DC at Night

DC at Night

Friday, October 3, 2014

A Bite of Baseball Fandom

Welcome to this week's Friday Flashback. Each Friday in the Flashback we offer a post about some part of the past and its relationship to DC. Sometimes, we will write a new entry. Others times, we will showcase articles that previously appeared in The Prices Do DC or some other online publications. But no matter who does the writing, you can trust that you will learn something important from the Flashback. 

Today, we are reposting an entry that 1st appeared on Sept. 17, 2013. With the Nats in the Major League baseball playoffs it's appropriate to look at what happens to your baseball fandom when you relocate. 

UPDATE: The Nats lost the 1st game of the best-of-five series to the San Francisco Giants 3-2.

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
So, since I was born in Philadelphia and spent the next 6 decades in neighboring South Jersey, it wasn't surprising that I was a Phillies fan, just like my mother and father before me and my son after me. When I was 8, I was struck with baseball fever. I avidly collected baseball cards. I devoured every issue of The Sporting News. I could tell you more stats than you would ever need to know. I played organized Little League, sandlot baseball, and backyard wiffle ball. When no one was around, I would take a glove, a wall, and a rubber ball and create a whole series of 9-inning games. If it was raining, there was this board game with dice that would let me continue my baseball passion.

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 the Philadelphia 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
All of which brings us to last weekend. My wife found us incredibly low-priced tickets to all 3 games of the 2013 final series between the Phillies and the Nationals . So I would have 3 chances to test out if my allegiance to the Phils had faded to be replaced with a new fondness for the Nats.

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)
  • My FB post - Phils up 1-0 in the top of the 1st. Go Phils
  • Replies - 7 likes
  • My post - Ramos homerun puts Nats up 2-1. Go Nats.
  • Best Comment - "Oh now you're a Nats fan. Figures. You always were slimy."
  • My post - Zimmerman homerun makes its 3-1. Nats rule
  • Best comment - "Hey, tap that guy in front of you on the shoulder (I had previously posted a picture of where I was sitting) and ask him if he thinks you are more stupid or more ugly, you turncoat".
  • My post - Nats up 6-1 after 5. I am a Nats fan. I have always been a Nats fan. In fact, I was a Nats fan before there was a Nats team.
  • Best comment (tie) - "You mean you were the Expos sole fan" (The Nats were once the Montreal Expos). No wonder Montreal couldn't keep the franchise. But what's more alarming is that you were pro-Canadian" and "You were a greenheads fan if I recall, not a gnats fan."
  • My post - Great night to be a Nats fan
  • Best  comment - "You weren't one when you went in. Are you going to change your sex, too?"
Game 2 (Phils 5, Nats 4)
  • My post - Ruiz just hit a 3-run double. Phils up 4-1. Glad I have always been a Phils fan.
  • Best comment - "Seriously, you're bordering on being hidden from my timeline with your flip-flopping bullcrap". 
  • My post - I think these Nats fans must be feminists. They keep shouting "less gonads, less gonads". 
  • Best comment - "All this flipping and flopping may be affecting your hearing. Maybe hormones? Perhaps taking their advice would help?"
  • My post - Phils win 5-4. I am a Phillies fan. I have always been a Phillies fan. I will always be a Phillies fan.
  • Best comment (tie) "You, David Price, are now, have always been, and will continue to be a fair weather Jersey/Philadelphia sports fan" and "Next thing ya know you'll be a Republican, too". 
Games 3 (Nats 11, Phils 2)
  • My post - Phils up 1-0 with Nats at bat in the 2nd. Glad I am a Phils fan.
  • Best comment - "Hope you don't break you leg hopping on and of that bandwagon. Wait, on 2nd thought, I do".
  • My post - Nats up 4-2. Let's go Nats.
  • Best comment - "Did you just turn your reversible shirt inside out again?"
  • My post - Nats up 10-2. I am glad I am a Nats fan
  • Best comment - "I wish they had a tongue-sticking-out, finger-sticking-up icon on Facebook. But they don't. Use your imagination". 
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 Astros) and quesadillas (Arizona Diamondbacks). 

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