Selective Fanhood

My roommate is a Cardinals fan. I know that it’s sad, but trust me, it gets even more amusing. When we first got to college he spent at least a month trying to pretend like he was a Royals fan.

I remember walking into my dorm room freshman year and meeting this guy. He had on a pair of Royals shorts.

“Awesome!” I thought. “Here’s a guy who I instantly know I’ll get along with.” I started to talk to him about baseball and he seemed to know his stuff. Then I happened to look down and see it. A Cardinals floor mat right outside our bathroom. I paused and took a deep breath. I mean, it was a floor mat. I didn’t mind wiping my feet on the Redbirds. In fact, it seemed justified. Then I saw the other decorations: A Cardinals trash can..a Cardinals parking sign..a picture of Ozzie Smith in mid-backflip..I broke out in a cold sweat. Why did he have Royals shorts on? Why had I been doomed to live with a Cardinals fan? Why does blue always infinitely look better than red?

I had to know.

“You a Cardinals fan?” I asked him. There was a moment of hesitation and I knew….I knew he was. “Well, yeah..” he stammered. He knew this was the wrong thing to say and immediately tried to make things right. “But I’m a Royals fan too! I just love baseball. I root for the teams in Missouri!”

I managed a small smile and an “Oh, I see.” I was depressed. Now I’d be living with someone who would constantly be talking about the Cardinals’ dominance, how they were robbed of the World Series in ’85, and blah blah blah BLAH.

I steadied myself for a rough semester. This was not how I wanted to begin my college career. I took a deep breath and decided to bear it.

But something happened.

Over the next month we actually got to know each other. He’d played all the way through high school and well….my baseball had been a little more limited in that I’d stopped playing after 3rd grade K-ball. He never judged me for that though, and respected the fact that I cared so much about the game and took time to know about it even though I’d stopped playing before I’d turned eleven. Because of this attitude and lack of judgement, I was able to come down off of my high horse and actually enjoy talking with him about the game we both loved.

I was also able to learn some things in the process. Things like in-game strategy and defensive shifting with runners on base. Things I’d never thought of before. But you want to know what the most important thing I learned was? I could sit down with a Cardinals (fake Royals) fan and have an honest-to-goodness baseball conversation that I actually enjoyed.

All this leads me to the reception our 2011 Royals have received from the fan base so far this season. I don’t mean to harp on the bandwagon. In all honesty, I’m glad that the Royals starting the season well meant that many people started showing interest in the team again. However, I just can’t stand the guy who throws on his little-used Royals jacket, starts talking about this year’s team, and quickly demonstrates that he knows VERY little about the current state of affairs at Kauffman. It’s the same guy who tells you that we never should have traded Zack Greinke, the guy who questions why we got rid of Rick Ankiel. That guy drives me insane. As much as I like fan support, that guy embarrasses me. And every team has this guy. He’s not just limited to the Royals.

That being said, here’s what I’ve come to decide. I’d rather watch baseball with a Cardinals fan who knows and respects the game as opposed to a guy who’s Royals hat looks just a little bit too new. I’d rather watch a baseball game with my roommate than with someone who is going to give up on the season in three weeks. A true fan of the game respects what another team’s organization is trying to do. A true fan of the game respects the struggle of fans who have endured years of heartbreak. A true fan sticks to his guns. Of course there’s going to be ribbing when you’ve got a series as competitive as the one that takes place on I-70, but I just really appreciate fans who respect the game…regardless of their affiliation.

So enjoy the Royals this season. If they succeed, enjoy the interest that they’ll receive from “fans”. If they don’t succeed…well…we’ve been down that road before and the true fans will never leave the blue corner.

After that first month of our freshman year, I confronted my roommate about his fanhood.

“You’re not really a Royals fan, are you bro?”

He looked at the ground uncomfortably and shook his head. “Not really man, I love the Cards. I just wanted us to get along.”

This made me chuckle.

“But I’m a fan of baseball!” He said defiantly.

Today I’ll respond to that.

So am I.

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