I sit here at my computer with a sinking feeling in my stomach. All the people close to me are healthy, I haven’t committed any felonies (yet), and I didn’t eat any bad seafood today. My stomach isn’t turning over for any rational reason. You see I’m a Baltimore Orioles fan, which is a disorder that causes upset tummies, uncontrollable headaches, and sore throats. My Orioles, yes my Orioles, just lost a heart breaker to the Yankees. I shouldn’t give a crap, I shouldn’t want to smash the walls and scream until my voice gives out, but I do and I don’t want to apologize for that.
It all started September 5th, 1995, the day that Cal Ripken Jr. tied Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played. September 5th 1995 was also the day I was born. My grandmother, a life-long Baltimorean, decided that my mother’s 18 hours of labor were of secondary importance to what was going on at Camden Yards. “I already have grandchildren” she said to my mother as she left the hospital room “And I’ll have more, but I’ll never see this again.” She came to the conclusion that the birth of her daughter’s first child was less important than watching a celebration of man who simply went to work everyday. She chose a game over my birth, and guess what; I would have done the same god damned thing.
Fandom is stupid. Fandom is completely and utterly irrational. Thousands of people cram themselves into crowded stadiums on sweaty summer nights to watch men they’ll never know play a game they’ll never fully understand. They’ll come out in droves night after night, day after day, and weird 7:07 Blue Jays start time after weird 7:07 Blue Jays start time. Fandom has existed for centuries before I was born and will exist centuries after I die. People ask; what’s the point? I have no idea.
I don’t know why I care so much about something so trivial. I’m not sure why a 21 year old’s inability to hit a white thing with a stick makes my insides topple like an avalanche. I don’t know the answer to these things, but I don’t think I have to.
I’ve formulated this entire piece around a conclusion at the end that eloquently explains why I’ve submitted to fandom. The only problem is that I don’t have a reason. I don’t have any funny metaphors or cute world play to throw at you. I thought I might, but I don’t. I can’t put into words why millions of people around the world live and die by their teams. I’m not able to formulate any coherent reasons for you at this moment in time. I’m not going to go back and edit this because I don’t particularly want to. I know this whole rant was supposed to end cleverly as I explained to you how fandom isn’t nuts. It was supposed to end with a witty line where I pulled it all back to my grandmother. Maybe I’m not a good enough writer to write this piece. Maybe I’m naïve and when I get older I’ll grow up and understand that fandom is idiotic. Maybe fandom is something that is better left unexplained.
Great post Jake. Really loved it.
Could be worse. You could have come home from school in the mid-70s to day baseball brought to you by the magic of cable television (instead of four channels we had eight!) and become a Cub fan.
What a gal, your grandmother! I’m supposed to be working Sunday, 9/22, when the Yankees are honoring Mariano. I think I’ll take a page out of her book, just say f* it and stay home to watch the ceremonies. We’ll never see another Mariano in our lifetimes.
Your grandma… helluva lady!
So. Much. Want.