When it comes to baseball fandom, whom you root for is often a matter of geography. Born and raised in Los Angeles? Chances are good you will be a Dodgers or Angels fan. Came into the world a couple hours drive to the south and you're probably a San Diego Padres fan. A couple of hours north and you could well spend your entire life following the San Francisco Giants.
Of course, the phenomenon isn't related only to the West Coast. Colorado, Houston, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, New York, Boston, it doesn't matter - born there, attend your 1st games there, stay there, your allegiance often remains there.
|The old Connie Mack stadium in Philadelphia|
I loved going to games at the old Connie Mack stadium with my Dad and his friends, 2 of whom were pro baseball scouts (one for the Reds, one for the Pirates) and one of whom, Goose Goslin, was an actual Baseball Hall of Famer with his bust in Cooperstown, NY. They all taught me how to truly appreciate the magnificent nuances of the game.
But while I loved the game, in reality, I was only a slightly-below-average player, (my farm league team went 0-16 and my error cost my Little League team a championship). However, I remained a super fan. Well, at least until my teen years when rock and roll music and playing keyboard (the rock women who ignored me for the singers were much hotter than the baseball groupies I never had) replaced baseball as my American pastime.
Although I gave up my super label, the Phils remained a part of my life. If I watched a game on TV, there was a 90 percent chance the Phils were involved. The horrible sense of loss I felt when the Phils blew the pennant in 1964 in one of the greatest collapses in baseball history still surfaced every so often in my memory. When I took my son to a baseball game, unless we were on vacation, it was to see the Phils.
But 3 years ago we retired and moved to Washington, DC. Suddenly, it was the Washington Nationals, not the Philadelphia Phillies, who were the home town team. When I turned on the local TV, the game was the Nats and whomever they were playing. The sports pages I read were now reports of the Nats in the Washington Post, not stories of the Phils fate in thePhiladelphia Inquirer. Quickly, I came to know more about the new Nats than I did the Phillies. And the Nats ballpark was only 5 Metro stops and one train change from our apartment.
|The new Nationals Park in DC|
I decided on a plan. To test out which team I was really now a fan of, I would post different positions on my Facebook page depending on the score. I would then feel which one felt right. It would also give me chance to see if I would have any family (one of whom would be sitting next to me for all 3 games) or friends if I really did switch from the Phils to the Nats. Here is a game-by-game account of that game plan.
Game 1 (Nats 6, Phils 1)
Game 2 (Phils 5, Nats 4)
Games 3 (Nats 11, Phils 2)
So all this brings us to the 7th inning of the final game of the series. I had tried keeping my Phils fandom. I had tested out a new Nats card. But I still wasn't certain. Time was running out. There was only one thing to do. I jumped from my seat and headed to the concession area. I stopped at the Ben's Chili Bowl stand. I bought a DC half-smoke with everything on it. Then I headed to the Taste of the Majors. I bought a Philly cheesesteak wid' onions. I headed back to my seat. If my heart and my head couldn't decide, I would let my stomach make the choice.
My wife looked at me. "You're unbelievable," she said, reaching for the Tide Stick she knew she would soon need. I ignored the comment. I couldn't let a few stains stand in the way of a major league decision like this. I figured the fairest way was to eat a bite of the Philly steak, then a bite of the DC half-smoke (home teams always bat last, you know). In the early eating innings, it was close. They were both good. But by about the 8th bite, with cheese dripping from my chin and chili staining my pants, it suddenly became clear. I liked DC half-smokes, but I loved Philly cheesesteaks. I was, had always been, and will always be a Phils fan, for better or worse, in their sickness and their health, in their winning and their losing, until death do us part. Or until at least next season. There is always peach pie (Atlanta Braves), deep dish pizza (Chicago Cubs) Texas beef brisket (Houston Astos) and quesadillas (Arizona Diamondbacks).