Siberian Baseball

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Earning it

Watching Game One of the World Series is a bit strange for me this year after a promising year for the Cubs turned to dust in a matter of days and an overachieving Red Sox team finally ran out of gas this weekend in Florida.

Despite the fact that 100 years of history told me that the Cubs weren't going to have the odds in their favor - "Hey, these guys weren't even born for most of those years of futility!" - and knowing that the Red Sox were on borrowed time - "Just like last year and in 2004, they're going to capture momentum and push through!" - I still found new ways to be sucked into believing.

That what being a fan is all about, right?

With the Phillies and Rays in the home stretch, it's a bit tough to pick a team to cheer for. Despite this being the World Series, I have no real sense of animosity or a solid rooting interest, save one.

While I might be annoyed by the Philly sports culture in general, I can sympathize with a championship drought and a city just dying for a title. In shorthand, I don't feel the Rays have earned it.

I've read as much as I can about Tampa and their worst to first run, but I still can't help but feel a little annoyed with a fan base that has more bandwagoners than I'm used to seeing.

After opening that can of worms, I can certainly feel for fans who waited for years to finally have a team to call their own, but the combination of a goofy indoor stadium and the fact that attendance numbers have been driven by visiting teams for years in Tampa makes me feel that somehow the team won't enjoy a title as much as Philadelphia will.

I know that Phillies fans exist, but I still have a sneaking suspicion that Tampa is a strip club, a beach, a TGI Friday's and a nail salon/tanning bed and not much else. I haven't really seen conclusive evidence to the contrary.

You're free to disagree with that. It's not the strongest arguement I've ever made.

Still, the Rays are at the bottom of my fan heap and I'm not very impressed with their base in previous seasons or this one. I can get behind the team - though it's weird to hear that Jason Bartlett is the indispensible cog in the Rays machine - and appreciate young, talented players who have worked just as hard as every other major leaguer, but that's where my respect for the organization ends.

It's a totally subjective thing and I know that a Philly championship has a strong possibility of turning insufferable fans in New York and Boston into second-class citizens in the land of sore winners, but I'll still be pulling for the Phillies.

May God have mercy on my soul.

Head to head:

These teams have not seen each other at all this year and have a pretty small sample to compare to, so it's really not worth breaking it down any further.

For the record, the Rays own a 10-5 record over Philadelphia in the all-time matchup. The Rays also own home field advantage by virtue of an AL win in the All-Star Game, which sucks and is set up all wrong.

Just saying that using the game to determing home field is a total joke is all.

(Image from: MrManEntertainment.com)

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4 Comments:

  • Gee, perhaps best record of the two teams in the World Series would make a better deciding factor on home field advantage.

    You can call me a jerk now.

    By Blogger nad, At Thursday, October 23, 2008 9:01:00 AM  

  • I was thinking of a drinking contest between the opposing managers, but your idea has merit, too.

    By Blogger Minneapolis Red Sox, At Thursday, October 23, 2008 9:08:00 AM  

  • I completely agree with this. Philly and Tampa are actually two cities that I've spent a good amount of time in (the former because of the amount of family that lives there and the latter because my immediate family took annual vacations to Central Florida for many years) and your characterizations of the towns are relatively accurate (although the Tampa does have the redeeming qualities of having excellent weather and beaches).

    Over the years, I'm becoming more and more of a proponent of cheering for the team that has the fan base that will care more. When you grow up in a place like Chicago where die-hard fandom is the norm (notwithstanding pink hat fans that treat Wrigley Field as a beer garden) and went to college in Champaign where 60,000 still woke up at the crack of dawn every week to tailgate prior to watching some of the most horrific college football played in the history of mankind, I have absolutely no patience for front-running bandwagon fan bases.

    In this case, it's no contest. Philadelphia fans are right up there with Chicago and Boston fans in terms of passion for all of their respective teams. I won't say that Tampa fans don't care about any sports - they are extremely passionate about two teams: the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles. All of the pro team fans there, though, are the epitome of the definition of bandwagon fans.

    Also, I automatically lose respect for any fan base that needs noisemakers - if you can't create a hostile atmosphere simply by cheering, chanting and/or clapping without assistance from artificial means (I'm even not that big into things that don't make noise such as towels, although I've grown the tolerate them), then you've failed as a group. The Angels were bad enough with the thundersticks back in the day, but there has never been a noisemaker more annoying in history than Tampa's cowbells. Their bandwagon fans deserve to suffer for the cowbells alone.

    By OpenID frankthetank, At Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:09:00 AM  

  • Wow! I appreciate the research AND I must say, I feel the same way. That is, I really can't get motivated for one team... I don't know. I guess I chalk it up to not being a fan of change. You know, we expect a pedigree, even if we don't say it. BTW, love the way you write!

    By Anonymous VeRonda, At Thursday, October 23, 2008 6:46:00 PM  

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