By: Cee Angi
It was recently brought tomy attention that I may be committing one of the biggest faux pas insports fandom.
Of course, I’ve heardrumblings all along that perhaps my ability to maintain multipleallegiances for teams might be a little bit strange– I neverrealized that to some it was such a big deal.
When it recently came tolight on Twitter that I do, in fact, support two Major LeagueBaseball teams, you would be surprised the reactions I got.
After all, I assumed thatsupporting more than one team was probably the norm. But when someonerealized that both of the teams I support are American League teams,a discussion (or argument) ensued.
Is it possible to like morethan one team? Is it possible that those teams could play in the sameleague? What was the reasoning behind liking more than one? And whydidn’t I choose the Chicago Cubs?
I guess I should prefacethis whole conversation by admitting that while I have two teams, Ialso have other teams that when I hear their names mentioned I amflooded with memories of childhood and I feel a kindred spirit withthose teams. It adds yet another level of complexity to the conundrumto say the least.
Perhaps I am atypical andthe definition of a baseball polygamist, but before you condemn me,at least hear me out.
I will preface this entire conversation to say that at this stage of my advanced baseball fandom development, there is absolutely no team that could usurp the Boston Red Sox’ place as the team that I support without wavering. It has been this way for the past 12 seasons, through World Series victories and Aaron Boones. Through starts like Pedro Martinez and idiots like Kevin Millar, I have been there and they have been there, too.
But, I do have a complicatedhistory with being a fan of other teams, which is a product of how Iwas raised: moving frequently.
When I made the decision tomove to Washington, DC I calculated my own stats. I am in my late 20sand I have lived in 17 different cities, 25 different houses, and 10different states. And somewhat consistent with so many moves, it iseasy to invent new iterations of one’s self.
Baseball started for me asit does for most children: in the town where I was born. My parentswere born and raised in southern Ohio, so I entered into a bond withthe Cincinnati Reds from birth. Part of my childhood education frommy father involved learning the roster of the 1975 Big Red Machine,even though they won the World Series ten years before I was born.
But as a talkative smallchild who enjoyed my fathers’ attention, I’d start my own line ofquestioning similar to Abbott and Costello, and ask him who playedfirst.
And he’d respond Tony Perez,then it would spiral into naming the rest of the starting lineup. Iremember liking names like Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo. I alsothought it was silly that the catcher whose posture was so perfect itappeared he was sitting on something was named Bench. All of thisoccurred before I realized Joe Morgan would be terrible atbroadcasting.
My first games were Redsgames, in the seats in the upper level, terrified that I would falldown the extremely steep stairs at Riverfront Stadium. My dad wouldbring us Capri Suns to drink and we would stay for as many innings asyoung children are capable of sitting still. My sister would getrestless much earlier than I would, and when it was time to go, wewould listen to the game on the car ride back to our house.
But in 1992, I left BarryLarkin behind for the Atlanta Braves. To be fair, I could not reallyhelp it. My dad started a new job in Georgia and it was much easierto see a Braves game on television than it was to keep up with theReds back in Ohio.
On the weekends, I wouldplay catch with my father and he would help me with my catchingskills while he showed me his fastball. In the evenings, we wouldwatch the Braves games together, and I learned their roster much inthe same way I learned the Reds. My favorite was Chipper Jones, and Iliked Fred McGriff solely for his nickname: The Crime Dog.
During the 1995 WorldSeries, I would fall asleep every night in my Chipper Jones T-shirtand a Braves hat, believing that it would bring good luck to theteam…and history shows that I must have done something correct.
But the following season, wehad relocated to Milwaukee, leaving the Braves behind. While it waseasier to keep up with their Braves because of their nationwidebroadcasts on TBS, admittedly when we moved, I stopped watchingbaseball regularly. There were a multitude of reasons, most of thempersonal. I still loved to go see a game, but I was more focused onmy being an awkward child transitioning into an even more awkwardteenager who spent a lot of time playing, not watching, sports.
When I returned to baseballa few years later, Pedro Martinez caught my eye. And ratherinstantly, I became a Boston Red Sox fan. Then I learned that JasonVaritek and Nomar Garciaparra were players I had a connection withbecause of my Georgia past, and I liked the team even more. Andthough I picked up the Red Sox at a time when the team wasn’t exactlyimpressive (a 85-77 finish to the season), it did not really matter.
And the years that followed,I transitioned into a full-on Red Sox fan, with pilgrimages toFenway, road games, and spring training. While some shake their headat the fact that I was not born in New England, I do not have a 100year history with the team, nor do I have a wicked cool accent,there’s nothing that can really change my connection with the team. Iconsider it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but I alsoconsider my decision to abandon two teams of my childhood a productof moving around frequently, and the lack of MLB.tv at the time.
But the hardest part ofbeing a Red Sox fan and not living in Boston for me is my desire towatch live baseball: it makes life a bit more complicated.
When I lived in Louisville,it was not an issue. Their minor league team, the Bats, was stackedfull of talent like Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto, and they were funto watch. But when I moved to Chicago, I felt inclined to adopt alocal team.
It was never my intent toadopt one of the two local teams as a replacement for the Red Sox.But, I did set out to find a team that was nearby that I couldexperience and enjoy in conjunction with the Red Sox as I lived 1,018miles away from Fenway Park.
Realizing that life would beeasier if I had an American League and a National League team, Idecided to try the Cubs. But the ticket prices at theWorld’s-Largest-Dilapidated-Beer-Garden, the fans, and a roster ofmilquetoast players that did not appeal to me. After witnessing twopeople throw up, a fist fight, a small child with a bladder problem,and an Old Style spilled on my messenger bag (all in one afternoon),I decided I would give the White Sox a try.
There was something aboutattending White Sox games that felt like home. It was a combinationof the tailgating, the clean ballpark, and the attentiveness of thefans that worked to draw me in. And in my three year tenure, Iattended over 60 games at US Cellular Field.
And with frequent attendancecame a lot of memories.
I spent Sunday afternoongames alone in the upper level with my scorebook and company of astranger seated next to me. My friend heckled Brennan Boesch forthree innings while we sat at a picnic table just beyond the rightfield fence. I watched the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup onthe Jumbo-tron in center field after a White Sox victory. I was therefor the Frank Thomas statue dedication, and during a season ticketholder event I leapt for an imaginary fly ball at the fence as afriend took a photograph.
According to my notes sawOzzie Guillen get ejected four times.
And so I have spent thebetter part of three years balancing two teams. Same league, bothsox. It may be crazy to support two American League teams; it may becrazier still that I abandoned the teams of my youth instead ofkeeping with family tradition and maintaining allegiance. But eventhough some critics would say I am breaking the rules of traditionalbaseball fandom, I don’t see it that way.
My view is that there shouldnot be any rules that dictate how anyone chooses to enjoy the game,as long as they are enjoying it. Whether that means fervent supportof one team or a passive interest in all 30, that’s the beauty ofbaseball: as much as it is a team sport, for fans your experience isa self-created and personal happiness of which you are the keeper.
And on that note: GoSox….and Sox.