a few tips:
-Find a rivalry. No baseball team – or any sports team, for that matter – is complete without an arch nemesis. A Goliath for David. A Darth Vader for Luke Skywalker. A Dick Cheney for, well, everybody with a soul. You need to find a team so despicable that your children won’t want to include their team’s colors on their drawings of rainbows. A team with players so loathsome you’ll have no problem wearing T-shirts describing their imagined sexual habits to a wedding. A church wedding. And most importantly, it has to be a team whose fans are so obnoxious everyone else would rather hate them than you. Case in point: us Red Sox fans may be assholes, but at least we aren’t Yankees fans.
-Build a nation. They don’t call it “Red Sox Nation” for nothing. Our legions are spread throughout the world, converted during missionary expeditions long ago (if natives didn’t agree to root for the Sox, we killed them). You should aim for the same. You want fans in the Bahamas who would rather squint at the 20-year-old black-and-white TV above the hotel bar than enjoy the blue expanse of the Caribbean. You should aspire to groups of expats on the nation’s coasts who gather together at bars under idiotic names like “Holliday’s Helpers” and “Blake Street Bombers” and sing “Rocky Mountain High” and chant “TUUULOOO!” until a patron punches one of them in the face. You need far-flung aficionados who don’t have access to televised games resorting to following online game descriptions on their computers, and becoming so enraged by the psychotically sluggish updates (“Pitch 1… strike. Pitch 2… strike. Pitch 3… hit into play… loading… loading…”) they tear their eyes out with forks. You want all of this, I assure you. Spread the love.
-Lose this postseason. And the next one, and the one after that. True baseball fandom must be forged through dashed hopes and heartbreak, frustration and betrayal. Take it from someone who knows. Don’t win a World Series anytime soon. Let the fruitless decades stretch on. Eventually, maybe 80 years down the road, the Rockies can win. Of course, you won’t be around to see it. You’ll be dead in your grave, capped by a tombstone that reads, “A True Rockies fan.”
And you know what? It will finally be true. – Joel Warner