Author – Brian McGee – February 25th, 2014
Being a fan of a baseball team that is out of town can certainly have its high points and low points. When you’re single, it’s mostly high points. You can stay up late, search through the city for that small group of refugee fans that gather together at a specialty bar to watch the game. Road trips to see big games… The possibilities are endless.
Somewhere along the lines, you get struck with the love bug and most of the time for the out-of-state fan, that means that your spouse won’t initially share the love and devotion of your homeland’s teams. Overtime, most devoted sports fans can persuade their loved one to at least tolerate, and potentially adopt their ways and customs.
And then you get the news… You’re becoming a parent! Within minutes of your spouse setting up a registry you find yourself sneaking onto it to add team branded onesies.Games of catch in the back yard are already being rehearsed in your imagination. FINALLY, you have secured in your mind someone to sit next to you on the couch and watch the games with you, cheering just as passionate as you are. You have someone that you can indoctrinate from the moment of conception to blindly accept all of your customs and ways: how you sing the 7th inning stretch, favorite food in the third inning, multiple superstitions, etc.
All of these master plans are going amazing until the day of the baby shower when your spouse brings home merchandise from the local team designed to smother your baby in the one thing that painstakingly has suffocated your freedom of fanhood… What to do… What to do…. Where is the jug of bleach that I can strategically spill on these items so that they can never touch the sweet innocent skin of my beloved offspring?! Alas… fighting it is futile… you are left with a monumental decision to make.
PATH 1 – Raise the white flag. Think about it… your kid is going to walk into school at the age of 5, sit down at their desk, look all the other kids in the eye and tell them that they like a baseball team from another state… instant loner status … #ThanksMomandDad. When you were a kid, there was nothing better than to be able to easily get your hands on a packet of baseball cards from your grocery store of your home town team, to wear their jerseys and hats that were sold at nearly every store come April, to hop in the car and be at the professional stadium of your team in less than an hour. That was life… and it is the one thing you will be taking away from your kid if you raise them to love your team and your team only. #PAIN. Anyway, if you live in NY, Chicago, the Bay Area, or LA, there are a few ways around this. Multiple teams gives you a chance to use the ever so sly “I can’t cheer for another team in the same league… but it doesn’t mean I can’t follow a team from the other league!” In New York, that means the Yankees are a safe bet for a Reds fan. #Bandwagon #TheDevilMadeMeDoIt #TheMetsSuck
But then you get this disgusting feeling of having to live with a Yankee fan… ok, time to buckle the seatbelt and go into full blown War Mode
PATH 2 – You must do everything in your power to insure that your child loves your team with every last ounce of passion you have in your soul. If this means quitting your job and flying to Spring Training, then you do that. If this means emptying out your 401K to get playoff tickets, by the Lord Almighty you do it. Your kid needs to have a life time of arsenal to throw back at other kids who are going to dog them for not cheering for the home team. Your kid will be not invited to birthday parties – that means you throw your own party, regardless of the occasion. It’s a mad world out there, but it is the price you will have to pay. Guilt your child if you must, threaten to remove them from the will if you ever catch them in blue pinstripes… force them on pilgrimages back to the mother country, make it a religious experience if you must, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Your spouse might threaten divorce, neighbors might call CPS, try as they might, pray that your child will not depart from the truth, and will go on to raise their child exactly as you have damaged them… er I mean raised them.
Honestly, it’s a hard one. You have to find the middle path. Let your kid be themselves, choose whoever they want to cheer for. Educate them about the Reds, or your local team if you’re hear on this blog for other reasons. Give them a joyful history of your experiences, but encourage them all the more to blaze a new trail, whether it be with your team, or with another. Make a chart of all the major league parks, and set out on an adventure throughout their childhood to visit them all. The most effective way to ensure that your kid at the end of it all will love your team is if they love you first. Do what is right and just love your kid, give them the freedom to experience it all the way you experienced it, and teach them to love the game regardless of the color of the uniform. Teach them how to keep score (a lost art!) Instruct them on how to handle themselves at a game as a fan, and how to get other fans to do the same. Teach them that sportsmanship and showmanship go hand in hand. And above all else, teach them just how much you care about them, by sharing with them a game that they can love for all of their days, together, with you, and their kids. Well, Rounding First and heading for home, this one belongs to the fans!