There is an ongoing debate about whether or not a fan can say “we” when referring to their sports team of choice. Some people say you can’t say “we” because they aren’t on the team. I think that you can say “we” as long as you’re emotionally invested in your team.
I grew up as a San Francisco Giants fan. My parents are Giants fans, like my grandparents before them, practically my whole family are Giants Fans. I remember when the Giants won the World Series in 2010, my sister and I went to the victory parade, and my aunt thanked us for representing our family.
That’s what the San Francisco Giants mean to my family. They are a part of our identity. That allows me to say “we”. I’m entitled to it. They are a huge part of my life. We won the World Series three times in five years, and you can’t take that away from us.
Saying “we” about your team is totally acceptable as long as you don’t switch teams when yours doesn’t make the playoffs. We all know bandwagon fans that only support the Patriots (and once upon a time, the Yankees) because they have a lot of rings. Win or lose, your team is your team. When they win, you feel good. You’re sad when they lose. You get nostalgic when you watch old highlights or reminisce about where you were watching when the clinched the championship (unless you’re a Mariners fan).
On a side note: I think you can only have one team per sport or league. That’s a fair compromise. You can’t say “we” about everyone.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon as soon as they started winning World Series titles. I was born a Giants fan and I have embarrassing childhood photos to prove it:
I like sports but the Giants are my team. They take priority over everyone else. I’d rather watch a Giants game on TV than sit in the first row of a Warrior’s game. Being a fan of a baseball team is a huge commitment, especially if they are contenders for a championship. It means a month of spring training, six months of games, and (hopefully) a month of postseason play. It’s six or seven nights a week of watching or following games. There are highs and lows, a diverse cast of characters, and lots of magical moments that make it better than any reality show.
So it leaves me with a hollow feeling when the season ends. Especially when the season ends as cruelly and abruptly as the Giants’s historic ninth inning meltdown of Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs. I was in AT&T Park. I got to see the life sucked out of the stadium and the Cubs celebrate on our mound. They got to advance. We had to go home. The season ended. It was over. It’s disappointing yet kind of a relief. I can relax now. Off-season for the Giants is also off-season for me.
Yet another thing that I love about baseball is the fan interaction. You need to pay attention when you’re at the ballpark. You have to dodge the occasional broken bat. You get foul balls and home runs flying into the seats and stands. And you can make it on SportsCenter if you make a nice catch. A fan making a great play is always entertaining to watch. There are so many memorable fan catches. There’s the guy who drops his daughter to catch a foul ball. There’s the guy that snags a ball in his beer cup and celebrates by chugging it. There’s the happy dad who gets a foul, gives it to his kid, and watches in disbelief as the kid throws the souvenir back to the field. There’s the plucky old guy who gets a home run ball for the first time and offers it to a youngster nearby instead of keeping it. You’re not likely to catch a game ball, but it’s always a possibility. Be prepared and be ready to release your inner athlete at a moment’s notice.
Fans who leave early aren’t really fans. You should never give up on your team. You should support them until the bitter end. Especially with baseball because it isn’t over until you get the final out. Besides, you’ll never experience the thrill of a walk-off win or an amazing comeback in overtime if you leave early. I don’t even understand why you would want to leave early. Tickets are expensive these days. You should see the complete game and get your money’s worth. Sure, you might want to beat traffic but there will still be traffic. Leaving early won’t help you any. In fact you should linger and stay longer, maybe kill some time at a restaurant or bar and let the roads thin out a bit. Take some time to reflect on the game you just saw with some friends and analyze the key plays and turn of events that affected the outcome. You don’t want to show up late and leave early like a Dodgers fan. People respect the Dodgers, but nobody respects Dodgers fans. Stay for the whole game. Don’t leave early.
A parade is a when a town or city shuts down a few blocks so that important people can wave to non-important people. A sports parade is when a team wins the championship game and all the fans can come out and cheer for their team one more time before the next season starts. A sports parade is a way of giving back to the fans. Professional sports don’t work without fans. The winning team gets a trophy. All the players, coaches, owners, and various staff members get a ring. The fans just get a parade. It’s kind of bullshit. But it’s still fun. It’s one last chance to revel in the ultimate victory. I’ve been to two sports parades in my life, both for the San Francisco Giants. I went in 2010 and in 2012, and I’m planning to go again in 2014. Normal parades are for kids and families. They aren’t fun and they aren’t exciting once you reach a certain age. But sports parades are fun for all ages, so long as you’re invested in the team that it’s for. Sports bring together people from all walks of life. And sports parades cram all those people together on a few city streets so you can see how much impact a team has on the region. There’s a sense of community, of camaraderie that only sports can provide.
