Standing in the lobby area of a horrendously overpriced Yawkey bar at an Orioles – Sox game at Fenway Park last year, I thought I had identified a kindred spirit. He was wearing an old-fashioned cartoon bird hat that immediately stood out from the otherwise thoroughly Bostonian crowd sporting their beloved Bosox red and blue. I made a bee line to his bar stool to share in Oriole miseries and perhaps complain about the lack of Natty Boh on tap. But I would soon discover that this Bird brain was not an Orioles fan at all, just some Massachusetts contrarian who enjoyed wearing the gear of whatever team was in town to face the home team that week. Apparently, he has hats for every team in the AL East and most AL teams in general, and he goes down to the stadium area of Boston at least once per series just to stand out in quiet, accessory-based opposition to the Red Sox. In this way, he’s not a fan of any team at all. He defines himself exclusively through his hatred of the Red Sox; the origins of his ire he left completely unexplained during our brief conversation. In talking to him, it wasn’t even clear to me that Mr. Anti Boston was a fan of the game of baseball at all.
I thought to myself, “Is this guy crazy?”
Then I realized I had paid two hundred dollars for a flight and a hundred for two tickets to sit in the nosebleeds of Fenway’s crumbling, almost comically uncomfortable bleacher section. Worse yet, the Orioles had put pitiful salvage lot belly itcher Adam Eaton on the mound to face then-ace Josh Beckett. The fix was in before I even touched down in New England town. Yet there I was, covered head to toe in bright orange, paying $10 a beer, waiting semi-patiently for first pitch.
Then I thought to myself, “Am I crazy?”
The only thing more embarrassing than watching the Orioles is watching the Orioles out of state. There is a certain familiarity here in the Baltimore region. When two fans wearing O’s gear pass each other on the street, they can nod glumly towards one another, acknowledging the sad bond that they share like a pair strangers at a funeral. But when you’re traveling, watching a team like The Birds is a shameful act. It requires planning of some sort and prioritizing a team that clearly doesn’t prioritize itself. Making awful baseball a priority has got to indicate some sort of mental problem, doesn’t it?
As Ravens training camp opens, it’s time to ask those of you still watching a borderline historically bad baseball team, why you are torturing yourself with terrible baseball?
Is it like watching a train wreck or a car fire, we just can’t look away from the disaster?
Are we so desperate for escapism nearly anything is better than the alternative, real life?
Are we simply intensely loyal, like old Coors Light drinkers who refuse to acknowledge their beer is now just water in a silver can?
Perhaps you are looking for signs of hope on a team whose bright young core now looks like a smoldering pit of dust?
Tonight, the Orioles take on the Blue Jays, who are 11-0 against them on the season. I keep telling myself that the Orioles have to win at least one against the 4th place Jays this year, even if by accident. I’ll be tuned in at 7, lining MASN and Mr. Angelos’ pockets with my viewership, watching the same Luna and Just For Men commercials I’ve been enduring since April. “Your stache is trash!”
Will you be watching, too?
You must be crazy.