Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fandom (Part 2)

I wrote about fandom before. And while all that remains true, that was an obviously tongue in cheek take on it, with some jabs at alternate fan bases.

Right now, Imma put on my serious face.

When Chuck and I went to the Sharks/Caps game, we were cheering for the Caps, opposing fans in the Sharks' barn (fancy hockey lingo!). At one point, when Chuck cheered loudly, the lady in front of us turned around and asked in all sincerity to Chuck, "Do you ever get in fights?" This was at first hysterical. You'd have to know Chuck. He'd go out of his way to avoid conflict before ever engaging.

But instead of just laughing, Chuck fired back with one of those off the cuff remarks that make Chuck brilliant: "Um. No. They get paid a lot of money to go out there and play. I'm not going to fight in the stands on their behalf." It was brilliant in its simplicity. Basically: Yes, I like the team, a lot. No, I'm not going to engage in violence for something that is settled violently on the ice, by guys paid 10x what I make to do so. My stake in the game is enjoyment.

He articulated my own sentiment pretty well. I'll jaw with a fellow fan, all through the offseason even, and then during a game. It will likely be incredibly good natured. "Nice pitcher! Lasorda asleep somewhere?" But when the game ends, I'm going to turn around and, regardless of the outcome to MY team, going to tell them "Good game!" Because it likely was. I got what I paid for, an evening of entertainment and fun. Now I'm going to walk away and look forward to doing it again. (And if I'm in the heaven that is Baton Rouge, continue drinking whiskey.)

All this has become an issue again because of what happened to Giants fan Bryan Stow when he went to opening day at Dodger Stadium. You can read about it, and are likely familiar with it, all over the internet. To sum up: He got beaten on his way out of the park and likely suffered serious brain damage because he was wearing Giants gear in L.A.

Because of that, what it means to be a fan, and what this tense rivalry means has been at the forefront of a lot of discussions. A week after the incident, the Dodgers are up here in San Francisco playing the Giants. The Giants dedicated last nights game to Bryan and before the game, both teams came out on to the field, together. Then Jeremy Affeldt said a few words about what the rivalry means, saying that as soon as the game ends, the rivalry ends, they walk off the field and are friends again. Watch it here. It's pretty damn moving.

He also did a radio interview earlier in the day where he pointed out what Chuck said: he gets paid a lot of money to go out there and battle everyday, this is how he feeds his family. He added that every win is important to them. While they appreciate the Dodgers/Giants rivalry, they want to win every last game. And no fan, anywhere, ever should be injured because of a rooting interest.

I've definitely seen Dodgers fans act like idiots in SF. I'm not saying it's exclusively them and that there aren't jerky Giants fans too (I had run ins with a few of our own jerky fans last year and it's why I hesitate to go to the ballpark this year). Last season I witnessed a 16 year old girl, acting older than that, use words against a guy that no lady should ever say for no real reason. I watched Dodgers and Giants fans jaw at each other outside Momo's after a game, posturing for a fight, guys on the main patio at Momo's egging it on while I told them to go back to the suburbs and yelled at the fans on the street to knock it the eff off. IT'S A GAME! That you aren't playing! How can your hatred run that deep? You have to let it go. You look at the scoreboard, win or lose, and know you get to do it again soon. Calm down, everybody!

I realize that anyone reading this, anyone I would ever associate with, is gonna don all the team colors they want but be more interested in the particularities of the athletics on the field than in whooping an opposing fan. That's how it should universally be. It boggles the mind that it can't be more civil. So, just, be on your best behavior, do it right, so that others may follow by example.

On a lighter note, early season thoughts...on facial hair:

  1. I'm sorta digging Barry Zito's mustache. It makes him hotter. If not a better pitcher.
  2. Sergio Romo's current facial hair configuration reminds me of the time Ted Mosby was cutting his post Robin break-up beard and kept coming out of the bathroom in different states of shaving. When he got to the look Romo is currently rocking, Lilly called him "Old timey Professor Ted". Old timey professor Romo?
  3. Brian Wilson's face mane has gotten out of control. I'd like to see it gone. But I'm pondering the sheer economics of it. He has upped his marketability about a thousand percent with it, which means endorsement deals, and that translates to cold hard cash. So how much, out of curiosity, is that beard worth? And is it written in endorsement deal contracts that he can't, or under only very specific circumstances, shave it? It's gotta be a hassle at this point. Not just upkeep, which I imagine is a pain, but instant recognizability. He can't walk around the Marina undetected.

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