Steve Bartman is perhaps the most well known Chicago Cubs fan in history, and for all the wrong reasons. He’s the guy who interfered with a foul ball during the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, potentially costing the Chicago Cubs their first chance to get to the World Series in a million years. Even non-baseball fans remember this play. The Cubs were up 3-0 in the 8th and 5 outs away from the World Series when Marlin’s batter Luis Castillo hit a ball down the 3rd baseline and several fans made an attempt to catch it. Steve Bartman was one of those fans, and he was the unfortunate one who managed to deflect it. Cubs outfield Moises Alou wasn’t able to catch the ball and he blamed poor Steve. And then the other Cubs players blamed poor Steve. And then the Cubs announcers and all the Cubs fans in the stands started to blame poor Steve. And then all the other Cubs fans started to blame poor Steve. And poor Steve received death threats and had to be placed under police protection, and he is still hated today. All because of something that was purely instinctual. There were half a dozen other fans who could have been the one to touch the ball. We could all be hating Susie Nonfan just as easily. It just wasn’t Steve Bartman’s day. Steve, if you’re reading this, I feel sorry for you and I’d love to buy you a beer sometime. You’re lucky I’m a Giants fan.
Critically Rated at 9/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young
I went to AT&T Park a few weeks ago to watch the San Francisco Giants take on the San Diego Padres. I went to the game with a friend from work. He wore his Padres cap, while I rocked my Giants sweatshirt. We grabbed a few drinks before the game and raised our glasses to a good game. Then we went into the stadium and found our seats. We were talking and joking and having a good time. But then the game started and the atmosphere changed. Suddenly we became rivals. We were still making small talk, but most of our conversations involved shit-talking and subtle insults about the other team. Watching a game with a rival fan is an interesting experience. You’re watching the exact same game, but you’re seeing two different things. My heroes are his villains and vice versa. I’m cheering while he’s silent. He’s clapping while I’m shaking my head in disbelief. But you can also find out more about the other team. He knows more about his team then you do. And you can also tell him facts about your team. You get a look at the bigger picture. The major problem with watching a game with a rival fan is that somebody is going to lose and that can make for an awkward car ride home. So if your team wins, be a good sport and try not to gloat. And if your team loses, be a good sport and try not to mope.
You’re not a real fan of a team until you get a jersey. Picking a jersey is like getting a new tattoo. It’s a commitment and you have to be sure you’re making the right choice. Which team are you supporting? Which player represents you? Are you going to wear the number of current athlete or a retired great? Home jersey or away? Limited-edition commemorative jersey or a standard issue one? You can have multiple jerseys, but you always remember your first one and you always have a favorite. I love going to games and seeing my fellow fans decked out in familiar names and numbers. I see the little kids rocking the current roster and I see the old folks wearing the names of legends, the heroes of their childhood. Something about rocking a jersey makes you feel like you’re apart of the team. After all, you’re wearing the same uniform. Rocking a jersey makes the game more real, whether you’re in the stands or watching at home.
The baseball season is long. 162 games from April to September and it’s even longer with the preseason and postseason. So if you suddenly declare your passion for the Giants in the middle of October, most people will assume you are full of shit. Because you are. Fans are supposed to be loyal to a team. Look at Cubs fans. They follow a team that has been cursed to lose forever. It doesn’t matter if your team is good or bad. They are your team. You cherish the wins and great plays and you grumble about losses and stupid errors. You enjoy the cast of characters that take the field; you hear their stories and feel like you know them. They are your team, they represent you, and you represent them.
It’s exciting to get to the postseason. Teams compete to win and getting to the postseason is a huge accomplishment. But then the bandwagon fans see the excitement and try to get in on the fun. Bandwagon fans are parasites that smell the glory of a World Series and latch on to loyal fans. They rely on camouflage to blend in. It might be hard to distinguish a loyal fan from a bandwagon fan at a glance. Both will be wearing team colors and cheering loudly. But the bandwagon fan has a brand new hat and the receipt for it in his pocket. The real fan’s hat is slightly faded from the many seasons that he’s worn it. A real fan starts cheering when something good happens. A bandwagon fan starts cheering when everyone else starts cheering, usually with a slight delay and without knowing why.
