The mall is not a place I frequent often, but I decided to tag along when my breakfast companions decided they wanted to go. We wandered around the place for hours. As our visit was drawing to a close I spotted a ballcap store and drifted in. Apparently I wanted to buy one. In retrospect I think walking into that store was my way of telling myself to man up and make a decision. I guess I thought (without actually thinking) that looking at the wall of MLB logos would tell me which team I wanted to invest in. It totally worked.
A large part of the appreciation of baseball, or any sport — as any sports movie will tell us, (no matter if it's good or bad) is the appeal of rooting for an underdog. This is something that I've always prided myself on appreciating any other time, but hadn't yet come to terms with in my new-found enjoyment of baseball. (As an aside, it should be noted that I do not watch or partake in any other sports with any regularity, so this is a new-found appreciation for them in general.)
The original blog post, where I wrestled with the thought of cheering for the Yankees, or one of a number of teams — caused much discussion on Twitter, and two posts embodied the conflicting sides of my thought process.
@myownbiggestfan Without villains there are no heroes.— Cam Hoff (@camhoff) April 10, 2012
Did I want to become the one that got jeered at? Did my enjoyment of the Yanks go deep enough that I could endure the heckling?
Baseball fans pride themselves in a game that hasn't changed very much since around 1895. Tradition is a key ingredient. Yet another lesson to be learned from movies. How many baseball movies reference real-life games from at least 30 years ago? Pretty much EVERY SINGLE ONE. How many times a game do announcers spout off stats from players that most of the audience never got a chance to see play? I'm not saying that other sports don't have tradition, or even that baseball is the best example of this, just that it's important.
So, I walk into the store, and I look at the wall of hats and really the choice was made for me ages ago, I was just in denial. I never was going to choose the team that was essentially baseball's polished marketing machine. Of course it was always going to be the gritty team that I had a past with, as minor as it may be. I wanted to wear a hat that people would know I chose because I chose the team, not because Jay Z wears it too. I've never been the popular kid in class, and I'm sure as hell not going to start being him now that I've finally grown into my grumpy old man demeanor, so I'm not going to suddenly think it's my thing to cheer for the most popular team.
The Tigers were the obvious choice. Their last World Series win was in 1984, during the time Tigers games would get played with regularity in my house. My step-brother is a fan. Detroit itself embodies the underdog archetype. Also, they are good enough that it's not like I chose them because I like lost causes. (While the Cubs are really cool, I don't think I could take the heartbreak, in much the same way I couldn't take Yankee heckling.) So there you have it, I went with my gut, and I feel like I'm the better for it.
But all of this isn't to say I'll suddenly stop appreciating a A-Rod/Jeter double play, it's just that if it's against the Tigers, there will be a new level of emotion in there.
Special thank you to Tony Charron for coming up with the perfect title.