Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Being a Baseball Fan

Lemme 'splain something.

If you've been following Sullicom on Twitter, you'd think I hate the Tampa Bay Rays. I really don't. I think the team is talented, exciting and possibly about to accomplish the unthinkable. However, what I don't like are the suddenly-there Tampa fans. Much like I disliked the once-suddenly-there, then just-as-suddenly-gone-again Marlins fans of 1997 and 2003.

I recall watching games in mid and late September when the team was still trying to clinch a playoff spot and that excuse for a stadium was far from packed. Most nights it was far from half-packed. The "fans" still had not bought into this team. Now the place is filled, but I wonder how many of the "fans" are wearing Rays hats and shirts more than a few weeks old.

In Thursday night's wild game in which the Rays blew a 7-0 lead, right before the fold I swear I heard an announcer say something like, "The city of Tampa has waited 10 long years for this." Let me tell you what ran through this Cubs fan's mind. "Ten years? You've got to be kidding me!" Frankly, the reaction was a tad more profane.

Put it this way, I'd hardly consider you a fan if:
- your first game of the season was a playoff game
- you've never been to a game in September in years when your team had been mathematically eliminated in August
- you don't have any fan gear with "Devil Rays" (the team's name prior to this year) on it.

However, if Boston does what Boston does, and that's come back from a 3-1 deficit to crush your new-found dreams, that's your first real step into the brotherhood of fandom. No pain, no gain, you know. I'll be the first to give you a hug. Then, if you're back at the park next season, not when the Red Sox or Yankees are in town, but to root on your team against the Orioles or Royals, I'll buy you a beer and toast your card-carrying acceptance into the club.

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