As my signature line states, I am a fair weather fan. I feel no shame in admitting it and I have never taken offense when someone accuses me of it. To be honest, I have difficulty understanding the fan who year after year pours their heart and soul into a sports team that, for lack of a better term, sucks. Why there are any Chicago Cubs fans left in existence is beyond me.
I don't understand it. I have a brother in law who is a Cubs fan. He isn't from Chicago. Born and raised in Utah, I don't think he has ever been there. But still, year after year he roots for the Cubs and year after year they have a lousy team. Frankly I think he needs a psychiatrist. Maybe if he were from Chicago I might understand it, but even then, after you grow up and have a real life, how can you invest the time and effort into supporting a team that is no good?
Yesterday during the game thread I was called a "dick" and a "troll" for feeling this way. I was told that I am the reason "people don't respect Angeles fans." I am not going to loose any sleep over this but I am still curious about the sentiment.
I guess I have never felt like a professional sports franchise somehow deserves my support because--fill in the blank-my dad was a fan, I am from the city they are from, I liked them once and I am not allowed to stop liking them because of some unwritten sports fandom rule. This just doesn't compute for me but I know there are those who feel this way.
Being a fan of a particular team is like a religion to them. Once converted you aren't allowed to change and if you become converted when the team is good, you aren't really a fan until you stay liking them when they suck. I guess that's fine for those who need something to believe in. Hey it worked for Ben Wrightman in Fever Pitch. He sure seemed sane to me. (That was sarcasm just in case you are wondering.) But for me, I have a religion and it has nothing to do with sports.
I have been a fan of various sports franchises over the years. In 1968 I was eight years old when my family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. We were from eastern Idaho so we didn't have much in the way of professional sports franchises to choose from before then. My dad started taking me to Giants games. I loved baseball and I loved Willy Mays and the San Francisco Giants.
But all good things come to an end. Mays went to the Mets and the A's had their dynasty in the early seventies. My father hated the A's and, living in the East Bay, everyone else I knew, that is all my friends who where 12 and 13 years old were Oakland fans. I don't know if it was more an act of rebellion against my father or an effort to fit in with my buddies, but I became an A's fan too. What was there not to like. 5 division titles and 3 World Championships didn't hurt.
After the mid seventies, however, I started to loose interest in baseball. I was still an avid sports fan but I was a teenager. Cars, girls and playing sports took the place of watching professional sports. I was too busy to care what the A's were doing. This was prior to the availability of every game on TV and since I went to college out of state, I really could do little more than check the box scores in the local paper. Then came the strikes of 1981, 1985 and 1994 strikes. Eventually I stopped being a MLB fan altogether.
While at college, I became an avid fan of my own school's sports teams. I attended BYU from 1977 through 1984. I am still an avid fan of BYU sports and I guess if you were to say I am a die hard fan of any sports teams, it would be the BYU Cougar teams. But that is because of my affiliation with the school.
Because I went to school with Steve Young, I became a San Francisco 49er Fan in the early 90s and when Danny Ainge, who was also at BYU when I was there, singed with the Celtics I became a Celtics fan. Now that Young and Ainge are retired, I no longer claim either team.
After I moved to Anaheim in 1989 I tried to get an interest in baseball again. My kids were getting old enough to enjoy going to the games and we lived right by Katella High School. Going to see an Angels game was easy. I taught Sunday School to Jaret Wright and knew Clyde and his wife Vicki. Clyde got me some great tickets and I went to several games that year but I just couldn't get into it. I went to several games over the next few years but just couldn't get excited about what I was seeing.
Then came the 2002 season. That's right, I became an Angels fan in 2002. Now before you all draw any conclusion let me say that the Angels winning was not the reason I became a fan. Winning was part of it, but if winning was the only criteria, I suppose I would have become a Reds fan in the late 70s or a Yankee fan in the 90s. It was more than the winning.
Even though I wasn't much of a baseball fan at the time, I liked to listen to games on the radio when at work. I work alone in an office and I go stir crazy without something other than music to listen to. Talk radio gets old so I would often listen to the Angels' or Dodgers' games when they were on in the afternoon or evenings when I was working late.
As you all know after their lousy start, the Angels started to win-and they would often do it coming from behind late in games. It was fun to listen to. This piqued my interest and I started to watch the games on TV with my wife in the evenings. We liked what we saw. We liked the way they played. I liked that there really weren't any super stars on the team but everyone contributed. I loved David Eckstein, Tim Salmon and Darin Erstad because I could point to them and tell my boys that they played the game right. I really liked Mike Scioscia and the way he handled the team. I became a fan.
I attended several games in 2002. I even flew up to Oakland with my son to catch a series there. In 03 and 04 we bought season tickets. We moved to Utah in the fall of 04 but my wife and I have watched almost every game they have played since that time. We usually fly down for at least 2 or 3 weekend series a year and have been to spring training twice. We are not casual fans. We have spent thousands of dollars supporting the Angels over the past eight years.
Now many think I am a bandwagon fan because I wasn't an Angels fan prior to 2002. I don't consider myself a bandwagon fan. I bandwagon fan is like my 12 year old neighbor who wears his Yankee hat and tells me the Angels suck but when I ask him who the Yankees' lead off hitter is he still says "Johnny Damon." I know who is on the Angels' 25 and 40 man rosters, I know who their top prospects are and I will take the time to go watch their rookie league and AAA teams play in Orem and Salt Lake. My wife has a shrine dedicated to the 2002 team on her office wall and I am afraid that if Tim Salmon was single she would have left me long ago to go pursue him. Heck, I might have left her to pursue him. But, Tim Salmon is no longer playing. The 2002 team that we loved is gone.
As a fair weather fan the Angels need to keep me interested. When Steve Young retired, I tried to stay interested in the 49ers but they began to suck. They were no longer fun to watch. I have too many other things that I am interested in to spend time following a bad football team so I ended up giving up on them and the NFL altogether. Same with the Celtics and the NBA. Does that make me a bad fan? Although some of you may think so, I think that makes me normal.
The Angels have done a good job of keeping me interested for eight years now but as I said yesterday, I really don't have a desire to keep up the level of excitement I have had in years past. The way this team has played this year is uninspiring. There is no spark or chemistry to hold my interest. It is not just the losing, it is the way they are losing.
In addition, you become a fan of players. I still am an Eckstein fan. I still check the box scores to see how Kotchman or GA did. I still am hoping that McPherson makes it in the big leagues. I want to see Abar, Kendrick, Napoli, Weaver, Santana and even Brandon Wood play and succeed because I take great pleasure seeing the home grown talent develop into major league talent. But the group of players that makes up most of the roster just doesn't do it for me.
The bottom line is that as a fair weather fan, I am not going to spend my days or evenings worrying about or watching a team that has no heart. I will still turn on a game once in a while and I will still follow the scores but unless they entertain me, hold my passion, I'm sorry I have better things to do with my time and money. I guess the difference between me as a fair weather fan and those of you who call yourselves diehard fans is that I believe that a team needs to earn their fans support year in and year out and you diehards think that they should get it no matter what. So be it.
For now, they are losing me. Little by little my desire to watch and to care is waning. I hope that the front office and management can put together a team next year that plays what I have come to love as "Angels Baseball" with superb defense, good base running, frenzy and timely hitting, solid starting pitching and a lights out bullpen. As we all know, they don't have it this year. I get as excited for a Matsui at bat as I do for a trip to the dentist. I miss Vlad's big grin, Eckstein's pesky 12 pitch at bats and Erstad running into walls in center field. I know that we can't rewind the clock and have all that back, but what has replaced it just doesn't cut the mustard.