The Declaration of Fandependence
Every sports fan has their “teams.” Usually, it’s one team they root for in each sport, or each league. In baseball, you may have teams in the American and National leagues, and since those squads only go head to head every few years (unless they meet in your Dream World Series), you can give 100% to both teams.
From the NFL to NBA to NHL, pro, college, semi-pro and national teams, there are a lot of teams to fill out your roster.
I believe that each fan most have their own “Declaration of Fandependence,” a public statement of who your favorite team is.
Now, that list of teams can change over time. In my own life, I have switched NFL allegiances once and rooted for several NCAA teams. (For those wondering, I was born into one football team’s fandom, and I would publicly state my switcheroo here, but I haven’t told my grandmother yet, and she would not be pleased! Maybe another post…)
However, every sports fan has that one team that holds a special place in your heart (right around the aorta, since the team’s colors run through your veins).
This is a team that you are with FOR LIFE…
…Through thick and thin, through championships and cellar-dweller years.
…Through superstar signings and “who the hell is playing left tackle?”
…Through packed stadiums and times when you are surrounded by 10,000 friends and 50,000 empty seats.
…Through draft days and Hall of Fame inductions.
This is a level of fandom so high that you can only support ONE team this way. You can be a fanatic of many other teams…but your dedication to this team is so much more than that.
My #1 team in all of sports is the Baltimore Orioles.
Here are some stories that illustrate it:
- My dad isn’t a real big sports fan. Just wasn’t his cup of tea. In fact, I taught him a lot of sports information, and he, to his infinite credit, 1) put up with my incessant ramblings and 2) took it upon himself to learn the subject matter so we could have a two-way conversation. I don’t think he’ll ever know how much that means to me. My grandfather seemingly wasn’t into sports, either. If only I knew then all the Brooklyn Dodger games he went to as a boy, and with my grandmother when they first started “courting,” as she likes to say.
I was about 7 or 8 years old and I went to old Memorial Stadium to see the Orioles play the Milwaukee Brewers (it seemed like we ALWAYS saw them. I couldn’t stand Robin Yount!). This game, I went with my dad, my aunt Amy and my grandfather. To this day, the memory of watching a baseball game with my grandfather (wearing a bucket hat!) stays with me, even after he is gone.
- I was 10 years old and my neighborhood was on a steep hill. All of the kids wanted to see how fast we could go down the hill on our bikes, which formed a “T” with my street. I started to pedaled my way up, filled with excitement. A little bit of sweat dripped down on my Orioles shirt. In just a few minutes, my aunt was coming to take me to the second-to-last game at Memorial Stadium. For 3 years, a new stadium was being built in downtown Baltimore and this was my chance to say goodbye to my first baseball cathedral.
With the adrenaline of the day pumping through my veins, I made it to the top of the hill, turned around and started the rapid descent. With the wind cooling me off, I accelerated down, down, down, pedaling to speed up! What a rush! Going faster than I ever had before, I saw the entrance to my street. I turned left, barely slowing down at all. Ready to come home, I quickly turned into my driveway. On the rotation, my bike hit a rock and I went flying! I crashed into the pavement, tearing my elbow, shredding my knee and bruising my side. I had never experienced pain like that before, coupled with the embarrassment of knowing I went too fast and the fear I would have to miss the game.
Bandaged well enough to head out, I went to the game. In the hot sun, my wounds burned and I was very uncomfortable, but I stuck through it and gave Memorial Stadium a proper sendoff.
- My Bar Mitzvah was baseball themed. I wore an Orioles jersey. A group of female friends made “Mike’s Orioles” t-shirts. My parents even hired the Oriole Bird mascot to come party with us! Seriously, it goes down on the list of incredibly cool things my parents have done for me. The photos are fairly embarrassing, but I’ll try to post one or two of 13-year old me doing a conga line with the Bird.
- By the time I was in middle school, I knew my career would be in sports. And I promised myself I would go to Cal Ripken, Jr’s Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, NY either as a reporter or a fan. I didn’t go into the media side, so, along with most of the population of Baltimore, I hopped a bus and spent a weekend in upstate NY to witness my childhood hero inducted into the Hall. To see Cal take his place next to Eddie, Frank, Brooks, Earl, Jim and the rest (Oriole legends are known by their first names only) was a truly special moment, even for a jaded sports professional like me.
- So many games, so many games, so many games. I’ve been to hundreds of games combined between Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, which is the new measuring stick against which all new parks are measured. I’ve sat our 3-hour rain delays. I’ve hit refresh on the browser hundreds of times on draft day. I followed the games online when I am out of town. If I’m out on the town, I keep checking the score on my Blackberry, even during concerts and theater shows! I check the batting averages and trends constantly, to see who’s doing well and who isn’t.
If the Orioles are losing, I’m always convinced they will come back to win, conjuring up some of this:
With the current management in place under Andy MacPhail and the roster filled with home-grown and shrewdly-acquired talent like Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, David Hernandez, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold (the 2009 Man-Crush), Brad Bergeson and others, with even more on the way, the future looks bright for the orange-and-black attack.
Nevermind the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays ahead of my team in the standings…I’m a believer! This is my team.
What is your favorite team? E-mail your Declarations to and I’ll post them! (They don’t need to be this long!)
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