Strange Glove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Cheer For Prince Fielder

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. 



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. 


Divided Alliances

Yankees in Toronto, 2010. My one and only live MLB game.

Two and a half years ago I was reminded of a love that had sat neglected for over a decade and a half. I got into baseball during the Baseball Card Market Crash of the late 80s / early 90s. I genuinely loved watching the game, and comparing the stats on the back of my dozens of cards with the ones for the current season. And just as suddenly as I became interested, I lost interest. Turning from 14 to 15 changed my interests from baseball and video games to angsty talk about girls, angsty music and angsty angst. 

My interest was renewed by the Twitter banter of John Gruber and Mike Monteiro. Their shit-talking rivalry is incomparable. Gruber (Yankees), and Monteiro (Phillies) tore each other apart during the games, and I couldn't help but watch live. Both are extremely informed baseball fans, as demonstrated on the sports blog they both contribute to, American McCarver, And both have the sharp, rude Philly wit that the city is famous for. The combination was too compelling not to watch. 

During these games I developed an affinity for both teams. It was the most baseball I'd watched in 15 years and I felt like these were the men that were helping me enjoy it again. But in particular I was enjoying watching the Yankees. The skill of Jeter, the almost oxymoron-like sportsmanship of someone like A-Rod who I'd only known as being an asshole from the media, the virtuoso pitching of Mariano Rivera, all huge names that baseball fans more or less ignore because they are ubiquitously discussed, I was enjoying. 

A few months ago I was riding around in a friend's car and a song came on the radio, two notes into it my friend got excited and pronounced "Have you heard this song? This song knocks my fucking DICK OFF!" and cranked it. The song was Moves Like Jagger, universally hated by young and old. I don't listen to the radio and I'd not heard it yet, so the song knocked my dick off too, and I still don't mind it. This is what happened while watching the 2009 World Series. The Yankees "knocked my fucking dick off" and now I'm stuck with this love for a team that is universally despised. So what to do? Every time I related this fact to long-time baseball fans I'd get the eye-roll. "Of course you're a Yanks fan, you're new." was the universal response.

When I was a kid I liked Nolan Ryan, but it confused me when he went from the Astros to the Rangers. Do I shift my alliance just because he moved? It was all new to me then also. Regardless, that distant enjoyment of a player isn't enough for me to latch onto the Rangers, which he owns today.

I also watched a lot of Tigers baseball when I was a kid. Growing up in Regina, our US cable channels were all from Detroit, and so the bulk of the games I watched were from there, with the odd Jays and Expos game thrown in. I like the idea of Detroit as a city, and the Tigers are a fun team to watch, but there's the looming question that overshadows my dilemma... 

What about locality? None of these teams are especially close. The only team that I could possibly call "local" is the Blue Jays, but Toronto is as distant as any other MLB city, and I bristle at the thought that just because I'm Canadian, I'm obligated to pay tribute to a distant capital. (Hunger Games reference, hollar!) considers all of Canada "in-market" for Jays games, so if they are in fact my team, I can't even watch their games since I don't have cable. 

I've got no conclusions here. Emotionally, I feel like a Yankees fan, but I dislike the idea of being dismissed as a stupid newbie. I do like the Jays, but I hate the idea that as a Canadian I'm obligated to be a Jays fan, also the blackout thing would be untenable. Tigers might be my only choice, but I haven't kept up enough with them to even know what they are like. (I suppose that's what spring training games are for.) 

If you have an opinion on the matter, please comment, I feel like a waste of a baseball fan right now and I'd appreciate some guidance. I posed the question of my aliances to Monteiro last year and I got a one word reply, "Jays". Sigh. 


My Actual Record Store Day 2012 Want List

Despite shitting on Record Store Day a couple weeks ago, there are items I'm interested in. 


And then there are the RSD UK items that I'd love, but probably will never see: 

  • BBC Radiophonic Workshop — Out Of This World /Doctor Who Sound Effects
  • Carter Tutti Void — Transverse 
  • Mouse Of Mars/Prefuse 73 — Miami/Death Barber PR 1 (Haircut Zero) 



*Of course, all this depends on how $$$ these items are. 


Minimalist Poster Design


Record Store Day 2012 Release List

Mainstream British band from the 60s — 7" box set release of songs already played to death on MOR radio, with mono b-sides. (500 pressed, 400 of which will be available on eBay in thirty minutes for four times the price)

That indie band you listened to ad nauseum six months ago, but won't admit to anyone because it's on a car commercial now — 10" with their one hit, plus three songs not good enough for b-sides. (1000 pressed)

An artist you've only vaguely heard of before today — a $12 10" that turns out to be the best thing you buy this RSD, and listen to years from now. (1000 pressed)

Your favourite band — amazing reissue of their lost album with an additional record of them singing a love-letter directly to you. (not available in whichever country you live in) (300 pressed)

Record label you've never heard of — CD sampler of songs you've never heard, and no on buys because it's not "CD store day" (unlimited quantities)

Oldies stalwart — $30 200g 10" that plays from the spindle outward, at 78 speed, lenticular vinyl, etched portrait of the artist on the b-side. A-side is a demo of a song that is played 4 times a day on oldies radio. (500 pressed)

Beloved performer that hasn't put out a decent album in 20 years — Limited deluxe version of the new album. Will still be on shelves six months from Record Store Day. (5000 pressed)

New band that the record company wants to hype — advance copy of their album with bonus 7" that will be universally be ignored. (2500 pressed)

Indie act with largish fanbase and mainstream act who's time has past — split 7" that you will listen to exactly once. (1000 pressed)

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