Being a Baseball Fan of a Baseball Team

My fan meter just went up.

Every once in a while, I get introspective and start wondering about things in life. Sometimes, they are about important things like economics, politics, equality, justice, and finding a girl who can stand me, but other times, I wonder about baseball.

Everyone knows I’m a Braves fan, and after my little post about my baseball life, you know why that is. However, I’ve come up against a few questions I can’t quite answer. Here they are with my thoughts, but I’m interested in what people have to say.

1) Do I always have to be a Braves fan?
It isn’t like I don’t want to be one anymore. I’m still a big Chipper fan, I have a serious man-crush on Brian McCann, and I see a lot of good things for the Braves in the future. But, I grew up with a very different Braves team. I grew up with Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, Chipper, Javy, and Lemke, and honestly, this team doesn’t remind me much of the old one. Am I a fan of the Braves, or was I a fan of the ’90s Braves? Do I need to stay a fan when all of them have come and gone, when Schuerholz is gone, and finally, when Cox is gone? It seems to me that I became a fan of them as a collective whole and not necessarily the Braves franchise itself. Yet, I still feel loyalty to them, but I wonder when Chipper and Bobby go, will I still feel that way?

2) If I don’t have to stay a Braves fan (which I think most people agree that I don’t have to) am I allowed to pick another team?
I wonder about this one. I can’t just jump on someone else’s bandwagon and completely forget about the Braves. But if I am not a die-hard fan of the Braves, can I be a die-hard fan of another team I admire at the moment? I really like the things the Rays are doing (which I know is jumping on the bandwagon, but I would like to place Exhibit A as me playing as the Rays in MLB 08 last season well before the Rays became the big shizz they are now), and I’ve always had this weird pull toward the Mariners, though I can’t explain why. Am I allowed to be a fan of them without compromising my integrity? Or do I have to forsake all teams and just be a fan of baseball instead? I believe that it would make me a better fan to watch all baseball and judge it without a bias, but it kind of takes all the excitement out of it, doesn’t it?

I realize I’m being a bit sentimental, but the team I grew up with and love is pretty much gone. It’s not that I don’t agree with the Braves letting them go. When players get past the point of production, you have to say good-bye. But as a fan of those players, I don’t feel the same pull toward the team.

3) Is this just a part of growing up?
For the most part, your childhood team is a product of chance. It could be your hometown team, a team you could watch, or maybe it was your family’s favorite team. But as you grow up, you abandon a lot of things you used to like or think as a child. Is this one of them? As I grow up, am I allowed to make a choice as to who my favorite team is? Do I get to sit down and decide who I want to be a fan of? Or do I need to stick with that team because it’s my team or just be a general, passionate fan? I realize that jumping to a team like the Mariners won’t make me a bandwagon jumper because they stink at the moment, but what about the Rays? I have a genuine love for how they’ve built that team, but is it fair to just go root for them (I will anyway for the AL East just because I don’t want the Red Sox or Yankees to win)? Is it fair to the fans of the team who have been there since the beginning? Did I need to be more prophetic and make the switch two years ago?

4) Is it necessary to be a fan of a specific team?
Plenty of really smart baseball team aren’t really that attached to a team. Is it childish to need a favorite team? As a free-thinking adult, do I need to smother my love and attention on a team with which I won’t always agree on how they run the team? Then again, it makes the game more exciting. While watching the Syracuse-Villanova game this past weekend, I didn’t care who won, but when I watch UK play someone, I get into it. It makes it more exciting. There’s something on the line, your heart pumps, you stress, and you’re either excited or pissed. But is it rational to bet your hopes, dreams, health, and material objects on a team? Should I just focus on the game as a whole?

This is an odd thought process for me. I don’t like dealing with emotions, and trying to make sense out of something that isn’t supposed to make sense is even more confusing. However, I feel that these are legitimate questions. Ones to be thought about. Why do we like who we like? If it came from childhood, do I have to continue liking them later after my heroes are gone? If I can choose another team, do I get to choose another 15 years from now? Or is this whole notion of favorites an emotion for children? I don’t want to grow up, and baseball is supposed to bring us closer to childhood. Maybe I’m just thinking about this too much.

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