Baseball is the best sport ever. Hands down. There is no debate. Baseball is America’s pastime for a reason. It is timeless. It means something. The love and passion that you have for your team is something that you can share with family, with friends, with complete strangers. If you’re in a strange new place and you see someone wearing your team’s hat, you have something to talk about. If you’re in a strange new place and you see someone wearing your rival team’s hat, you have something to talk about.
Baseball is an easy game to comprehend, but it takes a lifetime to master. People who have never seen baseball in person know that three strikes and you’re out at the old ball game. There is beauty in its simplicity. You can be a casual viewer and just be aware of the situation and what’s at stake. And you can also be a diehard fanatic and follow every single pitch, every play. How can such a simple game get so complex?
Baseball is all scenarios and statistics. It’s all about who is pitching and who is at the plate and who is on base and how many outs there are. Every single detail is accounted for and every single player is rated. This gives baseball a continuous feel. You know that Ty Cobb could play today. You know that Ichiro Suzuki could play back then. When you cheer for a team you can celebrate the accomplishments of the current roster and you also honor the past. I am a Giants fan, born in 1985. I never saw Willie Mays play, but I am proud that he was on my team. I can claim him as my own. You can’t do that with basketball, or football, or soccer. A baseball team has a legacy, a history, and if you are a fan of a team you celebrate the past, the future, the present.
Football has lost its way. You used to cheer for a team. Now everyone plays Fantasy Football and you cheer for individual players. You hope the Saints will lose but that Brees has a good game. That’s not what competition is. It’s about having pride for the team that represents you. It’s about each player having their moment to shine, but it’s the team that gets the win, not the individual.
The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. And they still have some of the most loyal fans in professional sports. You love your team, win or lose. And if they lose and you still root for them, each victory means more. That MLB: The Show commercial where the Cubs win the Series tugs at the heartstrings of every fan that knows what it’s like to lose. With the start of each new season, you hope that this is the year.
Like I said, I’m a Giants fan. I was brought up being a Giants fan. I heard stories of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal from my grandma. I grew up watching Barry Bonds (steroids or not, he was still the best player of that era). I experienced the joy of making it to the World Series and felt the despair of losing in spectacular fashion in 2002. And somehow we made it back and won in 2010. I went to the parade to celebrate. I felt that I helped contribute to the win just by watching and believing and hoping. My aunt thanked me for going to the parade and representing our family. It meant something to them that I was even there participating. I thought about all the Giants games that my grandma watched and how she never got to experience the thrill of a championship in her city. The game is more than a game; it’s a link between generations. A win for the Giants is a win for all the Giants fans across the ages.
Baseball has no time limit. It can go on forever, and sometimes it seems like it does. And it’s never over until you make the final out. Take the 2011 World Series for example. The Texas Rangers were a strike away from winning it all. And the Cardinals came back to tie it. And then the Rangers were a strike away from winning it all again. I remember commenting to my friend, “How many times are the Rangers going to have to win this game?”… And then the Cardinals came back again and won the game. And won again the next night. And they won the series even though logic and common sense said they should have lost.
The defense has the ball. That is different from most other sports. It adds drama, it adds tension. It’s a game of skill. The best players only hit the ball slightly more than three out of ten times. If you fail 70% of the time you are still considered good.
Baseball is a marathon not a sprint. The regular season lasts 162 games over 6 months. More games mean less tension. Each game is still important, but it’s not a matter of life or death. So you’ll see less fighting on the field and in the stands. You’ll still see rivalries and trash talking and the occasional fights, but you don’t see riots and brawls like with soccer. This helps to make it more of a family game. You go with your parents and grandparents when you’re young, and you go with your kids and grandkids when you’re old. And you talk about who’s on first, and what’s on second, and you laugh and joke and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.
Baseball is a great game. It is casual and complex and fun and frustrating. Sometimes it is all you have to talk about, all you have to live for. It’s more than a game. It’s a way of life. At least for 6 months out of the year.