THE QUESTION: Would you rather deal with fair weather fans that only show up when the team is doing well and otherwise don’t really care, or fans that live and die with every. single. pitch. and think the season is lost in the first week when Pujols goes 0-4 or Carp gives up a handful of runs?
Is there a 3rd choice? Fair weather fans who respond to a few rough games by bailing out probably can’t name the team’s starting lineup anyway. While that type of detachment could be a good defense mechanism for a Cubs fan, it hardly befits a true member of Cardinal Nation. I’m not good at sharing a baseball game with someone who just doesn’t care. On the other hand, volatile fans give me anxiety through proximity. It’s either melt-down or mania with them – and that gets tiring faster than Franklin can blow a save. If I had to pick (and Angela says I do…) I’d pick the live-and-die-with-every-pitch type of baseball buddy as long as they are capable of providing a reasonable, intelligent defense explaining what makes them crazed lunatics (for better or worse) on any given day of the baseball season.
To me, the answer is simple – if I have to choose between the crazies that were blowing up Twitter this afternoon or people that head for the hills during the bad times… I might take the good timers. I think this is a partially emotional response, since I checked out on Twitter after seeing the venom there after Franklin’s blown save today by the ones that are grabbing their pitchforks. Some of these fans just become too much for me. The Cardinals win a blowout and they say, “But so and so went 0-4 and left the bases loaded in the 6th and whatever reliever gave up 2 runs in mop-up duty in the 8th.” People – the Cardinals are winning. They just took three of four from the Dodgers in LA and have gone 5-2 in their last seven. You can smile. You can high five. Enjoy the good times.
I’ve lived on Chicago’s north side for nearly 10 years now, which is the natural breeding ground and safe haven for the fair weather fan, so my first instinct is to say that I can’t stand fair weather fans. This part of the country is full of people who moved to Chicago in their early 20s, purchased a Derrek Lee shirt or a pink Cubs hat, and spend each summer chugging beers in one of America’s largest bars–Wrigley Field. For a truly invested fan, it can be infuriating.
That being said, I think that part of the beauty of baseball is its versatility. There is a time for casually enjoying a game and some badly needed sun; there is a time for watching with fellow fans in a rowdy bar; there is certainly a time for watching from under your bed or behind your couch, pushed into solitude by the sheer intensity of the game. Baseball in June is different from baseball in October, and I feel that the fair weather fan, no matter how gross in October, is a necessity to June baseball and all its fun and warmth. We (the die hard, the obsessed, the truly invested) have a tendency to take things a little too seriously a little too early on (see: week one of the 2011 season), and we need those fair weather fans to remind us, sometimes, to keep things in perspective, to breathe and think, “162 games.”
I think what I’m trying to say is that die hard fans and fair weather fans are both crucial to baseball, because part of what makes baseball great is how it can be enjoyed at different levels and loved to different degrees. I believe that if you care more, the game gives more back to you. Yet as much as I can understand and marginally appreciate every level of involvement, I’ll personally take the “live and die with every pitch” fan any day, because when it comes right down it, I want to talk to someone who can knowledgeably talk about baseball—not a “Cubs fan” who just found out that Ryan Theriot doesn’t play for them anymore.
This is a very hard topic for me to approach, because I can’t say I can pick either one. Fairweather fans – at least the ones who obviously don’t care unless they get free tickets to a game – are the worst, but sometimes I consider the living and dying (the extreme version) to be very similar. Passion is a tricky thing and in my opinion, it isn’t always a good thing. I consider myself to be a passionate person…in everything I do. I hate it when we lose, when someone blows a game or when we go on a losing streak. On the other hand, I am very happy when we can score 60-plus runs on a 10 game road trip, we go on a winning streak or someone has a complete game, just to name a few things. I guess what I am trying to say is that my passion for the team (my 5 shelves of Cardinals memorabilia, my 6 shelves full of t-shirts & jerseys, and the fact that almost every one of my profile pictures on facebook is of me at a Cards game) is there…and vivid, but I have many other things going on in my life for me to really place my mood fully in the hands of Ryan Franklin or any other member of the St. Louis Cardinals. It gets me more frustrated to see the huge dynamics from people – ecstatic when we score 15 runs in a game and cursing the name of a player who made a bad play the next game – then it does for me to even have to deal with the people who leave games in the 7th inning.
Ultimately, I can’t change anyone and how they react to sports…they are free to do whatever they want. I will cheer along with my fellow fans when things are good (and I am ok if they are bandwagon fans), but when things go bad, I just have to tune out the stuff I don’t want to hear. I would rather just cheer on my team.
Have an idea for future Girl Talk posts? Let us know!
The Cardinals have today off, a much needed rest for players and fans alike after the brutal 10 game West Coast Road Trip. The Cardinal offense surged on the road and the Redbirds are now sitting at .500 with 8 wins & 8 losses. Can they keep the magic alive at home?
Next up? Back home to Busch stadium on Tuesday, facing the Washington Nationals. Rick Ankiel and Jayson Werth…. this should be interesting!