My Dying Fandom
Lakeshore Public Radio’s Tom Maloney gives his thoughts on America’s favorite past-time, and his relationship with the sport he used to love. This is an opinion piece, and not reflective of Lakeshore Public Radio’s stance on any issues.
I used to be a fan. Juiced up batters, and flame throwing pitchers dotted the line-ups of almost every team. My baseball card collection was laughingly huge. Like the biceps ripping through sleeves, smashing the ball wherever the bat directed.
It didn’t matter if it was the White Sox late at night traveling to the West Coast, or the Cubs or Braves just as I got home from school, I was watching baseball. ESPN’s Baseball Tonight was my daily bible. The Sunday Night game of the week made me forget about Sundays in the fall. I was a summer child, and baseball was my blood.
I used to be a fan. So, what happened? Life, I suppose? Not having the time in the day to try and keep up with a fantasy baseball team isn’t a surprise anymore, either. I work full-time, I go to grad school full-time, there’s time with my girlfriend and my family and her family, my friends when my schedule and theirs’ line-up, and hockey games (yes, I play year-round). It shouldn’t be a surprise that I don’t have time to keep up with the game that I once loved.
But, it’s not that I can no longer keep up with it, it’s that I don’t want to keep up with it. Why? Is it age? Is it that I’ve become disjointed, like many fans, about the post-steroid era? Is this even the post-steroid era; as many players are still suspended and others are still lying about ending up on a banned substance list? Is it the price of tickets to go to Sox park (Comiskey, if you will, because I can’t bring myself to call it U.S. Cellular Field)? Could it be that the Cubs, once I got to an age where I could tell right from wrong, were never the right answer for me? Sure, there’s Wrigleyville, which, in my older age, I’ve come to love, but that’s not baseball.
Sitting in front of a computer screen, trying to figure out who’s going to go 3-4, with 3 RBI’s and a run scored is too tedious. Scanning the back of every baseball card for some rare tidbit of information is mind numbing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love going to games, when I can make it. Being there, with people I know, enjoying the sunshine down the 3rd baseline of Sox park, or grilling brats and drinking someone else’s Old Style. I guess I’m still a fan, and my fandom isn’t dead. But, the heartbeat is slower.
Just do me a favor, flag down the beer guy when you see him again.
*Photo from NPR